Mr. McBurnie draws it out…

Date: 2nd September 2022

Our second weekly blog from our resident writer Donald Stewart.

Mr. McBurnie draws it out…

It’s a bit of a nervous day for Mr. McBurnie. The office commute has always been a challenge. Each day he has been trying to make it look like he could manage to get to work, negotiate the coffee cart outside, not spill his coffee, get through the revolving doors and then the escalator to the first floor on which his office is situated.

He has been working there, at the United of Sheffield Insurance Company since December 2020, and he has never managed all three obstacles without some kind of catastrophic event. He even carries a spare couple of shirts in case…

Picture the scene…

It is 7am as Mr. McBurnie leaves the house. In his defence he has never had an issue getting to his local train station. In all the time this has been his commute there has never been an issue. He can get past the front gate, the first level of defence for his house, manage to not trip over obstacles on the pavement as he deftly negotiates past the many fellow wage slaves making their way to the train station and the ticket barrier is a scoosh.

At the other end, the mid part of his journey, he is never phased by the buttons on the Scotrail train, another ticket barrier and the crush as he leaves the station and goes downstairs out into the wide world.

It has to be admitted that there have been a few occasions when his choice of footwear or outfit for the day has been a tad over optimistic by the time he gets to the centre of town and the less is more angle is challenged by a torrential downpour that was never likely when he left the house, but he has never arrived in the centre of town in flip flops and shorts when there has been a monsoon – so far…

Today he takes a moment to compose himself before he makes the journey along to centre of the city to the office block. It is a short walk but his midpoint becomes hazardous as he is forced to make an emergency stop at a junction with a cyclist clearly keen on suicide tangling with a lorry manages to land in the lap of the guy next to him.

Mr. McBurnie side steps himself on his way.

Then there is the McDonald’s breakfast spillage as one woman with four kids attempts to get them to behave long enough whilst foraging through the inadequate paper bag given to carry their feed. With tomato sauce, four year old tantrums and full fat coke appearing like a whirlwind on the pavement, many passers by get splattered, caught and upset on their way to work by this errant family of far too many to be filling full of additives at 8am… But not he!

Finally, as he approaches the final leg of his journey, a young lady loses her footing, her heels come clattering off their shoe and she falls to the ground grabbing the two people next to her, both just out of some specialist coffee place with the latest half fat, oat milk, barely drinkable but makes you feel righteous frothy concoction which they are now wearing on the way to the pavement in falling solidarity with the young woman. Though close by, this does not affect Mr. McBurnie.

He is now at the office black.

Mr. McBurnie takes a step back and a big breath in.

The coffee cart is first.

He orders his own simple beverage which is duly delivered. He checks the lid – it is fixed. He makes sure his way is clear before setting off – it is. He remembers the sweetener he needs and knows that he asked for it to be put in before being fully made. It is a day that the coffee cart has been fully mastered.

The revolving doors loom next.

They are his biggest down fall. Getting through them, however, has always been a big challenge.

Today, however, he is ready for them. Fully automated he checks that there is nobody to bang into as he enters – there is not. Reminding himself that he needs to make sure he is in tune with the rhythm of the doors, he steals himself for a moment and counts himself in – there is not a hitch. Halfway through they stop. About to push, he remembers that by doing so they stop again, and he manages to step away from the impulse. Martin from accounts is behind him and it is he who makes that rookie error. Mr. McBurnie feels a tad smug as the doors begin to move again and he hears Martin make numerous apologies to everyone around him- especially Fiona from reception who was caught out by the sudden stop and banged her head on the partition in front of her. Mr. McBurnie now needs to exit with some style. Coordinating his exit with the doors has always been his biggest problem, tripping up, falling over his own feet, someone else’s, the doors suddenly stopping and him getting what Fiona just had – it has all happened. But not today! Today he is through!

The last hurdle. He knows people think it is the easiest part – the home run, all he has to do is get up the escalator. He is now aware that Sharon from reception and security is watching. Everyone knows that Mr. McBurnie has never got through all three since so long ago. Some people have calendars with days on it marked off, incidents written down and Mr. McBurnie really hated the guy who made a Tik Tok about it all – but here he can put it all to rest.

First the security barrier. He has a small panic as he forgets that his pass is round his neck – it is all he needs to get past security. Sharon and he smile in the passing as he gets through. Now the escalator itself. There is a commotion behind him as the Luton Investments delegation arrive in a noisy crowd and barge through the security barrier, but Sharon is fit for them and decides to do a full body scan on all of them. The way is clear as Mr. McBurnie gets on the stair and ascends. Panic finally begins to settle on him as he approaches the end. The scanning by Sharon comes to an end – she is watching. The offices at the top of the escalator have interrupted their morning ritual – they are watching. The Luton mob have stopped arguing and even they – are watching. Mr. McBurnie skips off and does not trip up. His pass is still securely around his neck, coffee still in its cup and not down his shirt, but his celebrations are muted as he sees at the end of his corridor, room 43, his boss’s room is vacant.

If only the rest of the day had gone so smoothly…


Whilst the author asserts his right to this as an original tale, there no credible evidence that Ollie McBurnie has ever commuted to an office, unless you know differently, so this is clearly a work of fiction.

The fact is that during the week, Scotland striker McBurnie – whose previous league goal came against Leicester City in December 2020 – volleyed home after the break to bring Sheffield United level against Luton Town. He had not scored in 43 consecutive games – the fact that some have suggested that makes him perfect for the starting line up for Scotland is just cruel.

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