Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre Woodham: Carpet man beats nuns

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Caught out: the carpet cleaner caught by Target.
Photo / Supplied
Caught out: the carpet cleaner caught by Target. Photo / Supplied

Crikey. Consumer affairs shows have changed since I was a blushing ingenue at the age of 21 on Fair Go.

Back then, the closest thing we got to venturing beyond our G rating was my old mate Kevin Milne's item on the man who was complaining his nuns wouldn't breed.

There was quite the set-up, with coy glances to camera and double entendres until it was revealed that the nuns were actually a breed of pigeon.

I can't quite imagine what we would have done if we'd had a complaint concerning a knicker-sniffing, pleasure-seeking, porn-watching carpet cleaner.

For all the talk of entrapment and salaciousness and the pursuit of ratings, what the infamous carpet cleaner did on the Target show this week was so beyond the pale he deserves everything he gets.

Except having his name made public.

I think for his sake, and his family's, name suppression should be permanent.

One poor caller to my radio show said he was embarrassed to be a man after seeing the show and while I reassured him that nobody would ever judge the males of the species in general, and tradesmen in particular, on the antics of this one aberrant freak, a clever girl on Twitter pointed out that there would not be a woman on this planet who would sniff a man's underpants for pleasure.

I've employed plenty of tradespeople over the years and they have been honest and reliable and I make a point of recommending them to friends.

And I guess that's the only way to protect yourself from the odd weirdo - rely on people you or your friends have used before, even if it means not going for the cheapest quote.

Office martyrs cost us all more in the end

A story came out of Britain this week saying that since the global financial crisis in 2008, the average number of sick days taken has been falling.

This year, it's at an all-time low of 4.5 sick days per worker per year.

Which some people might think is a very good thing. And it is, if people have realised that in these straitened times they can't malinger. It's just not on to ring in sick on a Monday simply because you're hung over and unable to face being upright enough to shower and dress.

If people are now fearful that pulling sickies could cost them their job, and they've adjusted their work habits accordingly, that's a very good change of attitude.

But if people are dragging their sorry, feverish, moist and snotty carcasses into work because they're frightened of being fired, then I'm horrified.

There's an advert on TV at the moment for some flu remedy that shows a harassed and sick looking mother racing around the house getting her teenage kids ready for school and an annoying presenter stands in the foreground exhorting her to take some pills, repeating that we're all just too busy to be ill.

To my mind, that is completely the wrong message to be sending.

There is nothing worse than seeing a colleague limping into work, the fever pulsing off them in waves, their voice hoarse and being told through snot-clogged gasping with the air of a Jesuit martyr that they're fine, really, and there's nobody else to replace them and they'll just soldier on.

Everybody in the open-plan office flinches every time there's a thunderous, crop-spraying sneeze because although there's a tissue pressed up to their bright red honker, a thin layer of tissue is not going to protect you from Germy Jim in the corner.

As sure as there's no cure for the common cold, within days of the human petri dish coming to work the rest of the office starts going down, resulting in far more sick days being taken than if the ill one had just stayed home for a couple of days, asked someone to rub Vicks on their chest and rested.

If you work alone, fine. Do as you wish. Soldier on bravely or take to your bed with a stack of DVDs and some lemon and honey drinks and stay there for a week.

But for those working with others, keep your germs to yourself this winter.

Help those behind eight-ball

When it comes to education I do not know who is right in the battle of the ideologies.

How do you quantify a "good" teacher? Someone who rams information into kids' heads so they pass prescribed tests? Or someone who awakens a hunger for learning and a desire to understand in a child growing up in a home where ambition is lacking.

A teacher has a much easier job if the child comes from a family who believes in the power of education. Kids like that, whether from decile 1 or decile 10 schools, will be fine.

New Zealand schools do a jolly good job of producing top performers. It's the bottom 20 per cent we need to worry about, kids who have been behind the eight-ball from the time of their conception. No folic acid or pre-natal yoga for their mums. They go to school hungry and cold and they are passed up through the years until they are spat out the other end into the adult world, barely literate, scarcely numerate, confused, frightened and very angry.

There are no jobs now for kids like these. The menial jobs for young people of limited abilities have gone. So there's no sense of self respect, of earning a dollar and of belonging to a community. What plans do National or Labour have for these kids? And even if great teachers manage to educate them, then what? Just where are the jobs for kids like these?

Any party that can tell me exactly how we help this lost generation will get my vote.

- Herald on Sunday

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