1 Mar 2003

Cods Wallop!

What’s the most influential cultural phenomena to emerge from Seattle in the past decade? Nirvana? Grunge? Wrong.

Anyone who has worked in a ‘progressive’ call centre will tell you that FISH!, a training video featuring the fishmongers of Pike Place market, is the most significant contribution made by smelly Seattle scruffs in the nineties.

I trust that this video will be watched in 15 years time in the same way that those ‘timeless’ John Cleese and James Bolum Video arts videos are rolled out at every training opportunity.

The fishmongers are a group of relentlessly cheerful dorks who have derived a way of dealing with the mundane nature of their work. They throw fish at each other. If you want a halibut (and why not), they’ll send it flying through the air while shouting something inane like “Going to Montana”.

They have become world famous for introducing ‘fun’ at work.

The whole video is designed so your trainer can say:

“Well what do you think? These guys work a 14-hour shift and permanently smell like a docker’s gusset and yet they love their job and customers. You lot work in a nice clean office with hot running water – stop being so fucking miserable and enjoy your work!”

We embraced their theories a little too readily. Bernard, the boss sent us out for a job lot of fishing items: a tank with goldfish and beanbag toy fish.

The goldfish reacted badly to the air conditioning and was dead in days. The beanbag angelfish was thrown when a sale was made. It worked well until it skimmed off Bernard’s head and he was scolded by a cup of coffee.