Arrived at work this morning, 6.45am, ready for the start of a new set of 7 shifts; two early turn, two late turn and three night shifts. Just had a spectacular set of three days off (or rest days as they are formally known); however you don’t really get three days off do you ?? the first one is mainly sleep – getting over the previous three non-stop nights of chaos and calamity across whatever city, town or village you police.
Anyway, we woke the station hamster from his deep slumber, fed him some crunchy nibbles, put him on his wheel and waited for him to generate enough power to fire up the computer. Note how I say ‘computer’ in the singular – we actually have three in our office …. between a shift of six …. and our sergeant …. but two of them haven’t been working for weeks – the chap from the IT unit at headquarters is very helpful, and doesn’t at all mind the 30 mile trip each way to try and solve our daily technology crises (actually I rather think he welcomes the chance to escape), but the problem is he’s had to order parts.
As luck would have it, within one mile of Bigtown nick is the Spend-A-Fortune Retail Park. It’s not called that really, but it should be. Every time Mrs Chaos arrives home from there laden down with bags of new clothes and shoes, I always comment “You’ve been out to spend a fortune” …. On this fine retail park, as I’m sure is mirrored across this merry land is a PC World and a Maplin – both fine purveyors of all parts and pieces, computer orientated. We also have a selection of small independent computer shops dotted around town, so you would have thought getting the bits we needed would be a two second job. Well it is ……. in the real world !
Over here in police la-la-land however, a spare part involves paperwork ….. and more paperwork ….. and a requisition …. signed by the head of the IT department … back at headquarters …. who must then send it to the local Finance office to authorise …. who must then get a signature from the Superintendent …. who doesn’t work weekends …. who then sends it back to Finance …. who send it back to IT at headquarters ….. who then sit on it for a month and then order the part from our ‘approved’ supplier who won’t have it in stock .…. but have to order it (at three times the price Maplin charge) ….. who then have to wait for it to arrive, before sending to our IT department ….. who then send it to our station ….. who then have to ring IT to say it’s here so they can send someone out to fit it.
Thankfully, before Sweeney (the hamster) had completely worn himself out, the computer sprang (well fizzled) into life. This allowed each of us, in turn, to log onto our email accounts to see what delightful notices and commands had been cascaded down to us street level minions in the whole three days since we were last here. Or that was the plan.
Despite repeated attempts at starting the programme; much throwing of the communal mouse (the plastic thingy with a wire on connected to the computer don’t panic); several hot beverages and numerous attempts to bribe Sweeney into running just that little bit faster, we gave up. No chance; it just was not happening. The soggy bit of string connecting our lone working terminal to the behemoth of Headquarters network central was not playing the game.
It was time to do the only thing you can in such circumstances. Put Sweeney back in his cage, and drink more tea. It’s now 7.00am. There’s not a chance of anyone in the IT office being at their desk before the crack of approximately, round about, somewhere near 9.15am … ish
No technology means we can’t spend our valuable time inside the police station, reading emails, filling forms and doing the latest ‘Training by Powerpoint’ learning package. God help the great British public now, as there’s only one thing for it …….. we’re going to go outside the station and do some police work !!!!! I called up the Control Room on my radio to let them know we were off out to patrol the streets of Bigtown, do a bit of traffic enforcement, show that ‘visible presence’ our lords and masters keep telling us the public want and ensure our fine residents could get to work and school safely this morning.
And so we did ……
And the public were very friendly ……
Except those that we pulled over for driving round on their mobile phones; not wearing their seat belts; with no insurance or breaking the speed limits – in some cases by more than double, and in many cases doing more than one of the previous at the same time.
Come 9.15ish, feeling for all those poor, defenceless motorists we had been forced to terrorise, I rang the IT office from the radio set in the panda in the hope they would tell us all was okay and we could return to the safety of our warm, tea-urn equipped station. Someone answered straight away ….. which threw me a bit. After explaining our quandary the answer was concise “Yes, the system will be down all morning, upgrading the servers, didn’t you get the email ?”