Who knew that the police were like photocopiers, then?
Having done a fair load of temping in my youth, I know my way round photocopiers like a surgeon knows his way round a wine shop. Temping is a lot like freelancing, in that you're given the jobs people think too tedious to do themselves and are useful to blame when things snafu - but at least freelancers get asked their names.
My temping CV had two things going for it: that I knew how to work Lotus Amipro as well as Word, and that I could unjam paper in a flash. I owe this great skill from months of photocopying IT training manuals for Hampshire's social workers, and from having long spindly fingers that can reach.
Just as wild animals (and pretty women) can smell fear, photocopiers and their printer brethren know a rush when they sniff one. Want to copy some high-larious fax that some wag in accounts just sent over? No problemo. Got a Dead Important Presentation to put together in no minutes, on pain of immediate loss-of-job? That's something different.
"Ah..." says the little help screen by the button for "Get on with it", as the machine notes the sweat on your brow.
"Ah?" you smile, all ingratiatingly.
"Ah," says the little help screen. "This will be a Problem Number 06."
"Oh right," you say. "And what the blithering jibbert might that be?"
"Problem #06," explains the very-little-help screen: "On the natural philosophy of toner..."
Today and on Tuesday I am working at somewhere of heightened security. I'd left myself ample time to get into the place this morning, but passing through the security gates my pass got a red light, not a green. This sometimes happens, so I tried it a few more times. Nada. Then I noticed the burly policeman with the machine gun coming over.
It eventually turns out that the nice people who gave me my shiny new pass on Tuesday hadn't done the thing to turn it on.
"This won't take a moment," said the policeman all obligingly, as I followed him into a small room.
"Can I just let my boss know where I am?" I said. You try to be courteous when the man's got a big gun.
"This won't take a moment," he said.
"I'm needed for 11, you see." It was now creeping towards quarter to.
"This won't take a moment," he said. But it did.
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