The following week, Lindsay took Dick to be completely overhauled the following week in the operating section of the shop. Afterwards, the specialist said the operation went well, but it would be 3 days before Dick would be well enough to return to work. Lindsay – and Dick – waited patiently to see if the operation was a success.Three days later, another pretty young woman came and again removed the temporary outsourcing pipe, but this time Dick had to perform in the shop before he and Lindsay would be allowed to leave. Both Lindsay and Dick were very stressed as material was poured into Lindsay’s system and they waited for it to arrive in Dick’s department for Dick to do his work.

Success! Work he did!  However, the pretty young woman checked every time Dick sent the rubbish out, just to make sure he was taking all the rubbish out and not hiding some in the corner, as he had done previously.  For a while it was touch and go.  Extra tests were ordered.  Finally, everyone was confident that Dick was doing his job and he and Lindsay were let out.

Lindsay was pretty weak after the operation and took some days and weeks to recover. Dick was sore and sensitive.  Every part of him seemed to have been thoroughly scraped, cleaned and polished and he could feel every bit of rubbish entering his area now, whereas previously he didn’t really feel much at all while he was working.

But a new problem now emerged. The operation had made Dick so efficient that he was unable to store his rubbish up, like he did in the past.  His system wanted to get rid of the rubbish – any rubbish – all the time.  And it wasn’t always convenient.  The rubbish containers Dick used weren’t always available or close by.  Dick’s ‘stop’ valve seemed to have vanished. Calls back to the shop about this unexpected problem led to an unhelpful response from the pretty young woman:  ‘You just need to re-learn to store the rubbish.’

Lindsay turned to Dr Google, seeking better customer information. Lindsay discovered that the diagnostic mechanics at the shop weren’t interested in the psychological issues of controlling machines and commonly ignored them – as occurred for Lindsay.  Lindsay found that he now had to add an extra sand pit storage area to Dick’s operation to catch any uncontrollable emissions.  Lindsay learnt that this was considered a ‘normal’ result for many customers…but no one had told him this!  Lindsay also realised that he had to rediscover psychological control over Dick if he was to get back to normal operations.

The operation was over. The technical issues were fixed, but normal operations seemed a long way off.  Lindsay worked hard at exerting control over Dick.  He had good days and bad and learnt what worked and what didn’t.  Gradually normal operations returned, for all his functions.

Months later, Lindsay reflected on the whole experience to date (he didn’t feel completely recovered yet). He realised how many other people had had similar problems to him, but hadn’t shared that information.  He realised that having a temporary outsourcing pipe could in fact become a permanent outsourcing solution and that, in fact, you could live with that – something he would never have imagined beforehand.  He realised that, while the shop had good technical solutions, that side effects emerged that he should have been advised about.  He realised that these side effects were important in a total solution and he wondered why the shop failed to mention these possible issues.

He also realised that he should have taken Dick in for a service much earlier, that he had ignored Dick’s incremental decline in service level until it reached the emergency level and that, if he had done that, his outcomes would have been much better. But he also reflected that Dick was now functioning again fully on all cylinders.  Any issues were now minor and he was a lucky person living in a country with a great health system overall.



  1. Dear Graham
    I have followed with interest the Adventures of Dick in recent times.
    I suspect that Dick is a member of “United Voice”, the national cleaners union.
    Cleaners are some of the lowest paid in the Australian workforce, and generally do their work “out of site and out of hours”, and hence can be taken for granted by their employers. When I worked in the city, members of the union used to hold regular Friday evening demonstrations in Collins Street, airing their grievances to anyone within at least a kilometre. Additionally, in order to gain attention, they sometimes need to resort to strike action.
    In my case, I also had a cleaner on my staff, Wee Willy, who felt he was not getting the attention or reward that he deserved. To press his claim for improved reward, he consequently went on strike at a particularly inconvenient time, when I was dealing with another aggrieved staff member, Right Hip Joint.
    Like you, I encountered a number of unanticipated issues following the initial strike, but fortunately, with mediation from an AMA representative, we have now agreed an EBA for the coming five years that includes performance and productivity gain improvements, all without the need for a further Royal Commission into union corruption.
    Willy has resumed work, and remains a valued member of staff.
    I trust you will enjoy the same outcomes in your ongoing dealings with Dick.
    P.S. Right Hip’s colleague Left Hip, is now threatening strike action unless he gets the same conditions as Right! Where will this all end? Do you know anyone who can advise me on staff management?


  2. Phil, thanks for enlightening me about Dick’s possible Union affiliation. Lindsay will have to take Dick in hand about his. Worse however, is I see that other departments in the operation may also be likely to go on strike. This may be the start of something very unpleasant. I’ll speak to one of the pretty young women about staff management for you.


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