American Jobsworths

American Jobsworths

The true 'Jobsworth' is one who knows the rules backwards, if there is any flexibility with a rule he will ignore choose not to use it.  It's important to distinguish jobsworths from someone who really has no flexibility and really would lose their job.

Tales of American Jobsworths

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Jobsworth Comes To the USA

It is not often that a classic and amazingly funny story emerges from the news.  Will and Guy are proud to bring you one of the finest examples of a "jobsworth" tale that we have ever come across. It may also help some of our readers in the USA to gain a greater understanding of the essentially British term "jobsworth".

On the one hand it is a classic story of ineptitude and the blind following of "the rules" which leads to an absolute disaster. On the other hand it is funny, amusing and witty and leaves one saying, 'You couldn't make it up'.

Enjoy and be appalled at the same time as you read this story.

Normal Day
Everything in Sharon Springs, Kansas, USA when a Union Pacific crew boarded a loaded coal train for the long trek to Salina . Just a few miles into the trip a wheel bearing became overheated and melted, letting a metal support drop down and grind on the rail, creating white hot molten metal droppings spewing down to the rail.

Jobsworth clamps hears

Alert CrewJobsworth clamps hears
A very alert crew noticed smoke about halfway back in the train and immediately stopped the train in compliance with the rules. However, the train stopped with the hot wheel over a wooden bridge with creosote ties and trusses.

Can We Move The Train?
It has been suggested to us that the crew tried to explain the full situation to their superiors but were ordered not to move the train. They were instructed that the rules prohibited moving the train when a part is defective.

So - here is the result:

Jobsworth clamps hears


OAP Fined for Being Too Slow (American Jobsworth) OAP fined for being too slow

A pensioner using a walking stick has been fined for crossing the road too slowly reports The Scotsman. 

Mayvis Coyle, 82, said she began shuffling across a busy five-lane street in San Fernando Valley, California, when the pedestrian light was green, but she was stopped by a policeman when she failed to reach the other side before the light turned red. 

He issued the pensioner a $115USD [£65] ticket and said she was obstructing traffic. Mrs Coyle, who is contesting the ticket, said, 'I think it is completely outrageous. He treated me like a six-year-old.'

Police said they were cracking down on people who disobeyed traffic signals because of the high number of pedestrian accidents.  Around a third of pedestrians killed in the San Fernando Valley between 2003 and 2005 were elderly. The Los Angeles Police Department allows pedestrians one second to cover four feet.  See more Plodsworth stories


Another story, tells of American officials who suspended a pub's licence for three days, because they said topless male dancers broke a law against the showing of bare breasts.


Cancel Your Credit Cards Before You Die

An elderly lady died in January 2007 and a world renowned bank billed her for February and March for their annual service charges on her credit card, and then added late fees and interest on the monthly charge. The balance had been $0.00, and it became somewhere around $60.00USD [£30 sterling].

A family member telephoned Citibank [the Jobsworth in the tale] and here is the supposed verbatim transcript of the conversation. It may make you smile at the inefficiency and intransigence of the employees at the bank or on the other hand it will probably make you cringe.

Family Member: 'I am calling to tell you that she died in January.' Bank: 'The account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.'

Family Member: 'Maybe you should turn it over to collections.' Bank: 'Since it is two months past due, it already has been.'Cancel your credit cards before you die

Family Member: 'So what will they do when they find out she is dead?' Bank: 'Either report her account to the frauds division or report her to the credit bureau, maybe both!'

Family Member: 'Do you think God will be mad at her?' Bank: 'Excuse me?'

Family Member: 'Did you just get what I was telling you - the part about her being dead?' Bank: 'Sir, you'll have to speak to my supervisor.'

Supervisor comes to the phone:

Family Member: 'I'm calling to tell you, she died in January.' Bank: 'The account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.'

Family Member: 'You mean you want to collect from her estate?' Bank: 'Are you her lawyer?'

Family Member: 'No, I'm her great nephew.'

(Lawyer information given)

Bank: 'Could you fax us a death certificate?' Family Member: 'Sure.' (fax number is given)

After they get the fax:

Bank: 'Our system just isn't set up for death. I don't know what more I can do to help.' Family Member: 'Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing her. I don't think she will care.'

Bank: 'Well, the late fees and charges do still apply.' Family Member: 'Would you like her new billing address?'

Bank: 'That might help.' Family Member: 'Odessa Memorial Cemetery, Highway 129, Plot Number 69.'

Bank: 'Sir, that's a cemetery!' Family Member: 'What do you do with dead people on your planet?'

Worst Jobsworth Yet - Warden Clamps a Hearse

Jobsworth clamps hears

An overzealous traffic warden removed the hearse for a supposed parking violation, just as the deceased's coffin leaves the church. You can see the distraught funeral party on the bottom left.  Well done another jobsworth!


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