30 May Common Sense No More
It started off a happy day. The sun was shining and there was a slight breeze. The rose bushes were showing lots of new buds so I was hopeful by the weekend there’d be a riotous display of colour in the front garden. I’m not a lover of rose bushes; in fact, at one purchased home I promptly had them pulled out and replaced with what I call flowers. I do, however, love them as a cut flower – except red roses.
Having worked in the funeral industry for a couple of years, to me red roses were the symbol of death as so many would have this flower in the casket sprays and wreaths. I understand they are a symbol of love, and the grieving relatives and friends were indicating their love for that person, but it really did make me shiver if I received red roses, particularly from a man. To me it signalled the end of the relationship!
Anyway, I digress … back to why I was growling and scowling that day. I used to use my car to travel to places I had to visit for work, as well as to the office. If using our private car we were eligible to claim mileage. Apparently, we were not supposed to do more than two hundred and fifty kilometres in one week, or a thousand kilometres in a calendar month. Previously this hadn’t been enforced, so it was news to me, and the new team leader was definitely a stickler for the rules. One month I was rapped over the knuckles for clocking up just over three hundred kilometres in one week, even though my month’s total was only six hundred and fifty. The rule was: if we were going to do over the allotted kilometres we were required to book either a department car or a hire car. More often than not there were not enough department cars so the more senior, in level rather than age (otherwise I would certainly get one), had preference over us plebs way down the ladder. The following week I needed to hire a car and, of course, there was only one company with which the department had a contract, and that company did not have a branch very close to my home. The next hurdle, therefore, soon became apparent. As we were not able to leave our private cars parked at the hire company, we needed to get a taxi and not the cheaper Uber variety either. What an absolute bother! No arguments, I did that, even though it meant I had to leave home half an hour earlier than I usually did to get to the hire company when it opened its doors at 7.30am (the time I’d usually left home). Imagine my dismay when I arrived to find I was fifth in line with only one man working the counter. They had one other bringing around the cars or trucks, however it took about 15 minutes to go through the pick-up procedure with each individual party. Those ahead of me were all collecting 1 tonne moving vans which were on special Mondays and Tuesdays. Nearly an hour later …
That meant there was a delay getting onto the freeway and I was right in the middle of the peak hour traffic. I had an automatic, fortunately, otherwise I would have had my left foot permanently pumping the clutch while the right foot did a dance between the brake, where it mostly was, and the accelerator, which felt a little left out. A trip which usually took me forty-five minutes took over two hours. I dislike wasting time, unless I want to waste it!
The thing, however, I was most upset about was the waste of money. Now let’s do the Maths. The department usually paid 44c/km. The visits I did that week totalled 400 kilometres, give or take a kilometre, therefore I would have been paid about $175. Instead I had to hire a car for three days at the cost of $203. The taxi from home to the hire company and return rounded down to $50. Then the top up of fuel was $3.30 a litre. Estimating the car did 10 kilometres per litre it meant 40 litres and $130 for fuel. The whole total for the hire car therefore was around $385, which by my calculations was (OK I did check it with the calculator as it was handy) over $200 more expensive. If we factor in two hours of work time to do the extra running around, at a conservative $50 per hour, it was a grand total of a wasted $300.
We wonder why no one thinks laterally or demonstrates common sense anymore! And why Government departments don’t have the dollars for their necessary goals. Go figure!