Saturday, 16 May 2009

A Morning in the Life of...

It may seem somewhat strange that for the past 7 months I have been an Inspector, but very rarely write anything interesting about my new role. The reason for this is quite simple, I don't actually do anything interesting. I am aware that there are those who take particular pleasure in an others misery and so, for their titillation and entertainment, here is a typical morning in the life of an office Inspector. I'm afraid I cannot be specific about my areas of business, as they are so mundane and insignificant that discussing them would make me easily identifiable to my Senior Officers. Even when I am posted as Duty Officer, there is none of the excitement of my previous district, Dystopia. I now work in Pleasantville, where the only crime that occurs is anti-social behaviour perpetrated by hooded Chavs. Fasten your seat belts, we shall be moving at a speed of 5 miles per hour, on a dry, level and even road.

07:30. Although I arrive 30 minutes before I am due to start, I won't actually get to my desk until 08:10. I will spend that time attempting to iron my shirt. Despite the iron having a sticker on it declaring that it was last tested by an electrician 6 months ago and is safe to use, it soon becomes apparent that it is only safe to use because its temperature never rises above moderately warm. There is no danger of burning oneself on the hotplate. There is no danger of it ironing your shirt. Then, quite without warning, a black residue will be emitted from the hotplate, smearing an irremovable sticky substance across my once pristine (but creased) nice, white shirt. Eventually I concede defeat and put my jumper on over it. This doesn't stop me attempting to iron my shirts each and every day I am on duty, even though the outcome is always the same. I have worked at different 8 police stations throughout Utopia, and all of the irons display the same contempt for my desire to have a nice, white, ironed shirt.

08:10. I arrive at my desk, turn on my computer and log on. Eventually a little grey box appears and asks me to be patient whilst my settings are loaded. There is a little grey button within this little grey box, which says 'OK' on it. A timer appears and begins to count down from 30. But I can't stay patient. I click on the 'OK' button repeatedly, hoping it will somehow make my settings load faster. They never do and, as with my futile attempts to iron my shirt, I still go through this same routine each and every time I am on duty. It's a phenomenon similar to when you press the button for a lift. The red light appears around the button to inform you that the lift is aware you are waiting, and yet you still press it repeatedly in the hope that the lift will somehow arrive sooner. It never does, but you still do this each and every time you go to use a lift.

09:00. There are four constables in the Control Room. They all have cups that have been empty since I arrived 50 minutes ago. I'm desperate for a cup of tea, and I know that if I go and make myself one, courtesy dictates that I must also ask them. That means I may have to make 5 cups of tea, which will take approximately 3 minutes extra of my time. There is also the danger that when I get to the fridge I'll discover the milk is finished, in which case I'll have to go to the canteen on the third floor. I decide to hold out until one of them offers to make a cup of tea. However, they have been in since 6am, and are probably buzzing on all of the caffeine that they consumed prior to my arrival. It's a dilemma I spend the next 20 minutes considering. Are they fully loaded up on caffeine? Or are they, like me, hoping someone else will offer in order to save effort and 3 minutes. I decide to hold out.

09:23. After going to the canteen to get some milk, I make 5 cups of tea.

09:30. I begin to clear all of the e-mails that I have received since I left for home at 4pm yesterday. There are 76 of them, the majority of which I am sure won't apply to me. I begin by clearing the ones that are for the attention of all officers. They are easy to identify, because they will begin with the words 'Failure to comply with this instruction/procedure/protocol/policy/directive/performance target/SOP/guidance will result in discipline.' Sending an e-mail with that warning provides an outer for the sending officer should their superior officer ask them why the inferior officers are not doing what they should. "Well, I sent them all an e-mail, so they do know about it, and I did warn them about the consequences of non-compliance." No one ever gets disciplined, however, because this would require the senior officer speaking to the inferior officer about what they should have done, which would in turn require the senior officer having to ask the lessor senior officer to send them the e-mail again because they, like everyone else, deleted it without reading it. Eventually, I retain one important e-mail, which refers to a leaving drink the following month.

10:00. I go to the Daily Review Meeting, which looks at all of the priority crime the day before, tasking returns, charges, bail to returns, sickness and so on. I determine to stay focused throughout this one-and-a-half-hour meeting, because previous experience has shown that the moment my mind begins to wander, the Detective Superintendent who chairs it will give me an action. I will then have to shift uncomfortably in my chair, write something down to pretend that I was listening, and then ask someone after what the action was. My mind strays. I wonder if that little bloke from 'Different Strokes' is still alive, and make it my goal, my raison d'etre, to Google it and find out the answer. "Mr. Hobbes, can you speak to the officer and find out why they didn't do what they should have done," I hear the Detective Superintendent say. I reply, "Yes Sir, of course, I'll let you know tomorrow." After the meeting I ask a colleague what the action was, and when I get back to my desk I send an e-mail to the officer in question which begins, 'Repeated failure to comply with this instruction/procedure/protocol/policy/directive/performance target/SOP/guidance will result in discipline.'

11:50. Despair sets in. My internet connection is down for maintenance. This means I will be unable to find out whether the little bloke from 'Different Strokes' is alive or not. The day is going badly so far, and I appear to be well and truly on course to achieve nothing of any significance yet again. With that, I go for lunch, and the hope that the afternoon will get better.

I know it won't.

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  1. Another legendary piece LH. Where do you get the time to scribe so profusely?

    To answer your query, unreliab-o-pedia (Wikipedia) seems to think Gary Coleman is still alive.

  2. You are good LH,

    I almost thought you were in my force then but the canteen isn't on the 3rd floor in our fairy castle.

    Please keep it up, I am new also but have read your previous posts and can't help but smile, or cringe at them.


  3. Boss,

    You seem like my kind of Inspector, but if you think you are not achieving what they want they will maybe not let you progress.

    Sgt T.

  4. Some of our bosses are a joke, they say what their bosses want to hear, and are so far up themselves and the next rank that they forget what is happening.

  5. Twining, you are quite correct. I have no desire to progress, as the closer I have come to working with senior officers the less I want anything to do with them. From a proactive unit catching burglars, robbers, murderers and rapists, to sitting in an office producing useless reports. Fortunately, this realisation has allowed me to say what I want, much to their displeasure. I wouldn't be writing this blog otherwise!

  6. Excellent boss. Would you please become Chair of the PBA, (Police Bloggers Asscoaition). Boss you do realise that if they knew you write then they would hold you in some distaste for fiding "them" out. You, like me, are a threat to their "politics." I say keep going and reveal their inner sanctums of failure.

  7. Funny post. Why is it that boring/meaningless work always forces you to obsess over the minutiae of office life?

    Is four coffees in one day too much? Will the ebay auction I'm bidding on be interrupted by a colleague at a crucial moment? What blog will I read next to put off doing that heinous stat dec?

    Keep 'em coming Inspector.

    - BJ.