This week I have been working. I did some good honest graft for real money. My muscles ached but it was the ache of the just. Even the co-author of Amazon's 969,000th most successful title
this week (currently discounted) needs to pay the bills occasionally. Have I been milking cattle? Dry-stone-walling? Building a solar power station? No, I've been sticking little orange labels saying £2.99 onto infant girls' clothing in a warehouse in Winsford. I did the same job two weeks ago (and some order picking as well, your correspondent ending his week walking around with a handful of leopard skin print thongs) and apparently I was so good at it, they wanted me back this week. I'm so honoured.
In fact, they wanted me back to correct the mistakes made two weeks ago by stupid people. Mistakes? Well yes because sadly what was quite the most straightforward and simple task, i.e. getting a box of clothes off a shelf, getting a roll of sticky price reduction labels and sticking one over the bar code on the existing tag as per the very simple verbal instruction and demonstration we were all given, proved to be beyond the mental and physical capacity of the pride of South Cheshire's youth and all 150,000 reductions from the previous week had to be checked and re-reduced.
I know I'm sounding a little self-righteous but I do feel justified. Whereas I, a couple more from my generation plus a few Slovaks and Poles, shut up, accepted our lot, got our heads down and got on with it, the British kids (for very few were over 20) showed everyone why we're so well-respected in the world today. They subjected everyone to a continuous display of their boorish humour, foul language, casual racism and and even more casual sexism. I dare say that a young man's primary objectives haven't changed much over the years but today's young British male seems to be uncannily focussed. All he appears to be able to do is talk about going out and getting wrecked on alcopops or off his head on medicinal herbs. Even more amazingly, all these intentions seem to communicated to his peers solely by using various intonations of the word "fuck".
It would also be easy to blame the large number of foreign nationals or weak English speakers (yes, even weaker than the natives) for the mistakes but on Friday, I was one one of only 3 native English speakers out of a dozen bodies called in at 7 am to rectify the mistakes made on Wednesday and Thursday. I am still struggling to come to terms with how unbelievably stupid some of these people are; unable to perform the most basic and straightforward of tasks, even for money. There comes a point where it's very difficult to make excuses for them.
Maybe I'm being a bit too judgmental on the poor maligned poppets. Maybe it was too boring for them; maybe they wanted a bit more of a challenge out of life. But I was doing it and not complaining (except about my aching arse from sitting on a tote crate all day) and I was doing it for exactly the same reason they were: money. But it seriously begs the question what on earth have we taught our children? Or rather, what haven't we taught them. No respect or pride. No respect for the fact that had they done the task properly in the first place, everything that followed would have had a better chance of working properly.
This was all rather apposite as this week the new government announced a £14million package to help schools teach manners, respect and the kind of social skills I've always assumed were learned in the bosom of the family. But of course, there is no family anymore. Our insatiable desire for disposable stuff and the fear of losing face because someone else's kid has better stuff, has meant the old values of thrift and caution have been sacrificed to the god of easy credit. Easy come, easy go but we'll both be out at work paying for it so grab a pizza out of the freezer and we'll see you at the weekend if we're lucky.
I'll shut up before I sound like a Sunday Express leader.