I dropped my TV remote with the hotel reception this morning in order that they could replace the batteries whilst I was at work. Normally I would, in keeping with most of the world, simply removed said batteries, warmed them with my hands and replaced. The reason that I enlisted the hotel’s services was that they now have screws securing the battery cover. This change came about a year or so ago when this particular hotel upgraded the TV units themselves, the TVs are not secured to the wall or chained to the table.
I don’t know why but I take this action very much as the thin end of the wedge. I cannot think for one minute that the hotel loses a significant amount of batteries to theft. Sure there will be people who need a couple of batteries and exchange their exhausted cells for the ones in the remote but would people actually collect them as an implied gift, surely not. There is, in my opinion, an implied trust between a hotel and its guests and I would be very concerned if this changed. Will the next step be securing the remote to the TV by means of a cord? Or perhaps they will install airport scanners and as you to empty your bag on exit? I implore all hotels considering moves such as this to consider their position, you have the name, address and credit card details of all of your guests so don’t look upon it as stealing, look upon it as shopping and charge them. Imagine the embarrassed company executives explaining why there is a $5 charge on their invoice for “TV remote batteries”.
Following the vein of security I had to refresh one of the many licenses one requires to work on infrastructure this week. Anyone that works in big organisations or on significant infrastructure will be familiar with this particular style of boredom. It seems inherent in big organisations that common sense requires some sort of formal assessment. When such assessment is undertaken high failure rates result in the whole thing being ‘dumbed down’, eventually you have a test that a one eyed field mouse could pass. In the mad world of equality the normal human beings have to regularly take these tests despite always passing with flying colours.
I have always considered that this should be approached in a similar manner to the old joke of “read all of the questions”. The joining instructions should advise you to get up, get dressed and put on your shoes then call this number. Those that call have shown enough ability to be awarded a pass without disrupting their lives any further. Sadly we don’t live in Gav’s world so I found myself travelling across the city for what is, in this case, a bi-annual affair. My hopes that the ability to negotiate the elevator and reach the training suite would be sufficient evidence to produce a pass were dashed when we were required to sit and wait.
The first challenge for the 20 or so candidates was the basic reading test. Each one of us had to present identification in the form mandated by the joining instructions. There was a failure at this stage for the guy that simply hadn’t brought any evidence, despite his protestations that he “knew he was him”. Victim two had been too quick to claim success, having secured his passport he did not read the second line that required proof of address, he was quickly dispatched. The third early bath was somewhat more special and was operating under the section marked ‘if you do not hold a British passport’. Apparently he needed photographic identification and to meet this requirement he had passed a document. The woman inspecting his ID observed that there was a small child in the photograph and, for a minute, I fully expected him to say “it was many years ago”.
This young man was not so daft, he leant across and pointed at the picture “that is me, behind my son”. I caught a glimpse of said picture and the man did indeed appear to be holding a small boy up to the camera so the ID was worthless. This didn’t stop the man complaining, it was obvious that it was him in the picture because it was his son, who else would be holding him? But you could see his hair and one ear behind his son couldn’t you? I was actually quite taken aback, and just a little let down, that he didn’t open his bag, produce a small boy, hold him up in front of his face and say “see, like this”.
Three down the remaining filed into the room to undertake the PC based assessment. Once the invigilator had taken the time to settle the 4 or 5 who could not comprehend the mystery of a mouse and the three that had failed to enter their name in the box titled “name” we commenced. 16 questions that a three legged, Albanian mountain goat could get correct. The sort of ‘test’ that you can almost feel the PC cringing at displaying. On this occasion only two of us completed it in the 4 minutes that a human being should need. A further 5 drifted out during the allotted 20 minutes and the rest had to be wrestled out of their seats having become stuck on a question.
I often wonder why these organisations do not look at these sorts of tasks as natural selection and an opportunity to remove the pond life. For me I would hire a sniper and save the elevator the effort of taking the brain dead back to the ground floor. I should point out that I do not consider simply not being computer literate to be a failure, there has to be some exceptions. A colleague refreshed the same license recently and on the mandatory course was a hawk handler. This guy had real issues with the PC, I guess ‘mouse’ had an entirely different meaning to him. When faced with incredulous invigilator who couldn’t understand how he had never used a PC he turned and explained “I fly a bloody big hawk around buildings”.