Updated: Jun 30, 2019
I went to hire some ladders from the local builder’s merchants the other day, only to be told I couldn't have them. When I asked why I was told: Because of health and safety.
Not one to be deterred by the mindlessly banal I enquired as to what the hell he was talking about. He stated that they could no longer hire out their ladders as I might fall off and sue them.
'But why would I sue you?' I persisted. 'Because you hired the ladder from us', he replied 'Why, have you rigged them to explode just as I’m poised to paint my house?' 'No, don't be silly' he scoffed, obviously not needing to duck, as my sarcasm sailed unhindered over his head, 'Of course we haven't' 'Then why would I sue you?' 'I don't know, but we can't take the risk' he said in a conspiratorial manner.
I felt the need to step back from the conversation at this point and re-cap what had just passed between myself and the obviously redundant ladder salesman. I began once again:
'I walked past your shop and saw a ladder with a large sign saying 'FOR HIRE' on it. Correct?' 'Correct' came the reply. 'I came in because I am a man who is in great need of a ladder. Correct?' 'Er...correct' continued the now nervous rep, who was beginning to smell a trap. 'You said, I can't hire it in case I climb up the ladder, fall, and while I'm in flight, and presumably awaiting the obligatory bump at the end of my trip, start plotting as to who I could sue for my own clumsiness. And in a eureka moment between the clumsy act being expedited and journeys end, I arrive at the wholly unsubstantiated conclusion that it would be you who should take both the blame and foot my legal bills?' 'Er...in a nutshell, yes.'
I thought I'd take a different tack.
'So why are you advertising ladders for hire that you plainly can't hire?' 'To let you know what we have on offer' he beamed, with the look of someone who'd just mastered the companies mission statement. 'In that case I'd like to hire the ladders' said I. 'But you can't' said he. 'But they're clearly on offer, says I. 'I know' says he. 'So can I have them?' 'No.'
I walked out of the shop with visions of this column swimming around my head. Sometimes you just can't believe what you hear or the stupidity of the rules and regulations that govern us. Who, in their right mind would conceive of hiring a ladder, taking it home, falling off it and finding the person who got you to 'sign on the dotted line' as at fault for your clumsiness?
Ambulance chasing lawyers, that's who.
And as soon as we can stamp violently on their individualistic brand of stupidity and greed, the sooner I can hire those damned ladders and paint my bleedin' house.
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