Gordon Was Their Glue

, , , | Working | May 11, 2021

Gordon was a janitor, odd-job man, and general get-things-done man at a care facility for vulnerable adults and the elderly. He was happy, friendly, cheerful, and competent, kept the infrastructure running well, and kept the place spick and span. Basically, he was really good at his job and went above and beyond as the necessity presented itself.

Come the day when the place was computerised. The requirement was now that he book all his activities on a computerised timesheet, for which he had to have a computer of his own or a mobile phone. Gordon did not have a computer and didn’t have the most up-to-date phone; all he needed to do was to take phone calls, which he managed perfectly well with his old model.

This latest requirement gave him a lot of trouble. He managed to get around it by being allowed to use one of the computers in the office, which was not part of his domain, and he felt socially awkward in there. Not only was it a complicated, fiddly, and awkwardly buggy piece of software — it used to crash when you didn’t enter the operations in the correct order — but Gordon did not take easily to learning how to use a computer. Equally unfortunately, there was nobody in the facility who was skilled in training a technological newcomer, and he was getting shouted at plenty, so of course, he found himself shouting back.

It didn’t end well. He was given an ultimatum: shape up or ship out. He was close to retirement anyway, so he took that early retirement and shipped out before the facility had even begun to think about getting his replacement trained up. They were forced to rely completely on the agency staff who had been used on a temporary basis on the occasions when Gordon was on leave. While competent enough at general janitorial duties, such temporary staff were nowhere near familiar enough with the facility to know how to keep it running properly, and things started progressively breaking down and not getting properly repaired, and of course, it turned out that Gordon had contacts in the trade where he would call specific people to get various repairs done. Without Gordon’s happy smiling presence, coupled with the increasingly shabby and ill-maintained infrastructure, morale plummeted, and staff started to drift away. Hence, they started failing inspections, and in due course, the facility closed. I’m not sure what happened to the residents; I believe they were shunted off to other establishments.

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