Thursday, 16 September 2021

Cnut Songs #7: The Very Definition Of Futility

On Wednesday afternoon, for half an hour, I live the full King Cnut dream. There is no more perfect illustration of shouting at the sea than this. For Wednesday afternoon is my turn at Connect Duty. All managers (even lowly ones like myself) take their turn throughout the week... except the oily ones, who merely palm the task off on a lackey.

Connect Duty normally involves standing inside the security barriers at reception and making sure incoming students have an ID badge. If they don't, we send them to the desk to get a temporary pass. And we try our very best to stop the ones who buzz their badgeless friends in, or tailgate through the gates behind someone else.

This year though, Connect Duty has taken on an extra degree of responsibility. And herein lies the futility. Your mission, should you choose to accept it (and really, you don't have any choice) is to ensure that all incoming students have, and are wearing, a face-mask. (Except those with exemptions.) 

And so you stand there with a little plastic basket of face masks, waving it at any student who enters without a mask. (You won't be surprised to hear, that's most of them.)

"Facemask, guys?"

"Do you need a mask?"

"Oh, you've got one - can you pop it on, please?"

I've written before about how I'm still supportive of facemasks and still wearing them myself whenever necessary, even though I'm often in the minority. But the futility here doesn't come from the often-belligerent responses I get to my entreaty...

"I'm not wearing a chuffing mask!" (My personal favourite. There's no sentence that can't be improved by a well-placed "chuffing".)

No, the futility comes as I'm doing my best to get all incoming students to wear a mask... while behind me, a hoard of outgoing students exit the college, not one of them wearing a mask. 

Whatever our best intentions, I think that boat has sailed.

The futile, the futile, it outweighs the beautiful...

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