A load of bollards
My brother, who lives in the UK, applied for a job selling bollards. At first, I wasn’t sure what he meant by “bollards”. I assumed they were traffic cones. My reaction, as it turns out, was typical of a broad public ignorance of the bollard industry.
My brother left school at 16 and worked harmlessly in camera and hi-fi shops for more than 20 years, until he left the world of audio-visual retail to sell buy-to-let mortgages. His job was to telephone customers and convince them to purchase a rental property using the equity they held in their own homes. Within about 12 months, he had brought down the British economy and helped trigger the Global Financial Crisis.
He took a new position with a company that installed home cinemas in the mansions of millionaires, but the business was soon decimated by the massive fiscal contagion my brother had sparked in his previous role, so he returned to a blameless life demonstrating televisions in department stores at weekends. Unfortunately, this does not pay the mortgage, and he and my ex-wife – with whom my brother now lives, making it convenient for me to send them both cards at Christmas etc – have just bought a unit, which is what caused my brother to uncover a hitherto deeply buried interest in bollards.
He put in his application for the job at the bollard company, and spent a day learning about the industry, which is more sophisticated and varied than one might imagine. Its most visible progeny may be internally illuminated rebound bollards, which can be seen directing orbitally challenged people around roundabouts, but others include the proudly royalist “Jubilee bollards” and the hot-blooded republican “Neapolitan bollards”, which differ from one another in the colour and number of stripes around the post. There are Infomaster bollards, which display vital public information; Signhead bollards, which are mounted with signage; sleek Linear bollards; and even heroic, crime-fighting anti-ramraid bollards.
In his interview for the job, my brother was surprised to be asked, “What is the hardest question we could ask you?”
He replied, with great honesty, “Why do you want to leave the audio-visual industry for the bollard industry?”
He confessed (to his own inquiry) that money was a factor, and ultimately missed out on the job to a candidate from a related industry. Although, as my brother pointed out, it’s difficult to identify a business related to the sale of bollards.
I was sad for my brother but happy for the global economy, which always seems to suffer when he’s not quietly selling TVs. However, as a consequence of his misfortune, I’ve begun to notice the huge number of bollards around Adelaide. Anzac Highway in particular is a paradise for a bollard buff (if there is such a person). I tried to count the number of bollards between the city and Plympton, but it was difficult because a disturbing number of posts that look like bollards are actually fire hydrants. I wouldn’t have thought the fire danger was abnormally high on that particular stretch of road, but I guess you never know when bafflingly motivated terrorists might fly a plane into a discount furniture centre.
Excitingly, Adelaide also seems to be home to a special kind of bollard: a hip-high post that stands at the end of a pedestrian crossing and provides a mounting for the crossing button. Perhaps you’ve taken an interest in other unusual bollards locally – if so, you should probably get a life, or at least a job.
I’ve heard there are positions available in the bollard industry.