Late yesterday afternoon, shortly after 5.30, I went for a quick glass of Rioja at my usual filling station. Seated at a nearby table outside was a man in his mid to late forties who looked as if he had been an extra in the John Wayne film The Alamo. He was dressed in a cowboy shirt, leather waistcoat, jeans and had a huge cowboy hat on his head with a dead animal tail hanging off the back of the hat. Somehow the look did not quite work. It was not his mode of dress which was irritating but his behaviour. He was on a mobile talking corporate merde du boeuf about ‘deals’ in a particularly irritating and loud Northern Irish accent; completely unaware of the irritation he was causing to others. Why do people need to shout when they are on a mobile? I know the person they are talking to may well be a long way away, but….
I was on the point of asking him if he would mind talking more quietly when a friend of mine wheeled out of the pub, came over, and said he had had quite enough of “Hopalong Cassidy” and was off to another pub.
I started laughing – and every time I looked at the guy after that I just could not help myself. I think actors call it ‘corpsing’, but I just could not control my laughter. He gave me a few odd looks as he ‘moseyed’ off, still talking merde du boeuf into his mobile. I think my laughter was interrupting his concentration.
So… I thought I would theme my post for today, after overdoing the law earlier in the week, by dragging up a few other things which I find irritating – a la ‘grumpy old git’.
Let me start with estate agents… not just any estate agent, but those particularly irritating ones from F*xtons who drive around in Minis. Readers may well remember the expose of F*xtons by the BBC Whistleblower programme. I’m glad of the opportunity to bring it up again. Shake hands with one and count your fingers afterwards. I like to imagine a F*xtons estate agent, thinking of going for a drive in his / her Mini, saying to a colleague “Fancy going for a spiv?”.
Next… Community Service Support Police. Apart from being served with a notice to trim my hedge – which followed their visit to my Staterooms a couple of weeks ago. (The ‘notice requiring me to cut my hedge’ arrived yesterday morning) they seem to be pretty useless – See: the furore about the failure of two Community Support Officers in Manchester to rescue a young boy from a pond (They were not ‘trained’ to enter water). Many of the ones I see around West London don’t look that fit and I saw three of them the other day eating sausage rolls on a street corner – no doubt to build their energy levels to look for out of date tax discs and ‘horror hedges from hell’. Why can’t we have normal Police patrolling the streets? – a fairly rare sight these days.
Call centres have to be pretty near the top of my list. The other day I had to telephone a Gas supplier. The call went roughly as follows:
Ring ring…ring ring…ring ring… “Hello… you are through to XYZ Gas… your call it important to us but all our operators are busy so please hold.” [Muzak, muzak] “Your call is important, you are in a queue, please hold on. If you would like to pay your bill you may now do online at our website www.xyzgas.com.” [Muzak, muzak].
I looked at the timer on my phone. I had been holding for 8 minutes and 16 seconds.
“Hello… if you have a touchtone telephone Press the star button.” I did so…
“If you have moved press 1. If you wish to notify us that you wish to terminate your supply with us because you are moving press 2. If you wish to advise us that you are about to pay your bill press 3. If you wish to pay your bill press 4. If your matter relates to anything else please press 5.”
I pressed 5. “Thank you. Please type in the 10 digit account number at the top right hand side of your bill.”
I did not have my bill with me, just a letter about my supply meter reading. I was losing the will to live. My life was draining away. I felt like holding on and, when they answered, saying “If you would like me to talk to you Press 1. If you would like me to be less angry press 2. If you want me to behave like a psychopath press 3.”
I re-dialled, went though the procedure again after finding a bill, and eventually got through to a human being. I said: “Hello!…thank god you answered. Please don’t go away. I haven’t eaten for days or had any water because I have been trying to get through.” A very charming lady laughed and was extremely helpful – mercifully.