Thursday, 4 March 2010
The Tale of the Angry Receptionist
Or the tale of how Cara was publicly humiliated by someone half her height.
On my quest to get to the bottom of Southampton's very own bomb scare I actually had an unusually pleasant conversation with the police. We commented on how hot the reception was, how it's a pain that no one is in the office to give me an interview and then they kindly gave me the directions to the office I needed to see. So off I trundled, to the other side of Southampton, encountered another police officer who kindly let me under the tape and made my way to the big building housing the London Road evacuees.
This is where I met the woman(?) who sent my afternoon into a rapid descent.
With my best and most winning smile and professional voice I asked the woman(?) behind the desk if somebody could spare some time to answer four short questions. Immediately, the woman's gormless face spelled disaster. Had she not understood me? Maybe she doesn't speak English. However, apparently she seemed to think I didn't speak English when with her next question, she kindly enunciated each word for me; "Where. Are. You. From.?".
"Yes you need to speak to our press office"
"No sorry I can't speak to a press office I need an audio quote as soon as possible"
With this she motioned me behind the desk. I thought I'd scored with the small woman(?) who patronized me so; so I followed her beckoning arm.
However, I was brought to an abrupt halt when she opened the partition with a chair firmly placed between me and her.
I didn't have time to assure her I was not going to attack her with my Marantz, before she once again began to talk in that wonderful small person language of enunciating every word.
"What. Do. You. Want?!"
"Just someone to answer a few questions. I just need a few quotes on what happened today, how many people were approximately evacuated here. General details."
"Where. Are. You. From!?"
"Winchester.University". By this point her peculiar form of speaking had caught on and I have to admit I found myself talking it back to her. Maybe she'd understand me better.
However, I clearly said something in her language that was unacceptable as she began to shove me with her chair. For some unexplained reason (I believe it was shock) I refused to move and after a struggle with me and the chair (I may sue for trauma), she eventually managed to shove past (which was no easy feat since her half height had contributed to her being double the average width).
In complete bemusement I followed like a nature observer following some species of rare angry gnome. She didn't like this. She spun back around and told me once again
"I SAID! I would go get the press release!"
"Well I said! I don't need a press release!"
She then retorted (in the best middle aged woman(?) voice) "EXCUSE ME!!".
Out of instinct and mild shock I just exclaimed "What!? what!?" whilst flinging my arms and wildly looking around. Not my best retort, but the situation had rendered me thoroughly speechless and confused.
Thus followed a strange sort of stare down (emphasis on me staring *down*) before she sulkily flung a door open and stormed off.
Well I waited. And I waited. And I waited.
Eventually grumpy came back and handed me a piece of paper with *drum roll please* the bloody press release number on.
She then proceeded to tell me I needed to evacuate the building.
"Evacuate the building? There are people sat in here very calmly"
"No you need to leave the building"
So with my best sigh, best eyebrows raised, best patronizing laugh, best head shake, best "whatever" tone-I flicked my hair and left.
With my best restraint at not being arrested for General Bodily Harm.