Are We As Important As We Think!

Like many employers we have mechanics and breakdown staff who have wives and sleeping partners in over-paid Public Sector jobs (for how much longer is anyone’s guess but I suspect forever) and these often provide problems where staff rostering is concerned. Once upon a time “our man” was the main bread winner and everyone fitted around him and he certainly would not turn down the opportunity for an odd £75/£100 to cover the roster. But not now I am afraid. Baby sitting takes pride of place while “her indoors” goes out to work. It’s not about shared parenting, more about who makes the easy money.

This prompted me to take a look to see how valuable and essential we as Breakdown Operators are to the community and what I have quickly discovered goes a long way to account for our mistreatment and low rate of remuneration.

In order to establish one’s value and worth to society the first thing to do is imagine them not there; on strike or whatever: and the first thing you realise is that there are very few people that cannot be done without, firstly in the short-term but more importantly long-term. In other words when people have adjusted. These in my book would include a large portion of the Public Sector. Who cares when the Job Centres and the social workers are not present? Then there are the services that only affect a small percentage of the population.

School teachers, for example, would not be missed for a week or two, even a month or two if it wasn’t for their child minding roles each day while the parents went to work: but are vital to the future fabric of our society, so must be well up the list of long-term necessity.

I have not spent my entire life thinking about this but if somebody did they would not only find out who is important, but where do we as Breakdown/Recovery Operators sit? Not very well I am afraid. Most of our work now would not be present if it was not for the reluctance of the average motorist (the Nanny State created ineptness). To get involved when it comes to mechanical matters, how many cars have been towed away from a road accident (sorry, collision) with little more than a broken headlight and the owner equipped with a loan car till the claim is sorted never mind the repair. Whatever happened to driving back home? That would soon change if they had to walk or use the bus (another vital service).

Many of our jobs are things like wheel changes and flat batteries, failed bulbs, exhausts dropping down and needing tying up with a coat hanger. All things that 30 years ago people would have done themselves. People used always to tow one another home and would no doubt do so again if we disappeared. There are cars with no spare wheel and other such things which would cause a few more stranded motorists than normal. But, and this is the real point, after a while people would adapt and no doubt garages would recover their own customers (like they used to do) further consigning us to the bin. I further suspect that if the clubs charged more to pay us more the motorist wouldn’t pay and instead they would just manage themselves, anyway.

The only time we recovery operators do provide an invaluable service is when vehicles collide in the middle of busy crossroads or motorways and roads become blocked by various collisions (isn’t it ironic that for these jobs the rate is better).

So who is valuable to our society? Certainly not us I am afraid. Yes! It’s that company again, Tesco and all the other super markets and food supply people. Even the poor British farmer cannot be put very high up the “vital” list now that so much food is imported. The lorries that deliver these supplies to the food-supplying giants and the tankers that deliver to the filling stations are vital and on a slightly encouraging note there is hope for the breakdown and recovery people who service and look after these delivery trucks.

Another vital commodity are the fuel and energy suppliers; we cannot cook an egg if we cannot boil the water. But with gas coming underground and electricity through a wire, that doesn’t help us either. So, the reason we are valued so little and paid such a small amount is because we have no great importance (with a few exemptions). Perhaps this is the problem with society: too many people have an over-inflated opinion of their own importance in the chain of life. – Suddenly, why do these rule-making quangoes come to mind???

Fred Henderson,

Breakdown Doctor.