There’s a Jumbo Jet

I work in care support for people with learning disabilities in the UK. This is an analogy…


We are too few

There’s a jumbo jet. We’ve got to go to America and back, but it’s a low cost affair. 80s business methods have decided that to save money we will only have 2 staff. I mean those staff think that’s a bit unfair but, you know, we want to do our best and we need our jobs so we’ll give it a go. Can’t help thinking that it’s perhaps a bit unsafe but the management know what they’re doing don’t they?

We are too few

So, one of us will have to pilot the plane and the other will have to do all the other stuff, like check tickets, get everyone on board, serve the drinks and the food, read out the safety message and don’t forget to shut the doors!

We are too few

Off we go. It’s a bit more work than even we expected. The pilot sees that I’m struggling a bit cause one or two passengers are making a bit of noise about gin and tonics not appearing. So she puts it on auto-pilot and gives me a hand. In fact, the pilot then gets a bit bogged down and it turns out it’s me who gets to do the bumpy landing at the other end. Even though some people never got their dinner at least nobody died.

We are too few

Get a bit of a rest at the other end and am sort of thinking I’d have loved to have done a bit more for the passengers who after all have paid for their tickets. Still I can only do what I can. Few more staff would make a big difference, I’m sure but “onwards and upwards!”

We are too few

Journey back’s even worse. We’re hardly coping at all. It’s a case of going from urgent demand to urgent demand. There’s a lot of bad weather and heavy traffic at landing but the pilot can’t really endanger the passengers by leaving the controls so I’ll just have to do my best. Can’t help thinking to myself that we are too few.

We are too few

Nothing really bad happens but there’s a lot of unhappy faces disembarking. Feeling guilty I tell a couple of them that I’m sorry and that we are too few. Not impressed.

We are too few

Too few? Or maybe I could work some unpaid hours and do a bit of pre-flight preparation? Make some meals and drinks at home. Go in on my day off to get the plane cleaned? The airline sort of hinted at that in my last assessment. Although their policy documentation says we’re not supposed to for safety reasons. I’ll have to try to re-organise or work without a lunch break. We don’t want the plane to go down.

We are too few

Management say there’s been passenger complaints. Also, they’re careful not to imply that it’s our fault but some newspapers and websites have been howling for the pilot’s blood. Something needs to be done. They’ve arranged for the pilot and myself to have a meeting with a team of expert advisers. When I told management that I believe that we are too few they didn’t really reply.

We are too few

The consultants give us lots of suggestions. They say that we really need to deliver the gin and tonics faster and that passengers should never go without a meal and that safety of passengers must be foremost in our thinking and that we could spend a bit of time chatting to every passenger to make them feel welcome and it’s very important that the plane is kept clean and tidy and that we never lose our cool and that it’s illegal for passengers to be thirsty and that if we see someone who looks even slightly ill it’s our duty to check their pulse and temperature and that passengers like to know how much longer the journey will be and that the plane must always leave on time and we should take landing an aircraft extremely seriously and not to forget to smile. I did mention that I kind of know all this stuff and that the problem is that we are too few and they were very sympathetic. They stressed that they don’t ever want the plane to go down.

We are too few

Management have said that they need to save a bit more money to give to shareholders and so the pilot will need to be made redundant. They say they understand that this makes my job a bit more difficult but that I will have to do my best under the circumstances bearing in mind that none of us want the plane to fucking go down.




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