Thursday, November 26, 2009


My new sofa arrived yesterday, so Mrs C helped me load the old one onto Chalk Enterprises' van and I drove down to Oxfam, feeling a warm glow at the thought of doing my bit for those less fortunate than myself.

It took quite a while to work my way through the procession of gigantic 4*4 buses returning from the half mile school run and by the time I arrived, I had pretty much convinced myself that I would be greeted by a loud trumpet blast, before being escorted up a red carpet by a man in livery, with a dancing girl throwing rose petals down in front of me. All the staff would be lined up either side cheering, like I was Jordan.

It wasn't quite like this, but nevertheless I proudly marched up to the front desk and announced to the vaguely odd looking bloke that I had a nice sofa to donate which was clean, tasteful and compliant with all fire regulations. Could he possibly just help me carry it the ten feet from my van to the shop? I waited for him to embrace me with joy and invite passers by to come in and meet me, but instead he muttered into his feet:

"Sorry there's nobody here that can help you"
"Staff can't carry things for customers"
"But it's there, ten feet away! I only need you to hold one end of a sofa. It's not heavy. I'm sure he could carry it" (pointing at a little African boy in a large poster on the wall)

A short, plump woman in a suit with a badge that said 'Manager' then arrived. I explained again that I just wanted to donate my sofa to the little boy in the poster and indicated my van parked outside. So near and yet so far.

Unimpressed with my attempt to end global povery, she proudly announced that: "Staff aren't insured for carrying things! What if they slipped and had an accident?"

An elderly customer then offered to help; gave the manager his walking stick and before she could tell him that staff couldn't look after customer's belongings, the sofa was in the shop. All feelings of satisfaction however, had unfortunately long departed, to be replaced by a deep frustration at the direction we seem to be going in.

It might just have been my imagination, but I could swear that as I drove off, the same little boy in the huge poster covering the whole shop window seemed to be sticking two fingers up at me.


The TEFL Tradesman said...

It's not just the bloody-mindedmess of petty officialdom, though - there's sometimes a real paranoia out there.

I'll tell you a story about when I lived in the UAE. A friend of mine found a wallet in the street, and, noticing that there was a US driver's licence and other assorted Americana in it, duly took it to the US Embassy. But did they want it? No way, man!

There might be a bomb concealed in it, she was told, or some other suspect device, so she was not even allowed to enter the building! But the local Emirati police station was happy to accept it - I guess they have rather different reservations about such things, if any at all.

So, is the Western world doomed? Damn well looks like it!

amigauser said...

Tell us Mr Chalk,
When you were a proper teacher, how many times did u put your job on the line, by doing things that you had no authority to authorize?

If the employee had suffered back damage, would you have compensated them for loss of earnings?

If you have a problem about managers/staff not bing insured to carry heavy objects, surely you should take it up with the senior managers of Oxfam

jerym said...

amigauser,you just dont get it do you.
The `we are only obeying orders`state of mind is a very dangerous attitude and can lead to all sorts of trouble.

Anonymous said...

It's becoming the same everywhere. Nobody dares ask anybody to lift the lightest object or go more than a foot off the ground in case they fall over and sue. Every employee has to be treated as if they are infirm and the lazy ones just take advantage.

amigauser said...


Would you like us to return to how we use to live, when employees where disposable?

You notice that Mr Chalk always makes statements implying that things where much better in the olden days, or that hard science/math/engineering have more value than soft ones like media - wages proving otherwise.

Biggles said...

Fuck me Amigauser, he was trying to donate a sofa to Oxfam and the guy behind the desk wouldn't help him carry it 10 feet.
And this represents an attempt to return to a world 'when employees were disposable'?
The joke of your comment is is that when Oxfam's supply of doughty old customers who are prepared to put down their walking sticks and help out comes to its natural end, the guy behind the desk will be fucked and out of a job (or 'disposable' if you prefer) because Oxfam will have gone bust because no-one will bother donating anything any more.
You poor, daft, deluded bastard.

Steve said...

"when employees were disposable"
"when employees where disposable"

At least in the good old days people could spell.

Jobsworth twit.

Bill said...

Had some bloke knock on the door last week & suggested that I might like to donate my old clothes to the starving.

I told him to bugger off.

If they can fit my clothes they can't be starving.

Anonymous said...

Oxfam isn't at risk of going bust from lack of donations, they get great wads of taxpayer funding from the gooberment. They need it to pay the fat bloated salaries to their senior staff.

Next time you need to get shot of a sofa or whatever, don't waste time taking it to Oxcon, just put it on Freeshare.

Rich said...

"Staff aren't insured for carrying things! What if they slipped and had an accident?" So they never move furniture in the shop? If a chair's in the wrong place they just stand and look at it hopefully? what if you'd left your sofa in the doorway?

Rules are they to relieve people of the responsibility of thinking. Which they embrace with enthusiasm. And then watch X-factor.

kae said...

I'm in Australia, in a country town about 100km west of Brisbane. A few years ago I had a bit of a cleanout of furniture I no longer needed (I'd finally managed to afford a lounge suite). I have no trailer or method of getting furniture to anywhere so I phoned several local second-hand-for-charity outlets. Churches, Red Cross, etc.
The only one which picked up, and only on Wednesdays, was the Salvation Army. They got my stuff, and were very happy to get it, too.

Lilyofthefield said...

On several occasions I have carted stuff down to Oxfam to have it picked over in front of me and stuff they don't want handed back to me for disposal.

Now I can kinda see where this is coming from, but the result has been that the last time I had a load of perfectly serviceable stuff to get rid of, I drove it down to the council tip and binned the lot. Job done. Land filled.

GladysPew said...

I only donate to local charities like the hospice shop. The big charities are stuffed to the brim with leftoid twats who I despise, so why would I help pay their wages?

Anonymous said...

Emmaus. Helpful, polite, enthusiastic.

Oxfam. Pinch-faced sanctimonious gits.

Where are you going to donate?

What I don't understand is why, at the first sign of ungratefulness, you didn't simply say "Sod you then", turn on your heel and go somewhere you'd be appreciated.

phatboy said...

I recently tried to donate a load of hardback books that I had read once and were in perfect condition.

I had to visit 5 different charity shops before I found one that wanted to know. What surprised me though was that I was there to give them a load of modern, recently published, novels but what they had on their shelves were tatty old rubbish that had clearly been there years!