How apt that just as I blog about sickness at work, the country is set to be gripped by a pandemic of swine flu. If you thought the bout of foot & mouth a few years ago filled too many news reports, just wait until the flu takes a firm hold.
I predict that the control room will be the first place it strikes in our area. It will run through the room like a dose of salts. The management will have a right dilemma on their hands; they’ve been trying to play the guilt card for the last year sending out reports & emails to everyone with lofty pronouncements urging you to think of your colleagues & the extra stress they are put under when YOU go sick. There is, funnily enough, never any mention of the stress they are under already due to the dangerous levels of staff which they have overseen.
The official advice will be for anyone with the remotest symptom to stay at home for at least a week so as not to spread anything. This will leave the management up a certain smelly watery conduit without the means of extrication.
The staffing situation will probably be replicated on the streets too, unless police officers will be made exempt from the flu by some hastily drawn up government policy – they seem to make instant decisions almost daily, and then reverse them.
Whatever the levels, I guarantee that the general public will still expect the same level of service as when we are fully staffed (not that it’s anything to write home about, but hey).
The control room is an absolute haven for flu germs, we share each other’s diseases quite freely in there. We spend a whole shift using a keyboard which might have the germs from half a dozen people since we last used it. We speak into telephones covered in the germs of dozens of people & headsets are often shared.
When we go to the toilet, although the walls are plastered with posters pleading with us to wash our hands, with handy diagrams in case we don’t know how, half of us don’t. Those of us who do might as well not bother. I mean, you finish the deed & then turn on the tap depositing whatever is on your fingers onto the tap. You wash your hands & then turn off the tap collecting back whatever it wasÃ‚Â you left there, and what everyone else has left there. You then dry your hands & collect, open the door & collect whatever the last 200 people who didn’t wash their hands has left on the door handle for you.
I look very strange when I leave the rest room, preferring to open it by pushing the door at the point where it meets the ceiling as most people can’t reach there & I figure there are less creepy bacteria up here than on the door handle.
I have a feeling I’m going to be spending a lot of time at home in bed, or sitting in the corner if the operations room n a white paper suit refusing to type anything on a computer or speak to anyone further away than 30 feet, and peeing into a bottle.