Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Fri 28th Dec, 2007

I need a cheap hit-man - 001

I'm staying up with my Mum for this Christmas, and as part of that I'm helping her out with various jobs around the place. One of these jobs is to plant new trees at Chapel Hill Primary School, where she works as a teacher aide - trees she's raised or bought herself, too. Why, you might ask, would an ordinary teacher aide be coming in on a holiday to plant trees when the school should be buying them and getting the groundsman to plant them? Oohhhhohohohhhohhh. Yes. The groundsman.

His name is Steve, and from all reports he is a shiftless, lazy bastard with the spine of a sewer. He refuses to do any work at the school unless it is mowing - hence we drive large stakes in around the trees (again, purchased by Mum without any help from the school) to protect them from Steve trying to mow over them as much as from the kids. And that's it - he refuses point blank to do any work that would require him to get on a ladder, or to do any work which could be classified as someone else's job, on 'demarcation' issues. "Not My Job" would seem to be his catch-cry.

And even when it is his job - such as building up a terraced wall to stop erosion, he comes up with some bald-faced lie to excuse himself from it. In this case, he claimed that if he built up a terraced wall, kids might fall off it and hurt themselves - so instead it gets left as a six-foot scree slope, which kids would supposedly be safe on. If all that fails, he just lies about when he's going to do it. "Oh, I can't do that this week, ask me next week" is the excuse he foists on the enquirer; what he's busy with is a complete mystery, as he seems to rarely be in his shed and off doing 'banking' or something else.

The problem is compounded by the fact that the headmaster is a nice, kindly man who wouldn't hurt a fly - in other words, Steve has bullied him into never trying to get him to do any work. In the one instance that the deputy headmaster came in and gave him a direct order, Steve brought in the union to say that only the headmaster could tell him what to do. And my Mum is convinced that there is no other way to get him to change, in fear of the problems she would have when some bureaucratic Education Department investigator comes and questions her, Ross and Steve and makes it known (by their heavy-handedness) that she's the one that complained. I'm not convinced that's right, myself, but Mum's been there for nigh on thirty years and wants to just last out the rest of her working life there rather than have to find another job. (And my personal bet is that if Steve got wind of anyone trying to oust him he'd get the union to make sure that such an investigation was as loud and obvious as possible.)

The thing that hurts me so much is that my Mum is suffering under this clown, doing what she can, breaking her back and her purse, to make the school environment something that she loves, and this retarded boot-scraping is blocking her at every turn just to make sure that he never has to do a single thing. The grade 4's plant some screening plants so that they don't have to watch everyone go in and out of the toilets, but the holes are in the middle of a patch of grass and Mum's bitter experience is that they will get mown down by Steve rather than have to do more work getting around them. So she digs a trench the entire way along and fills it with mulch. Steve walks by and says, "I don't know why you bother with mulch there, they'd grow much better with just the grass around them." As if this horse-biscuit is suddenly an expert in gardening; it's easy to see that he'd rather not mow around the plants...

There's got to be a way of getting him out of there. I occasionally say, "It can't be that hard to find a reasonably-priced hit man" in situations like this, but the Muslim world seems bent on proving that that's not the answer.

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