Tuesday, July 19, 2005

They came on bicycles...

I was recently back in Ireland with my father and we returned to one of his old haunts for a drink. An old guy at the other end of the bar caught my Dad's eye and came over for a chat. They had been firm friends in their youth - but had not seen much of each other since. They were, nonetheless, entirely abreast of the details of each other's lives - thanks to the grapevine.

The old friend was, like my father, called Paddy. He was a dapper man in his seventies and my father later attributed his spritely disposition to the fact that he never much troubled himself with inconveniences like 'work'. They inevitably began to reminisce and recalled a police raid on the same bar some fifty years earlier. Paddy, my Dad and his brother had all been charged with underaged drinking and each fined half a crown. The guards then held them to ransom for many pints of beer for several weeks - threatening to tell parents of the crime.

My Dad tried to capture the atmosphere for me. 'They didn't have any fast cars with flashing lights, you know'. He took a sip of his pint and looked to Paddy for confirmation, 'They came on bicycles...'

Thursday, July 07, 2005

'packed with care by Ashley'

I took delivery of some business cards the other day. Each parcel was labelled with an image of the poor guy who packed them. The label read:

Your order was packed with care by:
Ashley [in faux handwriting]
If I’ve slipped up, please return this card when you complain or email your comments to me at…..

Ashley’s image suggested that he didn’t really care at all and had been coerced into posing. He looked as caring as someone who’d just been arrested and I respect him for that. Who do they think they are kidding – these organisations who add a personal touch to packaging? I’m sure that Ashley would rather just get on with his job and retain his anonymity. And what does the labelling really mean. Here’s a possible translation:

‘You ordered something and here it is. This guy packed it and resisted the urge to vent his frustration with his life by sabotaging your ego-trip business cards with any body fluids or razor blades – he just excelled himself in the caring world of packing stuff. Oh, and make sure that if there are any problems with this order of business cards (that you will probably never have any meaningful opportunities to distribute anyway) you direct your gripe(s) to Ashley. He didn’t listen at school - so now he’s packing business cards. That really does make him fair game as a scapegoat for your complaint, while the management takes home the real money and drives the company cars. ‘

My business cards are now in my desk drawer (with just a couple in my wallet). I don’t think I packed them with care.