John McCullagh February 27, 2006
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Teaming up drivers with conductors was the task of some faceless mandarin in The Office – who revealed his decision by posting the following week’s schedule on the Depot’s Notice Board at exactly eight pm on Saturday evenings.

 

It was now my considered view that most of these employees richly deserved one another and – with the honourable exception of my Philosopher – I cared little who might be my driver. Still there was phenomenal interest in these postings.

And, I noted nervously, only on the part of conductors.

As dozens of anxious conductors flocked around the Board, I observed with merriment that to the last man and woman, having read the week’s schedule, they withdrew with much relieved expressions – a few actually wiping away beads of sweat from their foreheads. Soon everybody had received the good news.

‘Who is it?’ I overheard one ask another.

‘Some Irishman. Just started. God help him!’

I checked the name of the driver to be avoided and then the Notice Board. 

Sure enough, it was me!

‘What’s so bad about Ferguson? And who is he anyway?’ I asked, as casually as I could muster.

Again, I was on the receiving end of the collective amusement of this group of people who hardly knew how to smile. 

Some approached to offer a handshake as though I was going to the gallows. Some tried to reassure me things wouldn’t be all bad – but they gave the game away with their sniggers. One muttered darkly about the rumour that Ferguson, as a driver in London, had been responsible for a fatality – and could get employment nowhere except in Kent.

As I plodded my weary path homewards (by then, I was confident at least of the route back to the digs!) I gloomily contemplated my fate for the following week.

Every other conductor was out on the town celebrating his release from weekend misery.

….more ….

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