At the moment I’m working for an international summer school in Oxford. My employment contract forbids me from saying which one it is, and I can count at least ten competing summer schools, so there’s no risk of anyone guessing. Yesterday we had to go to the airport to pick up students. It was a complex operation which involved staff being dispatched to the various terminals, collecting students as they arrived on their flights then putting them in Terminal 1 for pick-up by coach.

Once a full coach was ready to go it was accompanied by more staff who made sure to ferry the students from the drop-off points in Oxford to their various colleges and accommodation areas. It was a tightly-run operation and planned in detail, everyone was briefed on their role from the very beginning. The entire day was supposed to run smoothly, but reality doesn’t work like that. Here’s a list of things which went wrong:

At the end of the day, we didn’t lose anyone, and all students were successfully moved from London to Oxford. I’m not sure what the students made of it.

I’m currently reading George Ritzer’s book on the ‘McDonaldization of Society’ and if anything this experience underlines the central point about rationalisation. Yesterday, I felt like the children in my care were as much cargo as the luggage they brought with them, and that’s sort of worrying.