I have never worked in a place where they had that dear old device called a clock-in clock-out system of determining who's there and who's not, and what time they "clocked in" and what time they "clocked out."

It's always been a case of turn up on time and do your time, and that's that.

Although there was a time when I was actually the clock-in device, although I was prone to timing errors depending on the situation.

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While foreman in charge of inwards and show floor crews at a local wool store I would fill out the time sheets.

During the height of the season the lads would be expected to be there and ready to fire up at 7, and most were.

But there was the occasional errant soul who, after a bit of a night out would dash (more a stagger really) in at 7.42am on a Friday or Saturday and simply apologise profusely and beg not to be docked as he needed the dosh to get his car back on the road, or whatever.

And some were uni students who needed every dollar they could gather.

So I'd turn a blind eye and lodge them in at 7 ... on the basis that come Friday at 5 there'd be a pint waiting for me on the leaner at the tavern.

It was a very effective system.

It saved me a fortune.

In the first couple of jobs I had after leaving school (where I was never late) it was basically the boss standing by the door or looking out the window — one eye on his watch and the other on his arriving employees.

Which, at the end of the day, was a fair call, because the bottom line is you get paid for the hours you work.

One of the older chaps at a warehouse I once worked at was obsessed with saying "be punctual".

He'd say it usually twice a day ... for no real reason.

But nowhere along my employment journey have a seen, or experienced, a clock-in and clock-out.

But I used to hear about them, especially from blokes who worked in industries where there was a large workforce and where there had to be an automated system to keep tabs on who was in and who was engaging in a spot of tardiness.

Foolproof ... sort of.

Because I also heard stories about how some blokes (who wanted to spend the day at the races or whatever) would give their card to a mate and get him to clock in and out for them.

Some got away with it and some didn't.

But on the whole, a pretty sound and effective system which can be set up anywhere.

Anywhere but Spain.

For me, the story of the week was that of a civil servant who worked for the Valencia provincial government as an archives director.

Just what an archives director actually does is anyone's guess, and in this case it transpired that none of his work colleagues appeared to know exactly what he did either.

Which is understandable, because for 10 years ... yep, 10 years ... he did not appear to have actually done anything.

And for 50,000 euros a year.

For it transpired that this imaginative chap would turn up at work in the morning and clock in.

So his arrival went on the record.

The he would simply slip out again, before returning to clock out at 4pm ... the end of another working day.

Except he was never at work.

For 10 years.

It was only late last year that some of his workmates began to suspect something was amiss.

It took them nine years to figure this out?


So, he was put before a tribunal in Valencia which, after sifting through the evidence, declared that what he had done was "a flagrant neglect of the essential duties inherent to his work post".

What work post?

Because it took everyone nearly a decade to discover he hadn't actually done anything.

There were no records of any work he claimed to have done.

However, unlike many people in Spain, and places like Italy and Greece where record-keeping and financial requirements are sketchy, this clock-in and clock-out renegade almost certainly continued to pay tax on his 50,000 euro salary ... so maybe that's why all he got at the end of the prosecution day was an order that he was not permitted to work in any other public post for nine years.

Which wouldn't have bothered him ... because he had never worked at one in the first place.

Es excelente!