I received a bollocking from a DMT today. 😦

It is a somewhat unique feature of London Underground that terms which might appear rude to the average person are often technical terms with LUL staff. We are often to be found travelling the network and innocently discussing our cocks or debating the best way to couple-up. Personally, I prefer to start by slowly sliding my tongue down the OH’s throat but there are a lot of drivers who prefer to just bang it home when they are shunting. IMHO not a good idea as this method shakes everyone up and doesn’t always achieve the desired result. It’s definitely a profession which can lead to misunderstandings, though on the plus side I’m now considering filming our defect-handling manuals and selling the dvd to Richard Tinney. But I digress.

‘A Bollocking’ is a technical term which describes the act of a Duty Manager (Trains) standing waving his arms about as he scolds a humbly-nodding traindriver. There are various levels of bollocking which are mostly determined by location. Generally one knows one is safe if it takes place in a corridor, at a booking-on point or any other area where other staff might pass. The dreaded ‘dragged into an office and bollocked’ is not good news, even less so if they start producing memo pads or forms to fill out. I will add at this point that naturally it is beneath a traindriver’s dignity to be bollocked on a platform but it’s always amusing to watch a CSA get it in the neck in front of customers.

It is generally not required that the driver on the receiving end understands what the bollocking is about. Not knowing what management are on about is a fine tradition of the tube and not one I’m about to buck. But today I was somewhat dismayed to be bollocked because it was being done by a DMT I’d never met before.

What with having bugger-all else to do today I was sent to another depot on another line to get something. Upon arrival I bumbled around the station for a bit until an IO passed and I was able to ask where the depot actually was. He pointed me in the direction of the signal-cabin which apparently had traincrew accomodation tucked in behind. Being primarily a signal cabin, not unnaturally the first thing I was met with once inside was a signaller. I stopped to say who I was and why I was there because although I was in uniform we are still somewhat security conscious. Besides, it’s only polite innit?

Once I had finished at the signaller’s end of the building I Made My Way (another technical term, somewhat akin to a police officer ‘Proceeding’) to the DMTs’ area. At which point I was soundly scolded for not having gone there first and signing into the building. I think this is a little hard as they are not the first people one comes to. In order to know where they are one must already be familiar with the building layout. So if they want perfect strangers to sign in immediately then have the sign-in forms at the front entrance. But I kept my thoughts to myself as I didn’t want to prolong the arm-waving. At one point the DMT paused for breath and I was able to hastily interject my reason for being there. He went on for a bit longer and then dispatched me to get the stuff I’d come for (it was a long stand). Once done I made my escape and sulked all the way back to my home location.

I am going to make LUL history here by undertaking an act which has never before been done by any traindriver. I’m going to admit I was wrong. I was wrong. See? I did it just there. That DMT was 100% correct to upbraid me for my scant regard for safety.

It was not until I reached home this evening and was grumbling to romalamadingdo about being bollocked that I realised exactly WHY I was told off. She pointed out the risks I’d taken by not signing in and as ever, she’s right. It simply is not good enough to wander into a building and not follow safety procedures. They are there for a reason and that reason is to keep us all safe and accounted for. I often comment about how safety-conscious railways are and this time was no exception. I slipped up badly here by completely ignoring the risks of kidnapping. Given my past history with kidnappings I’m actually embarrassed to say that I totally forgot it could happen.

At this point I would like to point out that my involvement with kidnappings is not solely as perpetrator. Yes, OK, I’ve made off with a number of cleaners and a CSA. And yes, I even scored extra points by zooming off with a detrainment supervisor who wasn’t actually detraining my train. But I’ve been a victim too. Let’s not forget that fact when we point the finger of blame. I was once a young trainee traindriver and innocent in the ways of LUL. Along came an IO who told me he had puppies at the next station. And so dazzled was I by his brilliance that I eagerly drove his train only to discover that when we got to the station the puppies had run off. He made me drive the train all the way to the other end and back and NO puppies. 😦 At least I didn’t get bollocked on that occasion for disappearing with an unauthorised instructor. Sympathy and tea is required for kidnapping victims.

Thinking more on this subject, it is clear that traindrivers are the perfect target for kidnapping. We are highly valuable, it costs an absolute MINT to train us so I’m betting there’s a high resale value. Plus we are portable and thus easy to make off with. Take off our special traindriver fleece, put us in a different jacket and somebody could just walk off with us. We are highly abductable and I’m only just beginning to comprehend the potential repercussions of this. WHY THE HELL DO WE NOT HAVE PERSONAL PROTECTION??!?!!?!

This is a real cause for concern. It’s ridiculously simple for kidnappers to identify potential victims. I shudder to think of the number of times I’ve naively wandered around the combine in my traindriver uniform, with my traindriver bag and making my way in a traindriverly fashion. And who is going to notice if a traindriver goes missing? With the CSA I kidnapped his colleague was able to help. He must have realised he was suddenly unattended on the platform and looked about him in a panic to find out what had happened. At which point he’d have seen his fellow-CSA waving forlornly as he whizzed by. One emergency radio call later and the alarm was raised. But traindrivers work alone! And we are never in the place we are supposed to be. We’re always wandering off somewhere and being unaccounted for. Who the hell would notice we’d been kidnapped? Nobody, that’s who. Until it’s too late.

I don’t often use this blog for anything other than stories. But today I want to use it to make a plea. If ever you are on a train and there are problems with finding a driver please, please, please stop and find out what’s going on. OK, it could just be a straying driver…BUT IT MIGHT NOT BE! Don’t be embarrassed to enquire and if you see somebody taking a driver somewhere and that driver is clearly not theirs then PLEASE kick up a fuss. You never know, the next time there are severe delays because of a crew-relief problem, there might be no more Severe Delays.