I used to just be able to call our work caretakers to come and move furniture, transport boxes, arrange rooms and do all the manual labour that I'm quite capable of, but don't want to because it's manual labour and someone else can do it.
Then they stopped us from just ringing them up, because apparently it got a little confusing. We had to start sending them emails.
This is my first one:
Could you please deliver 2 boxes of handbooks from the [redacted] front office to SSS Rm 340 (the faculty office).
Ps. This email just isn’t the same …
Then I decided that it was time to get creative:
Hello Supermen and Superwomen of Campus Services,
There is a flickering fluoro tube in the [redacted]. Could someone replace it with their super strength and x-ray light-replacing vision, please?
I settled into that routine for a while, leaving out the fancy stuff, but attempting to woo them with flattering names:
Hello Campus Heroes,
Dear Kings and Queens of Flinders Hill,
Dear Mighty Flinders Rangers,
Dear Takers of Care,
O Mighty Knights of North Ridge,
And so on.
However, on a slightly slow day, I think I finally tipped over into playful insanity:
Hail, ye Shamans of Mount Flinders!
Verily, I have some large boxes full of bags, some signs and a printer which require spiriting away from the store room in the [redacted]. (Our guild down here is now called [redacted] for ye further information.) All items for removal have been marked ‘Move to Room 107’.
Although the filing cabinets have been marked for removal, yay, do not move them or great spirits shall be released! Plus they need to emptied and their contents archived.
May the Demons of Hrothgar smite thine enemies,
After that, suddenly cheerful, muscular men in blue overalls pushing sack-trucks were popping up and telling me how much they enjoyed my emails. I had been under the impression that the email went to one person, who would call the relevant muscular man with a trolley and tell him what to do.
They go to everyone involved in any kind of 'service' activity. Everyone.
I've got an audience now. The pressure's on. What next?
O yay o yay
This morn’ cracked a rainy day
With 16 boxes to carry away
Full o’ books for North 1, without delay,
On this finest, wettest, windiest firstling of May
Where the boxes are located,
In Chamber 110 they are situated,
And shan’t be saturated,
The students shall be placated
By their books o’erflooding with fresh knowledge and the promise of a drier day.
'How's the old English study coming along?' asks a muscular man in blue. 'I got a real kick out of that last one.'
It's a truism I just made up that most writers figure out, but never really master, that the more you fiddle with the font of what you're writing, the less you have to write. So I go:
Starship North Ridge - COME IN, Starship North Ridge! This is Galactic Hopper [redacted], Planet [redacted], Quadrant Level 1, requesting transfer of valuable academic cargo from Holding Bay Room 110 via Caretaker Hyperdrive to the distant reaches of North 1. There are 11 boxes of handbooks and all have received appropriate quarantine clearance. If North 1 is still occupied by the armies of Space Students, then they can be left in orbit in the foyer, same as yesterday.
Then, it happens. I need something urgently and I don't have time to come up with anything amusing. I can feel the collective disappointment before it even begins.
Recycling is full.
Level one needs a new bin.
Life begins anew.
And, just as quietly as the poem left the screen. So too did the bin in question. The feedback was minimal. I'm actually disappointed that I went with a whimper.
In my last email, I resolved to rectify this and salvage whatever reputation I might still have left as 'that weirdo who send the weird emails'
And they’re off and racing!
Printing is delivering 7 boxes of books past Room 110 before 3pm, The Caretakers of Camelot are coming up the inside to pick up the lead, dragging The Dodgy Handtruck in second place, Boxes of Books are looking for a swift finish as they come around the bend, North One is in sight, but The Caretakers of Camelot are looking strong, Foundation Studies students are milling about in the background, but a late run is all but impossible, as they close into the finish it’s Caretakers, North One, Boxes of Books neck and neck there’s nothing in it, Boxes of Books pushes, Caretakers stretches and its Caretakers! Caretakers has taken the Boxes of Books over North One and Dodgy Handtruck comes limping in followed by Foundation Studies Students and that rabbit thing they use for the doggies on Tuesday nights ….
Somehow, those campus heroes interpreted that and did whatever it was.
They're a top bunch over there. But I try to move a lot of my own books these days.
Nb. While everyone mostly knows where I work, I redacted the most identifying information, even if just to make the stalkers work a bit harder.