There’s a law of nature that powers the world of jobsworths everywhere: If you don’t give a man something important to do, he will make whatever he is doing important.
Tim Newman has a good piece on his blog about the British* propensity to take opportunities for conformity and petty power-wielding to the nth degree, and how our national attitude of grumbling capitulation compares to that of the heroically intransigent French.
He tells a story about a BMW service manager’s ‘more than my jobsworth’ view of the world, but then pricks our bubble of righteous indignation thusly:
There’s nothing a British jobsworth likes more than pompously telling you something mundane is illegal, truth be damned.
I decided to take the car in anyway.
Okay. I get it. We all compromise our principles from time to time, in the interests of convenience or whatever is the perceived priority in the moment.
There was no reason for Tim to do so in this case. He could have taken his car elsewhere, to a reputable independent, for example. But no, he dropped his trousers and bent over for Derek Humdrum from BMW Service, then took to his blog to complain that his arse hurts.
Well, I’m sorry Tim. It’s not good enough. There are times when we must regrettably acquiesce to the idiot majority, but in the situation described there was absolutely no reason not to take your business elsewhere, and probably save a few quid in the process.
If we keep giving in to the jobsworths and the pecksniffs, we do nothing whatsoever to discourage or disoblige them, or anything to favour those with a more reasonable and pragmatic view of the world. Both of which we should do at every available opportunity.
Resist the greyness!
*It’s not a uniquely British phenomenon – it’s also the Germans and the Scandinavians in my experience.