Something that I’ve always known but was pointed out to me by a couple of pals the other night, is that I’m pretty crap at following orders and/ or authority.
Truth be told I have no problem with authority, provided the power being wielded is in the hands of a capable and intelligent person who actually knows what they’re doing…and not some daft cunt with no clue.
As an example.
My dismal 3.5 years as a Postman (with driving) for Royal Mail saw the advent of Graduate Managers. These guys were in their early 20s and had just come out of uni. Some still had spots. They were placed in the delivery offices nationally as level 4 (lowest rank) line managers with Fast Track to the giddy heights of DOM (Delivery Office Manager) in level 3, 2, or 1 or even 7 (yep, it’s a weird system) provided they could make their bones on the shop floor. Most guys including me were hesitant about this. One postie in the Leamington Spa depot is 71 and old enough to be the great grandfather of the graduates, (provided he and his offspring’s offspring were randy fuckers who started early enough that is)
True to form we giggled at them and even told them to go fuck themselves if they tried any semblance of power playing BUT generally the two I saw were patient, humble and in 90% of cases didn’t try to give it the Big Un but realised they needed to earn the respect of the much older staff they were destined to lead. I compared it initially to the Russell Crowe movie Master & Commander where you had 12 year old Midshipman Blakeney giving orders to grizzled seamen in their fifties. However the graduates were usually OK and it was more often than not their own nervousness that led to the odd slip.
(Cute, blonde, 22 year old Charlotte “Lotti” Phillips, future DOM of Warwick depot and self confessed One Direction fan says she needs a “word” about me not completing my Walk yesterday. We go into the managers’ office).
Charlotte (in a high pitched lisp): “I need to talk to you about you mithing thome of your Walk yethterday”.
Me: “Right, first of all lower your voice half an octave and stop lisping, you don’t normally talk like that!”
Charlotte: “I’m trying to be nithe!”
Luckily the actual DOM then stuck his head in the door and began a shouty bollocking where I told him to shove off which saved Charlotte from attempting any further impersonations of Violet Elizabeth Bott.
No one minded them being around as managers were regarded as turds by default and young turds were more or less the same to belligerent, grumpy posties in depots the country over.
Where authority and me fall out is in situations like having a PCSO (for non UK readers, a civilian version of a cop but with no arrest powers. Google it, it’s hard to believe but is nauseatingly a true thing) who doesn’t know that domestic violence laws cover ex partners. Or a British Rail ticket inspector who is so used to bullying passengers that he doesn’t know that he absolutely has to show ID upon demand. Or security guards at the Royal Priors shopping centre in Leamington Spa who refuse to intervene in incidents as they think that they can’t (they can). And people who bleat about the fact you absolutely can’t touch children in schools not even to break up a fight…when that right is established in common law AND it’s a matter of policy that no school is meant to have a “no contact” policy.
My gripe runs deep because authority is there to be respected BUT it has to be able to back up its chevrons, pips or laurel wreaths. As a child I had a very slick, professional dentist named Dr Smith who I was never afraid of (mainly because I didn’t get fillings until I was 13). He never hurt me or was grumpy but was Good Authority personified. Calm, gentle and reassuring.
Recently I did a zip line thingumabob in Moldova. I was strapped into a harness and pushed out over a drop that took in trees and a huge lake. I was totally at peace with the youngish guy dealing with it strapping me in as he seemed to know what he was doing.
In 2001 I did a parachute jump and while I was scared I was also totally, 100% ready to leap out the plane as my instructor/ harness partner was so good at demonstrating what he wanted me to do and putting me at ease.
Authority that doesn’t have a clue gets right on my tits.
Some of the most vicious, small minded and petty people I know are those who had SOME authority but not very much. Supervisors in both civilian jobs and my brief jaunt in the police were beyond cretinous in many aspects but demanded respect due to being one rank up. Conversely the most humble man I served with in the City of London Police was the Commandant of the Special Constabulary (volunteer chief officer). He got promoted from constable to the top job in a day and never lorded it over anyone, even seeming embarrassed when I asked to look at his shoulder bling one day.
I would never have made a soldier. The physical discipline I could have handled but taking orders without question…something else entirely.
Growing up being told to obey without question leads to an embittered subservience that serves no real purpose. I recently read a report that said that a huge percentage of CEO and Managing Directors in global companies are on the sociopath scale due to the types of personality those jobs nurture. No downtrodden foot soldier ever rose beyond a supervisor’s rank because to do so you have to be able to actually form an opinion and be able to verbalise it.
As I get older and am finally starting to mellow I can feel that I’m able to question what goes on without flying off the handle all the time.
Nuff said for time being.