Three Irishmen Walk Into A Job . . .

Written February 2009

There was a tradesman supposed to turn up to give one of my colleagues a hand yesterday, but by three in the afternoon there was still less sign of him than there is of spaghetti sauce on the Turin Shroud.

‘He didn't phone?’ asked Mother Hen, our no-nonsense customer care rep. ‘No excuses? Nothing at all to stop you wondering whether or not he was going to stay true to his word and pull up as promised in his Hiace with his arse sticking out the back of his jeans, as per the Tradesman's Code?’

‘Tradesman's Code, my bollocks,’ says my let-down colleague. ‘When I eventually tracked him down, he claimed his phone was on the blink and anyway he'd lost my number and then a ceiling fell on him’

‘C'mere,’ said Mother Hen, as she is from Cork. ‘That's a bit Irish, isn't it?’

From the options below, please choose the most likely explanation for Mother Hen's application of nationality as a valid indication of attitude towards hard work and thoughtful timekeeping.

(a) Irishmen are really crap at putting up ceilings.

(b) The hauling of a reference to his bollocks into any conversation in the workplace is something only an Irish employee would chance.

(c) Irish people are quite happy to dance precarious steps through life - not turning up when they should, not giving excuses when they should, not caring about the daily timetables of others when they should - if there's a smidgen of a chance they might get away with it. Irish people are cheeky fuckers who hope that having a twinkle in their eye will allow them to be as lazy and feckless as they please. Irish people invented the term ‘Cute Hoor’ and by Jaysus there's no point wasting a good turn of phrase; therefore, it's a matter of national obligation to play the cute hoor as often as you possibly can; other Irish people will indulge you in your efforts! Irish people are starting to notice that the laziness, rudeness and alcoholism once attributed to every other nationality that dared get off a Ryanair plane in Dublin Airport is actually most likely to be found in ourselves. Irish people are rogues, chancers and villains who'd rule the world if only they weren't so weighed down by their mammies' cooking and their inexplicable hatred of teamwork.

We were looking for subbies for our company in the not-so-distant past. One applicant, who got the boss's vote of confidence and therefore the gig, was keen to point out that he was Irish when he first answered our advertisement.

‘I have a funny last name,’ he said. ‘But I'm as Irish as tracksuited drug dealer on the Costa Del Sol. My integrity's so long and voluminous that I have to sweep it out of the way when I go to the toilet.’

Does it surprise you, then, to be told that this earnestly Irish subbie failed to show up for work on the first day, and made up some guff about his van having the flu when we phoned to ask why?

Does it fuck! We all know what it means to do something that's a bit Irish. We all know we're supposed to roll our eyes and smile when Irish things happen to Irish people. But holy God, I can't imagine us putting up with that Irishness for much longer, not when there's barely a job to scrap over and we're fecking the peelings into the stew along with the spuds. Perhaps what Mother Hen should have said was, ‘That's a bit Celtic Tiger, isn't it?’ Meaning the attitude that the country owes you a good time and a sun holiday every season just because there's an extra couple of SUVs on the road?

Hopefully. Because if the strength of our character can be dismissed with a mildly self-deprecating comment and a shrug, this recession's going to knock more than the regulation seven shades of shite out of us.

Hmm. Can you tell I'm cranky waiting for the plumber to show up. It's been two fucking weeks, like!

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