The naked engineer: The Tornado and the pox

Posted on 10 Jun 2013 by The Manufacturer

Fuel pump failures and personnel problems with chicken pox.

Attila the PA’s dulcet tones cut through my hangover like a chainsaw through balsa as I try unsuccessfully to manoeuvre past her lair. “Bob’s waiting to see you” she yelled.

Still marinating in the end of last night’s revelry in Cavendish’s so had to take a taxi into work. Iranian taxi driver – lovely chap. Used to be a rocket scientist in Iran but they won’t let him practise here – obviously. Had been watching too many Star Wars movies for work though, and used The Force to drive and Zen to navigate.

Bob the Builder had arrived just after Luke Skywalker pulled away barely missing Attila. He was in to sort a few minor snags in our new, very 21st century, engineering labs. A ceiling had fallen onto 35 highly paid and very pissed off boffos and a sewerage malfunction had turned the car park into something resembling the Ganges.

Parker (Engineering Director) was waiting to pounce on me, hangover or no hangover. He had the look of a man who knows something’s gone really tits up but whose mind is flailing around inside his head trying to put a positive spin on it. It wasn’t an unusual visage for him.

“Just had a call from Flight Systems at Farnborough. Fuel pump failure on a GR4. Just dropped the RAF’s most senior female pilot into the Wash. She’s a bloody Group Captain and she’s looking for someone’s head!”

“Probably messed up her hair” I said, not doing much to quell Parker’s angst. “Best send her to one of those new NHS minor injuries clinics for a bad hair appointment. That’s about all they’re sodding good for”.

Janice (HR Director) gave me a scathing look as she walked in on the fagend of the conversation.

“They want a director up there today to take the heat” Parker replied, looking me rather unnervingly in the eye.

“Bit of a personnel problem” interrupted Janice. Normally a ghastly precursor of doom, her words came as a pleasant distraction after Parker’s bombshell…..for a few seconds.

“Statutory Sick Pay only nowadays. Sickness absence dropped like snot from a two year old when we brought that one in”

“How so?”

Eighty five staff off with chicken pox, including the MD of Flight Systems and the Greek’s got mumps.

“The pox!? There’s another fortune in sick pay down the toilet” I said, although I was hugely heartened by Jimmy (FD) catching mumps at 42 with the various undignified swelling gland implications that carried.

“We’re fine on that front” Janice replied. “We stopped paying contractual sick pay over two years ago. One of your better HR policies,” she said without the slightest tone of condescension. “Statutory Sick Pay only nowadays. Sickness absence dropped like snot from a two year old when we brought that one in. No more duvet days. The Civil Service could learn a bit from us on that front” she added thoughtfully.

Cheered by saving a few shekels on salaries this month, as well as the pain Jimmy was in, I yelled through the wall at Attila “Get me a ticket to Farnborough. I’ve got some hair styling to do”.