Monday, July 03, 2006

Life on the Mean Streets - Heatwave.


It is official, we are in the grip of a heatwave. Those nice people on the BBC have said so. Yes two consecutive days with temperatures over 30 degrees constitutes a heatwave here in good old blighty!

So it was with this in mind that I donned my body armour before entering work today. You see the heat has a decidedly nasty effect on the morally challenged. They become increasingly more irritable, increasingly more drunk and increasingly more dangerous. The heat brings out the worst in them. Ok so I accept that we can all get a little irritable when we are hot, but remember that these people already live on the dark side of society.

So I headed down to reception with not a little trepidation, but hey ho, I'm a grown woman I can handle this. As the lift opened I just knew that this was not going to be a good day. Two young men had already succumbed to the heady delights of too much sun and alcohol, it was 10.00am. They were laid face down in the foyer. Don't worry, I checked, they were ok, so I stepped over them and headed through into reception.

"Did you know you have a couple of bodies in the foyer?" I asked Betty the receptionist.

She stood up and leaned over the counter, sighing, she nodded. Yes, she knew as well as I that today was going to be fun.

"Still breathing?" she enquired as she sat back down.

"Still breathing." I replied.

I looked around the seating area, the usual array of shady characters, each trying not to make eye contact, checking out the detritus under their fingernails, contemplating their navels, picking their noses. Armed with the trusty swipe I let myself into the reception office. The phones were ringing off the hook. Always happy to help I picked up the phone nearest me.

"Hello how can I help you?"

Thirty five minutes later and several cancelled appointments with miscellaneous excuses ranging from mum not leaving the bus fare, ah bless, to not being able to get their backside out of bed, and the absolute top of the league,

'I woz out wi me mates last night when some bloke broke me nose', hmm, the bloke in question broke the aforesaid nose whilst being head butted by the nose owner!!

Heading back to the lift I was pleased to note that the foyer ornaments had managed to crawl away somewhere less conspicuous. Unfortunately one of them had left a rather yukky deposit before departing. Once again I headed back to reception, now half full, and the bucket cupboard. Copious amounts of lovely lemon scented detergent was the order of the day for this little job. Just as I finishing up my Mrs mop routine, I felt a shadow fall silently across the foyer. Turning I saw a huge giant of a man looming large in the doorway. I smiled nervously.

"Hello," he said smiling benignly.

"Hello. Reception is through those doors," I motioned with my marigolded mit.

"Are you the cleaning lady?"

"Well at the moment it would appear so wouldn't it." I collected up my assorted cloths and bucket and went back into the reception office. Betty looked up, distracted again by the phone. Back in the foyer waiting for the lift, I noted the familiar shadow once again.

"Hello nice lady."

"Hello there," I replied

"Where are you going now?"

"Upstairs."

"Why?"

"I work upstairs. You need to go and check in with reception dear, and I need to be getting back to work." I hit the lift call again.

Oh goody, I'm having a conversation with rainman's best friend.

Suddenly the shadow was a presence, rather too close for my liking. I stepped to the side a little, I felt arms length was in order.

"I'm not supposed to talk to ladies," he announced suddenly

gulp, "well then maybe you should go and sit down and wait for your officer to come and get you,"

"I don't want to, I want to talk to you... you're nice aren't you."

I could hear the lift coming, I could also hear the words of my Manager ringing in my ears, 'don't let anyone you don't know into the lift, gunman, rapist...' I decided the lift might not be the best idea. So once again I turned toward reception, rainman's pal following. I looked over to Betty for a little moral support, no joy she was deep in discussion with a rather inebriated young woman. Who, despite her condition and the situation, brought out the Grandma in me, I pushed a hankie in front of her, and motioned that she might want to wipe away the milk moustache she had acquired while trying to sober herself up a little before her appointment. Giggling she swatted her lip, Betty glowered, the girl must have been no more than seventeen.

I turned and headed to the door leading to the back stairwell, Rainman's pal a few paces behind. As I reached the door I could feel his breath on the back of my neck.

"Where you going now nice lady?"

"I've told you dear, I have to go back to work. Now go and sit on a chair and wait for your officer. You'll get into a lot of trouble if you don't behave yourself."

"I'm not supposed to talk to ladies. They make me feel funny. I like feeling funny." At that his hand descended to the depths of his trousers.

Alrighty, a new tack was definitely in order, "Right, plonk your arse down on that chair now or you'll be in BIG trouble, do you hear me," I ordered.

His eyes hit the floor and he scuttled away to the nearest chair. Out of my eye corner I could see a young man frantically re-engage his nose in a picking frenzy,

"and you stop picking your bloody nose, your head will cave in one day."

With that I bustled out into the stairwell with the reassuring clunk of the door as it locked behind me. As the day proceeded to heat up so did the tempers of those in reception, only a minor riot, a couple of broken chairs and a lot of shouting and door slamming. I suddenly discovered that I have a new respect for Betty the receptionist, her cool, seemingly offhand manner, her lack of engagement with the 'clients'. We all have to learn the tactics that will protect us, they may be physical, verbal, or when you are on the front line emotional.

20 at confession:

Nikki said...

"Oh goody, I'm having a conversation with rainman's best friend."

"...his hand descended to the depths of his trousers."

LMAO and gagging respectively.

That would have scared me to death. You were much more cool than I could have been.

He's lucky you didn't poke him in the eye with your little swipey card.

"and you stop picking your bloody nose, your head will cave in one day."

LOL - did he stop? or at least look chagrined?

St Jude said...

Nikki: None of the above, he just wiped his big fat boogie on the chair ;0(

WBS said...

Could of been worse, instead of the chair he could have eaten it.

The most exciting thing we get in our reception is the odd lost DHL man. Mind you, our rather nice but well past retirement age receptionist couldn't cope with much more. One of the techies had to show her how to use the switchboard again - the fourth time since she came back from holiday.

Joking aside, not sure I could be so calm and have the patience you seem to have.

St Jude said...

WBS: I may make light of the situations, but to be honest, not all but some of these people really need some love and care. They break my heart at times.

Meg said...

That was hilarious, St. Jude. Sounds like your new job is full of adventure...and weirdness. I actually thought my job was weird. I guess I have no idea...

Kate said...

Wow Jude, I didn't know whether to laugh or bite my nails nervously while reading that. Glad to see you managed to shake off Rainman's best friend LOL

You really must be a saint to put up with them.

Stinkypaw said...

Don't really know what you do, but you handled that great!

St Jude said...

Meg: Weird is just a part of the fabric in my workplace, but it makes life interesting.

Kate: Thank fully not every day is like this one, just four out of five ;0)

Stinkypaw: thanks for dropping by, nice to hear from you. I'm afraid my lips are sealed on the old job title.

Sven said...

Oh how I wish my job was that ammusing. Thanks for sharing.

Dr Joseph McCrumble said...

More guts than me Jude

Attila The Mom said...

Hope this goes through this time---

Eww! Boogers!

Cherrypie said...

LOL - I can almost picture it. Glad you've got a weekend to enjoy the heatwave x

Stella said...

You are a brave woman and you make it sound so funny.

Rhonda said...

You write so descriptively that reading this post was just like being there.

And, you make it easy to read between the lines. It's clear that despite the odd and disturbing things you see, and the humor you have to have to get through some days, you care deeply for the people you are working with.

I hope you continue to post your work adventures!

a.c.t said...

I must get some of those bikinis for my puddy cat. He would look so lovely.

St Jude said...

Thank you everyone, I am not brave, perhaps foolhardy, but not brave. I just feel that everyone deserves one chance at least. Don't get me wrong, I know that some of the people I deal with are pure evil, I've got read their files! But in amongst those are some lost 'souls', who just need someone to show them a little interest. I am realistic, most will not respond, but if only one does, then my time has not been wasted.

Rhonda: I will be posting regularly about my work.

Stella: I am sorry that you have given up on your blog, I for one found it very interesting, we all have something to say and to add. This is not a competition, it is the one place that everyone has a voice. Please re-consider.

kim said...

I love when you write about work ...a lot of the time it leaves me laughing and speechless... sometimes I just worry for you... be careful girly

St Jude said...

Kim; thank you for your concern. Don't worry, I do a mean glare ;0)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Great blog! I'll be back.

I used to manage a domestic violence shelter so I can relate to both the bizarre "humor" and the heartbreak.

Rainman said...

Its a good thing I dropped by here today. Otherwise I wouldnt have know you were making fun of me.

"Ten minutes to Wapner. We're definitely locked in this box with no TV."

 
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