Where is your Banksman?

On my train journey into London I pass the Crossrail construction site just outside Paddington. I have often ruminated on the meaning of the “Where is your Banksman” signs dotted around the site. Not being familiar with the industry and not being convinced by my initial image of besuited financial advisors roaming the tracks in case of ad-hoc pecuniary need, I asked my neighbour who is, luckily, connected with the site.

Now I know what a Banksman is – someone who is your assigned lookout when you are moving heavy equipment – I see this sign everywhere (not, unfortunately, on Sainsbury’s shopping trolleys); it has successfully got past my attentional filters as I have (reasonably) deeply  processed its meaning. What has left me thinking more about Banksmen, however, is the last thing my neighbour said on that matter; “of course, many accidents on site actually involve running over your Banksman”. Hence the sign. I had assumed that it meant you were supposed to get one, not just focus on not hitting one.

It seemed a rather sad irony that the person appointed to help you is apparently the one that put themselves in the most danger. They are not the only ones though. When we are looking out for others, whether professionally through the helping professions or as coaches, colleagues, friends and family, we put ourselves potentially in the way of the heavy equipment of anger, dependency or blame. And yet we usually do it willingly.

Look out for your Banksman!