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Don’t you just love that title? It’s the sort of pompous title you get on certain message boards where xXx_cutegrl_xXx wants to tell The_Hunger351 that she’s no longer going to flirt with him online because he typed a disparaging remark about whichever of those bloody vampires it is she favours. Of course, it’s public because it’s not really about telling The_Hunger285 but about dissing him in response. He’ll reply with something about her low level of maturity and her friends will be outraged and defend her and then everyone will get involved and start shouting about cliques and pile-ons. Then there will be lots and lots of threads entitled ‘A public this that or the other’ and everyone will feel filled with RAEG and bad feelings will arise. What a terrible, terrible thing. I guess, what I’m trying to say is that public announcements are a Bad Thing and should not be made lightly because they inevitably lead to rioting in the streets and other forms of civil unrest until Badboy321 cleverly distracts everyone by asking for a good recipe for mashed potato half an hour later.

Happily, this entry is not about me telling Rainboze where she can stick it but about the sort of announcements made on trains. And the reason why I did not make one today.

It is usual that trains will not always proceed smoothly from one station to the next. In explanation I was going to insert the phrase ‘shit happens’ here but I think a far more understandable phrase would be ‘rush hour happens’. I’m sure you’re all fully aware of this one. (And I would just like to add that no matter how frustrating you find it to be trundling along at 10mph this is NOTHING to the frustration and boredom your driver feels. In general, most of us live to be zoomy and rolling along in what I’m going to call neutral gear to save explanations whilst staring at the arse of the train in front is mind-numbing. And not only that but it becomes incredibly difficult to maintain concentration on a fixed point (signal) when you’re having to control the train and keep the speed really slow. Hence why so many spads and other cock-ups happen during the peak).

Um…where was I? Oh yes, announcements. TPTB have in their infinite wisdom decided that should a train stop between stations the driver must make an announcement within thirty seconds to inform the passengers that the train has stopped. If it’s in a station they get ninety seconds. It’s much easier in a station by the way. Because in a tunnel it’s (shock!) dark and even if I had a watch I couldn’t see it. So you can now sit on my train during delays and giggle as you imagine me counting under my breath and trying to work out how long thirty seconds is. 😉

Now there are arguments for and against this practice and I might cover those in greater detail another time, but regardless of those it’s a thing that LUL are pushing hugely. So much so that every so often a line will be flooded with staff on light duties to monitor the timing of announcements and managers to be all proactive et merda. Herein lies the problem

At a station today there was a sea of orange jackets waiting up at the headwall. I pulled in and opened the doors. Up pops a DMT with a bottle of water (nice) and proffering a little card which has a reminder about the announcements. I declined the latter on the grounds that I generally make sensible announcements anyway so don’t really need reminding. This seemed fair enough to him and we then spent a minute or so gently squabbling about whether or not I was taking the water. It’s lovely to be given water when you are halfway somewhere but at that point I had two stations until I left for home so I didn’t fancy lugging an extra 500ml on my walk home. Unfortunately a more senior manager overheard my polite refusals and the DMTs gentle insistence and got the wrong end of the stick. So the senior manager came over and launched into his spiel about how important it is to make announcements and meet the targets.

This went on for a minute or so while the DMT smiled, kept quiet and sneakily waved a bottle of water at me. Given I didn’t actually know the senior manager I let him run on before agreeing and pointing out that I generally did make announcements at appropriate places but didn’t happen to want a drink of water at present. At which point an orange jacket who was monitoring announcements piped up with ‘But you haven’t made one here. I have to record that I didn’t hear you make one’.

Amusingly given the context this left me rather speechless. I’d now spent about three minutes (far too long) in this station being pestered about making announcements. This whole process has interrupted my usual behaviour in that station which is to….yes, make an announcement.

I mentioned this.

They said ‘Oh, yes, good point…’.

The senior manager thought fast and told me to just make a quick announcement before I left. This meant that the orange jacket could scribble out her ‘no announcement’ note and tick the ‘announcement made’ box instead. Ticking the box is important because we face disciplinary action if we don’t make announcements. While that doesn’t particularly worry me I imagine it would be embarrassing for senior management to be questioned about their role in my not complying with the rules. Cos trust me, I’d be stating that loud and long!

The suggestion to make a quick annoucement is a seemingly reasonable approach but slightly hampered by the fact I’m now running late and don’t really consider that I have enough time to make an announcement in the station. There’s nothing vital I can say about the service that can’t conceivably wait until I’ve got the train moving. But doing that means that the orange jacket on the platform won’t hear it and tick the box. Furthermore, what am I going to say? ‘Good afternoon ladies and gents, this announcement is to tell you that I’m making an announcement. I apologise for the lack of announcement prior to this but I had a manager up here preventing me from making an announcement by telling me that I had to make lots of announcements…. This has consequently delayed the service and we’re all now going to be late. Please listen out for further announcements regarding an update to this situation.’

Hrmm. That won’t work. What to say? I metaphorically threw up my hands, lifted the PA handset and told the passengers where we were going, shut the doors and zoomed off. This was information they already had. It told them nothing about the service or the reason for the delay but hey, it got me a box ticked. 🙂