Asylum Culture

Seeing the in-coming nursing assistant, I said:
“Welcome to our exclusive club”
“What? The mile high bestialism club you mean?” he replied with razor sharpness.
“No. The ‘I actually turn up for work’ club.”
Office culture probably wasn’t as advanced at the unit as in a bank, building society or insurance office, because we were too anarchic and self-seeking to really have a discernible culture. Nevertheless, it was impossible to escape the working day without some form of badinage, plenty of ritual complaints and a pot-pourri of petty politics, as people strove to gain their little psychological advantages. We also had some classic many-skirted princesses and multi-shirted heroes, including two chaps who came to work like eighteenth century aristocrats visiting a bordello, reeking of so much after-shave that a naked flame would have blown the walls out. Generally speaking, if you were a fully paid up member of a witches’ coven (or the warlocks’ equivalent), you would fit in seamlessly.

You would be welcomed, hideously.

However, one activity which we certainly had in common with other offices, was the ritual of gift ‘collection’ for staff who were leaving, and because we had such a high turnover of disaffected personnel, these collections occurred with blurring frequency. At one time there were so many going on, and the anticipated donations were so high, that we were almost working for a net financial loss. Even temporary staff were expecting to go away with a 100 piece Crown Derby dinner service, or a day at Silverstone in a Ferrari F1 car, and they even had the cheek to demand a product change if they didn’t like what we gave them. I mentioned the current collection to my new colleague, who was notoriously parsimonious, and he said:

“I’d love to contribute, but unfortunately I’ve left my wallet at home.”

“Well, I can pay in £5, and you can repay me later” Sidney teased.

“Eh? Oh, w-well there’s no need to bother, I’ll probably drop it in later. N-no need to put yourself out on my account” he spluttered.

“You know, I didn’t really believe it when somebody told me that you reused your condoms” I said “ until I saw them hanging on the washing line one day”

“Get stuffed”.

“Then there was that story about you using charity collection bags for your own rubbish.”

“Well, everybody does that”.

Yes, but not everybody then puts the bag out for the charity collection man to dispose of.”


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