Friday, 22 June 2012
Speaking of the 'wages round' earlier this week reminded me of a funny story. Our wages office at work housed two elderly ladies of twin-set and pearls, tightly permed hair and sober disposition. In their brightly lit office they would drink endless cups of tea, not coffee and constantly there was a sound of the scrunch-crunch and rolling ratchet-rattle of old fashioned comptometers or adding-machines, which was how calculations were done in the modern world of 1967.
How did we ever get things done before calculators and computers? Yet, even then a few miles further on into Manchester, the boffins were improving and tinkering with the humongous invention that has transformed the lives of humanity...the computer.
Mrs T and Mrs K bumbled plumply into each of the surrounding office departments on a Friday around lunch-time, handing out wage packets much like the Queen Mother did the Maundy money on Maundy-Thursday. Munificently, as though it was money from their own coffers they were doling-out gracefully. Mrs T was the senior employee, way past retiring age or so she appeared to me as I was then, a slim unwritten upon maiden of seventeen. She did seem to get distracted and kerfuffled, disarmingly she'd drift off somewhere never finishing a sentence she started. This particular day she put her comptometer to sleep at 5:30 as was her routine. Routines were to be adhered to especially in the most important office of the company, everything had a place or a moment for doing it otherwise the whole creation might collapse about our ears. Therefore the wages department was put to bed for the night and Mrs T having said her farewells to colleagues made her way outside to the bus-stop. Some moments later our manager deciding an important letter needed to catch the evening post and therefore needing a postage-stamp used his pass-key to open up the wages office door and then the safe where all the stamps were placed overnight, only to find Mrs T's handbag cosily bunged inside the safe, squashed in 'fatly' with the stamp-book and other safe-keep-ables.
"What the.....??" he must have thought to himself.
Quick as a rat up a drainpipe he was out of the office door, down the steps outside the building and sprinting to the local bus-stop where stood Mrs T with the cash box tucked into her shopping bag apparently, blithely unaware anything was amiss.
The story goes she had been on automatic-pilot and absent-mindedly put the bag instead of the cash box into the safe. Well that's the way the rest of us had it explained to us, but I can't help thinking if after forty years she'd finally 'had enough' and decided to go AWOL for a final fling somewhere in Acapulco!