A problem we can solve

Over at City Metric, John Elledge is telling London commuters to stop worrying and learn to love today’s tube strike and the unions involved in it. Whilst he correctly notes that it’s not just the drivers who have withdrawn their labour, he has this paean to why what is a mostly dull (but occasionally very awful) job is worth the money:

It’s also a reward for the fact that it’s a pretty miserable job. Not as miserable as being a soldier, admittedly – but certainly more miserable than being, say, a newspaper columnist.

Think about what driving a tube train actually involves. It’s shift work, so sometimes you’ll start at 5am and others you’re working til gone midnight. Whatever time you start, you’ll be spending approximately eight hours in a small box on your own, doing a series of mind numbingly repetitive tasks, but unable to lose concentration for even a moment.

In that time, you can’t read a newspaper. You can’t waste 20 minutes chatting with a colleague. You certainly can’t tweet about how bored you are. On certain lines, you’ll barely see daylight. And there’s a not insignificant chance that, one day, someone will jump in front of your train, and you’ll have to live with the guilt.

Lord knows there are some terrible jobs out there that don’t come with £50k pay packets, but… I’m kind of okay with paying people well to do that job. A lot of the people who’ll be spending today whining, “Well I don’t earn that much” also don’t have jobs that are quite that shitty.

Dull? Boring? Repetitive? Best Transport for London gets on with automating the entire network then and frees up the drivers to do something more enjoyable.


  1. john77 says:

    Eight hours in a box without a loo break?
    Possible, but not plausible. Especially as they get out of the cab at the terminus.
    As for it being dull, boring and repetitive: automate Victoria line but where some of the older lines aren’t suitable to be automated hire high-/medium-level autistic people who have a high boredom threshold, like predictable repetitive jobs and are currently dumped on the waste-heap by self-important HR departments who have no interest in matching aptitudes outside their tunnel vision(ain’t I wonderful) to needs of jobs. Less likely to kill people when high on marijuana, less likely to strike for more pay than they can think of how to spend, more likely to suss out the solution to problems with computer systems (umpteen % of silicon valley are autistic) and thereby save lives/cut waiting times when the system should/should not have shut down.

  2. zoid says:

    Surely it would be best were the wonders of automation to be applied to relieve them of their tiresome and tedious jobs.

    Or perhaps they could just keep turning up and stay shtumm, keep doing the mind numbing work and keep picking up the 50 grand.

    Their choice.