It’s Monday morning, and the conversation by the kettle (we don’t have a water cooler so the kettle acts as a substitute), has turned to the state of the tea towels. Not for us a feisty discussion about whether Oscar Pistorius is guilty or not, nor idle gossip considering if our ready meals contain animal, vegetable or mineral. The most important topic is why the tea towels weren’t washed at the weekend.
Jill is nominally in charge of the tea-towel washing rota, and uses the same list as for the subs she doesn’t collect from us. The idea is that each person in turn takes home the tea towels on a Friday and returns them freshly laundered on Monday morning. It would appear to be a simple system.
In life though, and in the tea club nothing is ever that simple. The flaw is that this modus operandi assumes that the person on the list is present in the office on their identified Friday, and again on the Monday morning. There is no consideration of annual leave, part-time working, people working off site or any other reason that they may not be in the office on Friday to take the tea towels home even if they wanted to. Nor is there any way to ensure that the tea towels get returned after the weekend.
Well who was supposed to do it? complained the parade of PAs who had discovered the crime. It turned out that the Finance Director was next on the list. This was never going to work. He was at a regional meeting on Friday and doesn’t actually know where the kitchen is anyway. It is hardly a surprise that he didn’t the tea towels home in his brief case. It also turns out that they weren’t washed the week before either. That was because the nominated washee was er Jill. Who only works Wednesdays. And who set the system up.
Perhaps inevitably, nobody has identified a better system. They are too busy grumbling about the existing one. And we still have dirty tea-towels.