What is a jobsworth?

Google says:

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I am sure all of us have dealt with jobsworths at some time or another. For example the parking attendant who insists on giving you a ticket for parking too long, even though a truck has parked you in and you absolutely cannot get out of your parking spot, even though you are in your car and trying as hard as you can!

I have two examples of jobsworths I have had to deal with in Sweden.

  1. About ten years ago my cousin in South Africa sent us all (including the two cats) Christmas presents in one big parcel. She put all our names on the parcel, even the cats – for fun, and to show that they had thought of all of us. The Swedish post office required us ALL to show ID (not just one of us, ALL of us) to collect the parcel. BUT, because neither of the cats had ID cards, the postal official would not give us the parcel. It had to wait a month at the local post office, be sent from Sweden back to South Africa (which took another month) and then be resent from South Africa back to us in Sweden, addressed to me only.
  2. The photo below was taken last week. Stockholm had more snow fall in 24 hours than in 111 years. None of the buses and very few of the cars had snow tyres on yet so they were skidding all over the place. The ploughs could not plough the streets because they could not get past all the vehicles that were stuck. For four days there were no buses in my area and the trams could not run more than once per hour because their tracks run in the roads. The photo below shows ticket inspectors from the public transport company. There were no buses to check so they were checking the tickets of people waiting for buses that were not coming. One-trip tickets last 75 minutes, so you have 75 minutes to complete your journey. When the tram finally came they got on the tram and had the cheek to fine people who had been stuck on the tram in traffic for over two hours. You would think they would wait until they could actually offer the service people pay for before fining them!

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In both of these cases, you would think the official could view the situation individually and see that it was an extraordinary situation. But, sadly, you get jobsworths everywhere.

Interestingly, of all the countries I have been in, Sweden is the one that is the most ardent about doing things exactly by the book, to a t, right down the line – you name it. It is really nice most of the time because you know things are done the right way and that nobody gets preferential treatment. But sometimes you think it would be a little humane to make a tiny exception in exceptional circumstances.

The South African singer, Jeremy Taylor, has a song for it .



Categories: Vocabulary

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