back to article Mailshot meltdown as Wessex Water gets sweary about a poor chap called Tom

It's one thing to suspect your work colleagues think you're a bit of an idiot. It is quite another to have it printed and posted to your employer's customers, as an unfortunate chap by the name of Tom Wysocki found. The letter, sent by Brit utilities firm Wessex Water, warned customers about work taking place in their area …

  1. israel_hands

    M Khan is bent.

    1. defiler Silver badge

      That's one for those of us of a certain age... Upvoted.

      1. jake Silver badge

        G. Davis is Innocent OK

    2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Lovely...

      Milky milky...

    3. mrtheduke

      Exactly what I thought of when I read this. I'm surprised he ever got a job :)

  2. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

    Acronym?

    Terrific Works Arrangement Technician?

    1. A. Coatsworth
      Coat

      Re: Acronym?

      It is an acronym, all right:

      Tom Wysocki is A T.W.A.T.[1]

      [1]Tom Wysocki is A T.W.A.T.[1]

      [1][1]Tom Wysocki is A T.W.A.T.[1]

      [1][1][1]Tom Wysocki is A T.W.A.T.[1]]

      ...

      ...

      Where the hell is my exit clause?

      (with apologies to mr. Wysocki. I'm sure he's an good bloke)

  3. paulf Silver badge
    Flame

    Rostering is a poisoned challice, strong constitution and thick skin required

    FTA: "Sadly, the statement contained no reference to the unfortunate Wysocki, who we understand runs the roster for scheduling water works at the company."

    If my experience of railways is anything to go by, the poor sod writing the staffing roster is generally disliked by most people (the best one can hope for is mild indifference). That said I'm yet to see a steam loco with a headboard proclaiming "paulf is a twat" but, with the next roster still being written and the grumbling already in full swing, who knows what this weekend will bring?

    Icon -> What the coal shoveller wants to see in the firebox :)

    1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      Re: Rostering is a poisoned challice, strong constitution and thick skin required

      "the poor sod writing the staffing roster is generally disliked by most people (the best one can hope for is mild indifference)."

      When I got fed up with the shitty roster that was being produced for the service desk, my manager eventually said "do it your bloody self then" as the HR person took about a week each time to produce it, and was not receptive to our suggestions.

      There where four shift times, 7-3, 9-5, 10-6 and 2-10. The HR schedule had us doing a fortnight of earlies, then a fortnight of lates, and there where often times when you didn't get two days off in a row (we did skeleton weekend shifts).

      It took me a couple of days between calls to create a simple method whereby everyone got a 2 day break each week, and you where on either early or late shifts for 6 weeks at a time, with 2 weeks of normal shifts between them. It was also very easy to find your opposite number, so if you wanted you could swap shifts, so you'd just be doing earlies or lates in your 6 week periods.

      New schedule was *very* popular with the rest of the desk, as it meant that people could actually plan regular activities in. For whatever reason, we weren't allowed to have only late or early shifts, dspite that being what most people would have liked. My system allowed you to do that for 3/4 of the time, as long as you could find an opposite number.

      We where not allowed to use my scheduling system. Apparently doing a weeks worth of HR "work" in a few hours meant that I clearly hadn't understood the full ramifications, and thus not acceptable. Back to finishing work at 10pm on a Sunday and starting at 7am on Tuesday.

      Years after I left, I ran into my old boss. Turns out that HR did end up using my system, only after the union got involved over the lack of weekends.

      1. paulf Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Rostering is a poisoned challice, strong constitution and thick skin required

        Your situation is a bit different to mine (volunteers working weekends, with non-consistent availability and no obligation to work) but it still amounts to the same problem of keeping people happy (this is a lot harder when you aren't paying them). Doing the roster within the team is a good solution as it means it's being sorted by someone who knows the challenges of the job and what the consequences of a bad roster will be.

        I do operations rostering and have worked in that dept for years, so I'm not some random admin far removed from the actual work. It means I have a reasonably good idea of what each job involves, the training required, who's qualified for what and as I know everyone I have a good idea of who likes to do what, and who will do what if they have to; it also means I get any complaints first hand! It was a steep learning curve but I soon found the best ways to minimise the moaning, bearing in mind some moan as a hobby. It's not as bad as my first post alluded to in the general case - most people are generally happy with how things are done (and I go out of my way to keep it so), but the one or two that moan seem to shout as loud as possible even when they get a decent set of turns.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Rostering is a poisoned challice, strong constitution and thick skin required

        Nicely written story other than the use of 'where' to mean 'were' no less than three times.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: Rostering is a poisoned challice, strong constitution and thick skin required

          no less than three times

          "fewer" (sorry)

          M.

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: Rostering is a poisoned challice, strong constitution and thick skin required

            "No less than" is an idiomatic phrase, and is used frequently to mean 'no fewer than'. Even when strictly speaking it is not syntactically correct to use 'less' when referring to a countable noun, the idiom implies conversion of the subject into a mass noun. For example, 'no less than 100 people' implies a mass of at least 100 people. When used with smaller numbers, the idiomatic nature of the phrase is used to imply that the subject, where normally countable, is an excessive number and therefore treated as an uncountable noun.

            1. Mike 16 Silver badge

              Strictly speaking (Re: Rostering ...)

              Well Actually... The Less/fewer thing is one of those "Zombie Rules" that tend to be trotted out by a certain sort of self-taught grammarian (OK, including myself, in younger days), while irritating folks who actually study grammar.

              TL;DR

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fewer_vs._less

              Or follow some of the references, in particular

              http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003775.html

              Meanwhile, what the heck rostering have to do with a Nun's clothing?

              http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001812.html

              You can perhaps tell that Language Log is one of my favorite ways to avoid Getting Stuff Done (along with ElReg)

              1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                Re: Strictly speaking (Rostering ...)

                Well Actually... The Less/fewer thing is one of those "Zombie Rules"

                I don't like the idea of "zombie rules" because it implies that if things (it doesn't have to be language) fall out of usage, or become less popular in favour of other things, "might is right" and fuddy-duddy-stick-in-the-muds are always wrong.

                But (oh, there's me starting a sentence with a conjunction) aren't the rules we fuddy-duddies worry about simply Victorian pedantry, when English has historically been a much more fluid language? Didn't Shakespere spell his name a dozen different ways?

                The less/fewer debate can get silly, particularly when the debate is between UK English and US English (I note that your references are all US-based), and particularly when bad examples are given as "proof".

                As the 003775 reference points out (no, I haven't read it all!), "5 items or less" and "5 years old or less" are not really terribly good examples because to most people they are just shorthand. I would argue that the former would actually be better as "fewer", but that the latter is just wrong, whichever word you use. "5 years old or younger" is just one way that problem could be solved.

                Later on, that reference states that the common rule for less/fewer works in most cases, but as with everything English there are exceptions. Who could disagree with that?

                M.

                1. Santa from Exeter

                  Re: Strictly speaking (Rostering ...) @ Martin an gof

                  Billy Wigglestick spelling his name a variety of ways proves nothing about grammar. He was doing this in the age before Sam Johnson's dictionary regularised spelling (actually in Georgian times, not Victorian)

                  1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                    Re: Strictly speaking (Rostering ...) @ Martin an gof

                    Billy Wigglestick...

                    Or, Bill Waggadagger as a good friend at school used to call him

                    Sam Johnson's dictionary regularised spelling

                    As famously parodied by Ink and Incapability

                    That's sort of the point I was making. It was around that time that things began to be regularised, and it was the Victorians who really industrialised it - literally. That doesn't mean that they were wrong, any more than it means that "pure" English is the English of the Georgians.

                    Saying this-rule or that-rule is wrong, simply because it wasn't codified until 200 years ago and that before that every hamlet had its own way of doing things is itself simplistic. English is convoluted enough as it is, but at least the "rules", such as they are, do help it make some kind of sense.

                    If you are going to dismiss Victorian invention, how about doing away with tartan and Scottish clans, or Welsh bardic tradition? (Speaking as someone who has just returned from this year's Urdd eisteddfod (the youth version). As even more of a tangent (sorry, I digress), I've just discovered the BFI film archive. They have some Urdd-related films.

                    M.

            2. Martin an gof Silver badge

              Re: Rostering is a poisoned challice, strong constitution and thick skin required

              "No less than" is an idiomatic phrase...

              I'm not always that pedantic (hence the "sorry"), but I can't agree with your logic here. If the comment I'd been replying to had said something like "no less than a million times" as a form of exaggeration for effect, or if there had been many mistakes and the comment had said "there were no less than three and probably many more, but I didn't finish reading", I might agree, but the mistakes were definite, were few in number, and were absolutely quantifiable.

              It just sounds wrong. Or at the least, inelegant.

              Just because something has passed into common usage, doesn't mean either that it is therefore right, or that it will continue in common usage. Two things I've heard quite a lot over the last couple of years, but which I think I am now hearing less frequently are:

              I could care less

              meaning "I could not care less; I am not at all interested in your petty problems", and

              The proof is in the pudding

              when the phrase (as I'm sure you know) should be "The proof of the pudding is in the eating. It's not even an appropriately shortened version. "I think England will do well in the World cup, but the proof is in the pudding." Huh?

              :-)

              M.

              1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
                Flame

                Re: Rostering is a poisoned challice, strong constitution and thick skin required

                The proof is in the pudding

                I always took that to be referring to alcohol (proof being the strength) - basically saying "I don't know how good this brandy is, but it's in the pudding and we'll find out what it tastes like when we eat it", but in a far more succinct way.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Rostering is a poisoned challice, strong constitution and thick skin required

          Nicely written story other than the use of 'where' to mean 'were' no less than three times.

          The OP was writing unpaid, to contribute to the debate, and referring to work he actually did. If you want to pick holes, how about you volunteer to act as unpaid, on-call proof reader? I'd be delighted for somebody else to correct my errors, and call out the occasional inappropriate language.

        3. MonkeyCee Silver badge

          Re: Rostering is a poisoned challice, strong constitution and thick skin required

          No need to go AC, I'm not moody about being corrected :)

          I posted some advice on the use of the grocer's apostrophe a few weeks back, so invited the attention.

          Since I'm dyslexic I'm always glad to have someone check my writing, as I make the same mistakes proofing as writing it. Although I've been bolloxing up where/were since forever, I still miss it.

          @paulf - your situation sounds like one that can only really be done by the team themselves. From personal experience charity/volunteer work is absurdly politicised, with some people seeming to want to make as much hassle as possible. Perhaps because they've been fired from actual jobs when they've been that difficult.

          I've also had managers who handled scheduling very well (for an after hours team) by making sure we where very clear about what was expected from the team, and as long as we met those criteria letting us sort our own rosters out.

          In return we went the extra mile so he looked good to the rest of manglement, although he always answered my midnight phone calls with a deep sigh, since I'd only call if something was bolloxed enough that there would be a spot of blamestorming the next morning, and I wanted him to have his ducks in a row.

          Since we worked through Friday work drinks where provided, he also made sure we got a bottle (wine or coke) or a six pack saved for each of us.

          While I was sorry to see him go, and I've moved on years ago, he's now the COO. Nice to see competence promoted for once :)

      3. Dr Dan Holdsworth

        Re: Rostering is a poisoned challice, strong constitution and thick skin required

        Thus you see why all experienced engineers take some time to think about any new problem. Being experienced, they are also extremely good at multi-tasking, which is why the thinking time takes place down the pub...

      4. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Rostering is a poisoned challice, strong constitution and thick skin required

        "Turns out that HR did end up using my system, only after the union got involved over the lack of weekends."

        They should have gotten involved about the rotating shifts. It's been known for decades that they're extremely unhealthy and that the _minimum_ period in any one shift should be 6 weeks to allow people to get used to the sleep pattern changes.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Rostering is a poisoned challice, strong constitution and thick skin required

      The "best" way I've seen it done is once a year, a survey of "which shift would you prefer?" and then priority on some benchmark like "time of employment" where senior people get their pick first except for manglement duties and those with specialized skill sets/job duties that required a fixed schedule.. Those types usually rotated schedules among themselves. Generally, very few problems as almost everyone got what they wanted or could live with.

  4. adam payne Silver badge

    Never a good idea to start writing a email to a work colleague complaining about someone while doing a mail merge. Something's meant to be in one sometimes end up in the other by mistake.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's not what happened. The original writer walked away from his laptop and didn't lock the screen. A different employee then wrote the sentence and original chap didn't check his screen when he came back.

      Probably done as a joke, WW staff tend to be heavy on the swears and banter to each other.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cherry, cake

    It's the way it's immediately followed by "Anything else you need to know?" that really puts the cherry on the cake.

  6. SVV Silver badge

    Pour chap

    I hope his lack of elaboration can be taken to mean "I have just contacted my solicitors with a massive grin on my face, to instruct them to negotiate a pleasingly large out of court settlement for defamation of character"

    1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Pour chap

      Perhaps he asked instead for someone to pour him a few down at the pub.

  7. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Do they have a sysadmin named Simon?

    Just curious

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      BOFH

      Actually, they do have a sysadmin named Simon......

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very similar to an email my partner received from her daughters school.. This was part of an internal email that got forwarded by mistake.. Anon and names redacted as we as currently making an official complaint! We have also made Mrs W aware and she has gone nuts with the school :D

    "From: M****, R******

    Sent: Sunday, May 13, 2018 10:31 PM

    To: Strategic Team

    Subject: FW: D******

    For your information. I'm seeing D******'s mum at 9.30 on Thursday. I get all the best jobs! 'rear ends into gear and by God it's all noted!' That's right up there with the sort of email Mrs W********* would send. The problem is I taught this one's mum... I'm not sure what we taught her though - not good manners and audience and purpose, that's for sure."

    ________________________________________

  9. Daedalus Silver badge

    Cometh the bozocalypse

    A classic example of total automation taking over and humans failing to do their diligence. You can push a button and publish a letter without thinking, so naturally people do just that. Proofreading? What's that?

    If humans were more diligent about proofreading, my job reading the fine manuals and specs would be less headache-inducive. And that's the ones written by native English speakers.

    Too much technology, too few technologists.

    1. Message From A Self-Destructing Turnip

      Re: Cometh the bozocalypse

      I am guessing the technologist involved knew exactly what they were doing. I would hazard that the technologist tasked with preparing the letter's, had only just finished stacking them in the mail out tray, when Mr Wysoki decided that the timing of the scheduled work had to be changed. Perhaps not for the first time?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Cometh the bozocalypse

        Tasked with preparing the letter's ... what? Inquiring minds & all that.

  10. BigSLitlleP Silver badge

    I used to work with Tom.....

    He wasn't that bad! He even made me a cup of tea......once

    1. Borg.King

      He's a Top Worker At Tea?

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. MortimerTheCat
    Facepalm

    Speaking as an IT manager at a printing company that prints thousands of this type of letter each day, I have to instill an element of professionalism into my staff in that they do not make jokes on their computers no matter how funny it is. This is a perfect example. The intention may have been not to save it, or be sure that the joke would be spotted. But it happens. Poor Wessex water, thanks to a moment of unprofessionalism from a member of staff have now appeared on these pages.

  13. DownUndaRob

    and for Bill Posters

    But poor Bill Posters, what did he ever do to have signs off him being prosecuted posted all over town??

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: and for Bill Posters

      Or indeed in a battlefield situation , being told to fire at Will!

      http://dilbert.com/strip/1990-03-01

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