A bit of a strong term really, but that was just to get your attention. The new 18-year-old appie my husband took on last month is doing really well. He loves to work with his hands (which were found to be suitably rough and calloused at his interview) and there is nothing he loves more than being allowed to work on a big truck. Being the new kid on the block though means that he is subjected to some gentle time-honoured teasing by the older mechanics. He gets sent on errands known as “a long wait” – meaning that he will be left waiting for ages to get something from the Parts Department counter, while others rapidly come and go, whatever their request. Being patient and well-mannered, this boy made no complaint and so the tease was stepped up a bit – he was sent to ask for “a box of sparks”. Reasonably, he thought this was something to do with spark plugs, but when he was handed a patently empty box, he finally challenged the mission and was told that the sparks in question are the ones that fly off the angle grinder when it is in use. (Wink, wink, grin!) He finally twigged but took it all in good spirit. And so the other staff like him. It is just sad that the apprentice in question is a white boy. The older guys can’t carry on the tradition with the coloured or black apprentices – it would be construed as racism.