Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RANTS!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 26/09/12

Assuming The Position

"Do not assume! When you ASSUME, you make an ASS out of U and ME!"


I live in a council house. I always have done.

(Note for Americans and other exotics: a 'council house' is one rented from the local authority. Although the city of Birmingham (England) calls their HQ 'The Council House', which always makes me chuckle)

Among the responsibilities of the council towards its tenants are not merely essential maintenance of the building itself, but also to provide annual inspections of the gas central heating system.

This last they have subcontracted out, currently to a company which used to be a smallish local company, but which was taken over by a very large corporation from whose clutches I have only recently escaped with regard to provision of the gas supply itself, as they managed to spend two years billing me for someone else's property whilst claiming it was another (sub-contracted) company's fault.

Whichever firm has had the job, the same problem has arisen, namely the inability (or unwillingness) to let the tenant know when they are coming to do the job.

It's happened again this week. I got home from work on Monday to find a card pushed halfway through the letterbox (meaning that, given the weather we've had here this week, the card was half soggy), telling me that an engineer had called to carry out the annual inspection on my central heating but - having received no answer - now required me to phone the company to arrange another appointment.

And here's where the assumption bit comes in. In this as in other matters, there seems to be an unspoken belief that all council tenants are either:

and will therefore always be in. It ain't necessarily so.

There is another assumption which is made in such circumstances; namely that if - by some freak chance in the roaring chaos of the cosmos - the tenant does actually have employment, then said tenant will have no problem in arranging time off work at short notice in order to greet the engineer. Again this is not a given, especially when it happens just - but just - after I'd gone back to work after a fortnight's leave.

The same holds true for tenants who have other responsibilties, towards family or voluntary organisations, say. They too may be unable to rearrange their lives to suit the timetables and contractual arrangements of third parties.

A little bit of thought and a little bit of foresight wouldn't hurt in such cases.