Swinging the LeadMay 5, 2005
The editor of this august e-zine telephones me in a state of some excitement from the city centre, where he had been handing out bars of soap to passing backpackers and some of the city?s scruffier motodop?s. .
”Playboy,” he cries. ”That terrorist chappie is hiding on the second floor of Pencil!”
Do not panic however, it turns out that the poor chap had just seen a sign for ‘Summer Bed Linen’ in the display. It has to be said that intelligence has never been a prerequisite for an editors job, and those years of him having vodka~korma shooters for breakfast have not helped much.
Assuring him that all was well, I returned to my current reading pile. Having recently received my quarterly backlog of post and papers from England (do not get me started on the Cambodian Postal Service) I was amused – for about 5 seconds – to read that a recent survey shows that the profession taking on average the most days off sick in a year are Social Workers.
Social Workers take an average 15 days a year off sick. The national average is 6.3 days per year, for those of you that attended State schools and are consequently innumerate; please trust me when I tell you that that is more than double the average rate for non-manual workers.
So just what is so stressful that social workers have to spend four weeks a year sitting on the couch watching Oprah or Jerry Springer and eating Pringles, while the rest of us are slaving away at the office?
Is hand-wringing stressful? Is booking juvenile delinquents on canoeing holidays stressful? Is standing up in court making pathetic excuses for some little scrote who has just mown down an innocent pedestrian in a stolen car stressful?
What amazed me most was that it was not teachers. I mean, they hardly work at all, anyway. Forget all those outrageous lies about marking books into the wee small hours. They spend more time struggling to read the big words in The Guardian and worrying about Third World debt than they ever do teaching your kids how to spell “inadequate? or to perform basic arithmetic.
As I said, the fact that it was social workers amused me for around five seconds, until I realised that this was exactly the same social set of people whom come over to Cambodia to work for NGO’s and to drive 4×4 Toyota Landcruisers to Lucky Supermarket.
Not content with taking the 26 days of Cambodian public holidays off each year, plus their 25 days paid holiday allowance, they, it would seem, all throw more sickies than any other class of worker.
Now, here in Phnom Penh, even the much maligned Teachers of a da English do not take that much holiday, however, this is probably due to the fact that here they do not get paid if they do not teach.
Whereas, of course, those international NGO-folk are running their offices in accordance with the general air of the nanny state – as to be found back at home on the mother ship. As much sick leave as is necessary, up to you old chap; contractual obligations for employees to wear crash helmets at all times; orientation and introduction courses for newly arrived employees and their family’s; a dedicated ‘native’ assigned by your office to assist you and your family during those difficult first few months (houseboy? Punkka Walla?)
Surely that sort of thing is why many of us chose to stop living in the West and head out here? The kind of idiot big brotherly love and nannying that is behind such things as; local councils cutting down horse chestnut trees to stop potential accidents being caused by children throwing sticks up into them for conkers, not too mention the banning of bouncy castles?
Personally I like the fact that if I crash my bike here without a helmet – that is my own fault. I can not sue anyone, or blame anyone, or go a weeping and a wailing to state provided councillor for trauma therapy (hellooooo, my name is Dr Weird Beard; it is not your fault, in fact, you are a victim here)
Actually, while we are on the subject of work and Dr Weird Beard.
Why do so many of these tree-hugging, sandal wearing, lentil polishers have Doctorates? Could it be that they have never had a real job in their lives? You know, one that contributes towards; productivity, society, or an economy.
Could it be that they all were students until they were in their 30s and then they suddenly realised that the gravy train was about to end; that they could only ever be teachers or ‘development workers’ thereafter ?
It is never even the case that their Doctorate is in anything useful, like; medicine, or astrophysics, or even welding and bricklaying. Oh no, it is always something like ‘Mass Media Communications’ from New Newtown, New University (formerly Scunthorpe Tech).
Honestly, it is enough to make a gecko laugh.
The views in this column are entirely those of Lord Playboy (of Phnom Penh, Sonteipheap and that muddy patch of ground next to the school;) they are in no way are representative of Khmer440, its editors or staff, of any Ministry of the Royal Government of Cambodia who employs Lord Playboy, nor those of you whom have ‘counselor’ on your business cards, of employees of SPARK nightclub who think that they can dance, of those ex-pats who think that Cambodians living in poverty is ‘quaint’, or that rude Yuon fucker Anneal. Damn, things will be different when I am running the Country.