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A Man of Few Words - by Swan Morrison


George Possum sat in the reception area of Tireless Taxis awaiting his interview for a post as driver. It had been a long day. His alarm clock had failed to go off, once again. He had then been trapped in his room for an hour when the interior handle had detached itself from the door. He had then had to settle for just stale, badly baked bread and beans for breakfast as his kitchen was, once more, devoid of power or water.

He waited two hours for the bus to take him to the offices of the cab company. He had finally resigned himself to walking when his bus had crashed after transporting him just two stops. In one respect this was fortunate as it had been travelling in the wrong direction, anyway. He had then walked for another two hours through the desolate wasteland that had once been his home city.

George was none too able following years of sub-standard education. Had he been better educated, however, he might have mused on the effects of anti-discriminatory legislation on the modern world. At first it had all seemed so noble. Employers had not been allowed to discriminate on grounds of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, age, marital status and disability.

Some argued that matters started to get out of hand when legislation had been passed to avoid discrimination on grounds of eye colour, length of inside leg, arrangement of planting in an applicant’s garden and numerous other considerations. This led to claims by unsuccessful applicants against prospective employers on the grounds of prejudice resulting from the fact that their second cousin twice removed played snooker on Saturday evenings, or that a girl with whom their brother had been at school had once purchased a bag of sugar in Tesco. The fact that potential employers were simply unaware of these facts was deemed to be no defence.

The ultimate difficulty for employers was presented by legislation which finally recognised the true nature of the victimisation which prevented most applicants from gaining employment. It became unlawful to discriminate on grounds of competence to do the job.

A torrent of litigation followed from those who could clearly prove that those who had been selected for a post ahead of them were better qualified and had greater aptitude. Human resource managers were forced to tighten their recruitment processes to ensue that only the most unsuitable and least qualified candidates were ever appointed.

And so it was that George, now three days late for his appointment, happened to be awaiting his interview at exactly the moment that the recruitment officer for Tireless Taxis was finally ejected bodily from the pub across the road, threw up in the gutter and dragged himself into his place of work for the first time in a month.

George was confident of the success of his application as a taxi driver. He was partially sighted and, although never having driven a car, he had just been released from prison for murdering several people who had - those unpredictable rages just seemed to come over him.

‘I’ve come for the driver’s job,’ he said to the figure vomiting onto the carpet in front of him.

Lee Prenderville glanced up at him. ‘D’you want the f**kin’ job then?’

George thought for a moment. ‘Don’t give a toss, really.’

Lee dragged himself to his feet and stretched out his hand towards George. ‘Welcome to the firm.’ Lee paused and looked thoughtfully towards the Rose and Crown. ‘D’you fancy a few drinks before you collect your first fare?’