Memo to all: watch your ass

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The Independent Online
IF YOUR name is Fanny, change it. If your name is Randolph, don't shorten it. And for goodness sake, always remember that an ass is a donkey.

This is the latest advice to American executives whose career paths lead across the pond to Britain, a country with cold weather and warm beer, where cowboys are "dodgy builders" and Indians "wear turbans, not feathers".

It caused amusement this week at the American oil company Amoco when, in the form of a 50-point checklist entitled "Things you need to know about working for a British company", it was passed among staff.

"Power lunches and working breakfasts will be replaced by elevenses and tea-breaks", it warns, adding: "Offices will be 12ft x 6ft for executives; 8ft x 5ft for senior managers. Everyone else will be shoehorned into a small open-plan space. It will not be air-conditioned."

Taking a swipe at the Great British workplace - in a manner that could have been written by a Brit - the list warns: "The company jet will be replaced by the company bike. Company cars will be similar in size to a shoebox and will have an engine with the power output of a hairdryer. Food portions in the company canteen will be large enough to feed a small pygmy. The restaurant will serve spotted dick at least twice a week."

Bemused executives are told: "Giggling uncontrollably at toilet humour and words like `bottom' is normal behaviour. And even when talking about dancing, seabirds, tobacco or hairdos, never use the word `shag'."

There is the usual complaint that "cold drinks will be served with a maximum of two ice-cubes, which will not be renewable. Cold drinks will not be renewable either."

Most complaints will ring true to the British worker - "The company's social club's sports activities will be cricket, darts and football hooliganism."

Three other pieces of advice, however, may not. Point number 46 states: "Nobody likes Fergie. At all." No 47: "Nobody ever did." No 48: "Or ever will."

Latching on to a typical preoccupation with un-PC office practices, the advice adds: "The company newspaper will have a photo of a semi-naked woman on page three and lots of juicy articles about who [sic] the receptionist is bonking."