You may remember that last week I was introduced to First Great Western's fascinating "Conditions of Carriage", a document which suggests that, for the payment of a certain sum of money, the company has no responsibility to take you anywhere, at any time, unless it feels like it.
Reading on, however, I found a paragraph saying that if the standard class carriage is full, you can ask the train manager if you can sit in the first class carriage. This sounded promising, I had visions of travelling to work in a much more civilised fashion in the future and looked forward to putting this new knowledge into action.
This morning, my route to work was different, as I stayed overnight with a friend in Reading, so went direct to Reading station. As is well known by the commuting population of Reading, all fast trains to London are full in the mornings, so you have to stand. "A-ha!" thought I, and approached the train manager to ask if it was true that I could ask to sit in the first class carriage when standard class was full.
"You can ask" he said, "but the answer should always be no, because you pay for the carriage, and not for a seat".
Righty ho, so the Conditions of Carriage allow me to ask the question, but it will almost always be answered with a no. So the document might as well say: "If the train is full, you can ask to fly to the moon", or "If the train is full, you can ask to be carried to your destination on the back of a giant golden pigeon".
Also, did you know that if the train is so full that you end up standing in the first class carriage, you can be fined for not having the correct ticket? Luckily, no train manager has ever been brave enough to try and enforce this rule.
I might write myself a new contract at work along the following lines, following FGW's example:
"I might turn up to work, but I might not, and I still want to be paid a lot of money. If I don't fulfil any of my duties, there's nothing you can do about it. You can ask me to do various tasks, but if you do, I'll probably say no. Please can I have the contract to do this job across the country and make vast sums of cash? Thanks"