The editor engages in a post-Christmas rant
I heartily detest Christmas. If you love Christmas, then - as my father is wont to say - bully for you. After all, we've no choice but to put up with the whole tedious rigmarole every bloody year, so I've no doubt that life is a lot easier for people who can throw themselves into the whole thing with gusto. However, the fact that other people - albeit the majority of other people - love (or profess to love) Christmas does not make Christmas-ophilia mandatory. I don't criticise other people for loving it, and I'd appreciate it if those same people could desist from regarding me as some kind of vile, leprous pariah just because my opinions of the whole shebang differ from theirs. I am no more compelled to love Christmas than I am to love hot weather. Quite why certain people insist on taking my dislike of their own preferences so personally, I know not. I don't expect everybody else to enjoy the things that I do, so I'm hardly likely to take offence when it transpires that they don't. I don't grab people by the sleeve and insist that they've got to love Al Stewart's music, so why do people think that it's acceptable for them to tell me that I've got to love Christmas and/or temperatures in the high eighties? Why on earth do they care whether I love these things or not?
Anyway, I would gladly work on Christmas Day, were it not for the insuperable barrier of the fact that the the office is closed. (I have actually worked in pubs on Christmas Day in my youth, but my pint-pulling days are long gone.) I had even considered working at home this year on Christmas Day, but that cunning plan was foiled by our IT providers' decision that the Christmas break would be the ideal time for them to close the system down and tinker with its innards. So the laborious process of firing up the steam-driven remote access function on the laptop from the comfort of my own home would have been singularly pointless.
Nevertheless, I have no desire whatsoever to drag the whole thing out any longer than is strictly necessary, so am always the first to volunteer to step up to the plate and take myself into the office in the distinctly dead days between Christmas and New Year. To which end, I wrapped up warmly on Wednesday morning and picked my way rather carefully along the frosty pavements to the bus stop. Where I proceeded to wait for fifty minutes in sub-zero temperatures for a bus. The morose driver of said bus, when questioned, declared repeatedly that it was a "Sunday service". To add insult to injury, he threatened to halt the journey after the first five minutes when his ticket printing machine suddenly refused to print any more tickets.
Anyone who knows me will be quailing at the prospect of the sort of mood I was in by the time I eventually stomped into the office at the crack of a quarter to eleven. The first thing I did was to pull up the bus timetables online. At which point it quickly became clear that
- the company were not running a Sunday service, as no buses run on that route at all on a Sunday;
- they were running a Saturday service (which means one bus every 30 minutes rather than the usual 20 minutes); and
- they weren't even doing that properly because they had completely missed out one of the buses.
Now, I have been travelling to work by that bus route for more than eleven years. And for at least nine of those years, I have worked between Chrismas and New Year. And, as those are standard working days, the buses have always run to the standard Mon - Fri timetable in past years. (Except that they have always stopped running at about 4 pm on New Year's Eve, for reasons which I have never fully understood.)
Not being able to face another journey like that of Wednesday morning, I have taken today as an annual leave day. Fortunately, I have enough of my year's leave allowance remaining to me to do that. But I bitterly resent being forced into doing so. My leave allowance, although generous, is not infinite. Given the choice, I would far rather take a week off in January than artificially extend Christmas to the beginning of January.
My suspicions are that the modern fad for taking at least ten days off at Christmas has become so prevalent that the bus company no longer considers it to be economically viable to run a proper service between the 28th and the 31st of December. But these days are not bank holidays, and neither should they be. So where does that leave those of us who would actually prefer to be in work, but who don't drive? And why were those same buses not furnished with leaflets in the week leading up to Christmas warning their regular passengers that there would only be a Saturday service the following week?
(Yes, I'm aware that I should be taking this up with the bus company. But I'm also aware that I'd be well-advised to delay doing so until such time as I am slightly less enraged about the whole scenario.)