One of the first things I discovered about being a TV apprentice was the number things expected of me that weren’t even remotely connected to my chosen vocation.My supervisor and mentor Bob strongly disapproved of the various errands I was required to do by everyone from engineers to office staff and management but his protests fell on deaf ears because it was a tradition.The requests included fetching items such as cigarettes, cobs, chips, newspapers, monthly editorials and the like, but over a period of time my bow knew many strings and paying utility bills and collecting road tax discs could all be found within my remit.Despite Bob’s protests, I thought it was marvelous because I had the chance to disappear for a while and do some shopping for myself whilst being paid for it, what could be better?
One day I was summoned to the managers office, much to the surprise of Bob because any forthcoming rollockings were usually dispensed by our workshop foreman and on this occasion he seemed to have been bypassed.There was some speculation as to the manager’s interest in me and the inevitable conclusion was that whatever the reason, I was about to get the sack.The secretary asked me to take a seat outside the managers office and trying to read her face gave me no indication as to the nature of the summons.All I could do was sit and sweat it out. trying to work out which particular mischief I had been up to that would merit the attention of the manager but I couldn’t think of anything.I could hear softly spoken voices from within the office but was unable to make out what was actually being said, eventually the door opened and two men in suits came out as I was gestured in.
The secretary came in behind me and closed the door and the three of us sat down around the managers desk.The manager pointed to a couple of cloth sacks on his desk and asked me if I knew what they were.Of course I did, judging from the bank logo they were obviously money bags and as I said so, the three of us all seemed to be nodding in agreement which each other.The manager then told me that everything about to be discussed was secret and I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone and just to be sure anyone meant absolutely nobody.
Now sworn to holy secrecy I was informed that the men in suits were from the CID and that “criminal intelligence” had revealed that our secretary was being followed on her weekly visits to the bank with the company takings.It was apparent to them that a robbery was being hatched and a counter-strike had been formulated to deal with it.The first part of the plan was that I was going to be banking the takings from now on, two or three times a week at irregular times and intervals and using a plastic carrier bag as opposed to a bank bag that advertised the transaction.The CID were confident that nobody was going to suspect that a spotty teenager was sporting hundreds of pounds in a plastic carrier bag. (Gulp, how much?)
Our secretary, was crucial to the second part of the plan as she was to continue to visit the bank once a week with dummy bags, shadowed by the CID. I must admit that I had my concerns about her ability to handle this as she had a very placid nature and I’m fairly certain that apart from being our secretary, she was also one of the local sunday school teachers.Her instructions were to give the bank bags to anybody that demanded them, rest assured that some very nice policemen would appear from nowhere to issue the assailant a swift coup de main, otherwise known as a good kicking.
In the unlikely event that I should encounter someone demanding my carrier bag I too was to hand it over no questions. however, there wouldn’t be anyone to come to my rescue as I really would be getting robbed.Naturally, my manager reiterated that nobody was allowed to know about any of this and suggested if anyone were to ask I should say we’d had a meeting to discuss my college work.When I returned to the workshop, Bob wanted to know what had happened and I gave my prepared excuse. He raised his eyes to the ceiling and tut tutted telling me for the umpteenth time that every school leaver should be obliged to do National Service before they are allowed to do anything else.
I quietly settled into my new role of secretly visiting the bank a couple of times a week, it was easy enough for me to integrate my new tasks with all the other running around that I had to do.
Time passed and I soon became a well known regular to the bank tellers and despite being under 18 years old managed to acquire an Access credit card in the process.
About a year later I was in the secretary’s office marvelling at her ability to touch type without looking at the keys and I was curious to know the outcome of her bank visits as I was still doing the bank run.I posed the question and she looked up and stopped typing, there was a pregnant pause before she whispered and beckoned me closer.She said that after several visits to the bank there had been nothing untoward when one day she was a bit surprised to come face to face with her ex boyfriend who she hadn’t seen since he dumped her.He told her that he had seen her on a quite a few occasions but had never quite managed the courage to speak, which probably explained the mystery person who had been following her.It turns out that he was a bit remorseful and just wanted to know if she was okay about it now, which she was.I remarked that it was a good job it all turned out okay in the end. “Yes” she said, “it all turned out okay, I handed him the bags”