Belfast 1946 to 50 in order. Change should not be inspirational

It Is A Prescription For Disaster I worked with a man, Fred, who, upon demob, took a temporary job to feed himself and his family. He became a civilian clerk to the Royal Army Service Corp. The barracks where he worked was a ‘Holding Company’, somewhere to take soldiers in between periods of active service. Their stay was minimal, a few days or a few weeks at most.

When they arrived they brought with them all their relevant papers, about ten in all, history, medical, dental, punishment, and so on, and Fred had to annotate each paper with the details of the man’s arrival, place, date and time. He then had to place these sheets in folders designated for the category of each sheet. On departure he took all the sheets from the folders for each soldier leaving, annotated them all accordingly, and then put them together in an envelope to follow the soldier.

Fred, hated the repetition, even though that was what he was paid to do. He decided that initially, if every man had a personal envelope, with his main information printed on the cover, including the arrival and departure dates etc., this would save time at every new appointment. Very logical as far as it went. So logical that he managed to persuade his boss, another demobbed, temporary clerk, that it should be implemented, and it was. However, they had forgotten one vital component of this utopian scheme, ‘Human Nature!’

Fred thought he had everything covered, he supplied bits of paper for those using the papers to insert in the envelopes saying who, which and to where the papers had been withdrawn, the slip being removed on return. But then people are always in a hurry and full of good intentions, They didn’t need slips of paper, they only needed the papers for a moment. Within a fortnight there was chaos, some men had departed with a few papers missing, others remained but no amount of searching replaced their history. Today there would be no bits of paper, but the computer would probably crash.

To make radical changes presupposes the new ideas really are new, and have not been tried and rejected. The fabric of life has been arrived at over generations by attrition, and modification by experience, not instant inspiration, followed by sweeping implementation, further followed by chaotic tweaking of something which should never have been broached, a prescription for serious cost and chaos.

Categorized as post WW2

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