Sunday, 21 July 2013

July: Here come the workies!

Our official Health & Safety Poster
In Reading, July is work experience season. Fresh-faced Year Tenners leave the ivory towers of Highdown, John Madejski Academy, Little Heath etc to bless the businesses of Reading with their expertise and attitude problems.

As a small computer repair firm, is the destination of choice for a certain type of geeky boy. (Where ARE the geeky girls? Are there seriously still none?). Every year, I say I am only taking one this year. Every year, the nice people from the placement organisation phone me to beg a place for just one more. They are cunning and astute enough to use flattery and pleasantness so I generally cave in. As a result, we've had more than a few workies here.

Each worky gets 5 days, 10-4. We have five short days to turn them from schoolboys to men. Sounds like an impossible remit, but we've been surprisingly successful. We like to think.

Induction takes place at 10am Monday morning and goes like this.

"I'm Helen I'll be your Mum. That's Andy he'll be your Big Brother. That's Dan, he'll be your other Big Brother. There is a toilet and stuff upstairs. Are you OK with dogs? Oh well, tough. We are having trouble remembering your name so will call you Caspar. Fire extinguisher over there somewhere. Don't attempt any soldering. That there is the workbench, take the worst chair and go and put a new DVD drive in that laptop."

The Workies vary of course, they are after all just tiny human beings. But I've noticed a few trends over the years.

The first is that most of them know more about fixing computers than I do. Astonishing since I was configuring VPNs since before they were born.

The second is that most fail to ID me as a boss. Just because I appear to be insane and scatty they reckon they can give me lip. Consider the photo above. The Worky wrote Darth Vader in indelible ink in the section marked "Other Health and Safety Contacts" on the Health and Safety Poster. We spent ages making like Poirot trying to figure out who would do such a terrible thing, scarcely able to believe it could be our littlest soldier. But he fessed up with an insouciant chuckle. By this time, I'd blamed my new boyfriend Martin, who was adamant he was insufficiently witty.  It's probably illegal to name this little s*d, but oi! you know who you are!

The third thing is that they reckon it's OK to get their DSes out at any given moment. Er... no it isn't little dudes.

Despite this insurrection, (a direct result of insufficient thrashings in the modern school system) we have had fun with our Workies. One of my favourites was a chap from Hugh Faringdon who started off sullen, resentful and full of sighs. By Friday, he was keen, hard-working and dying to build his own computer.

An honourable mention should also go to the proto-genius who made this sculpture from hard-disk packaging a couple of years ago. As fresh today as it was then.

And Caspar - the most recent Worky - you were great. Team-player, respectful, laughed at my jokes, knew about computers and did what he was told. You are welcome here any time.

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