The Car Park


"Mercedes-Benz R300 * Intellectual Businessman" by jiazi (Tim Wang), under a Creative Commons license on flickr.

You can tell a lot about a workplace from its car park. The slightly shabby rat infested car park at the rear of the call centre is no exception with the rows of silent cars speaking volumes about life inside the building it serves.

The majority of cars in the car park are a generally indistinguishable mass of various Ford’s; there’s Fiesta’s of varying designs, KA’s, and Focus’s. Cars which when new five, or ten years ago would have conferred a small degree of status on thier owner, now past-their-best were workhorses ending their days employed in the daily struggle for survival. A surprising amount are uninsured; with three of my colleagues this year alone being hauled in front of the courts.

This rather sad parade is livened up by a smart new-mini belonging to one of the data entry team, a person who does the job more for something to do than the financial rewards, along with a boy-racer Fiat complete with alloy wheels; living with the parents having some rewards in the shape of a bit of spare cash. Enough for a fun weekend, or a flash-motor, but never enough for a mortgage.

Theres a BMW, and a compact sporty Peugeot with a private plate which belong to our client-managers, then there’s our customer-services managers car. I remember pulling-in to the car park on their first day wondering whether their car would stick out, or blend in. I can’t say why, but it somehow felt important. It didn’t take long to spot, a big, brash Mercedes convertable with personalised plate.

This though is trumped by the owner Big Al’s Jag; it has a regal prescence, always gleaming, and always, always in the same spot two spaces in from the corner of the car park. But don’t company owners and senior managers usually get the spaces nearest the building? It’s almost as if Big Al wants to take in a wide-screen view of his empire as he steps out of his car in the morning savouring it as he strolls across the asphalt. Despite the almost imperceptable faded parking bays being unallocated (a strange nod to democracy in an otherwise hierarchical organisation) no one else uses it even whn empty. It seems the rest of us have heeded some unspoken rule that the bay is off-limits to the rest of us.

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