Something jolly exciting happened this week which I feel duty-bound to recount.
I was at work, as I tend to be of a weekday, and – just around the time all the bosses go into their morning meeting, usually to discuss exactly what time the next meeting is – had nipped to the canteen to get some breakfast.
I was mooching around the refrigerated area, looking for some milk that didn’t go out of date the day after, when I suddenly heard the following statement: “Are you seriously telling me it counts as two portions?”
Naturally I looked up and saw that the woman speaking – shrieking to be exact – was blonde, in her early 40s, power-dressed in pencil skirt and blouse, puce-faced and almost shaking with rage.
“I mean, seriously?” the woman added, waving her plate in the air as if inviting everyone to look.
Let me, at this point, explain what was going on.
I go to the canteen pretty much every day. The girl who serves the grub – Brenda – definitely fancies me, though I think this is because she wears thick glasses and so presumably can’t see my oversized ears and pockmarked complexion.
I usually order scrambled egg and she always gives me an extra dollop, before giving me a little wink as she hands me my plate. The chemistry is incredible.
In 15 months of ordering my breakfast, nothing interesting has ever happened, other than the odd saucy aside from Brenda.
Then, the other morning, it all kicked off.
The canteen offers a five-item breakfast offer for £1.80, which is where the angry 40-year-old power-dressing woman comes in.
She had decided to take advantage of the offer and put on her plate a sausage (a brave move if ever there was one; the sausages in our canteen look like they’ve been there since the early 1980s, and taste like it too), a rasher of bacon, hash brown, beans and scrambled egg and went to the till to pay.
“That’s £2.80 please love,” said Brenda, not winking (she didn’t find this woman as attractive as me).
‘No, it’s the five-item deal, so it’s £1.80,’ replied the woman, at this stage, fairly pleasantly.
“I’m afraid you’ve got six items there,” said Brenda, “so the special offer doesn’t apply – it’s £2.80.”
The woman gestured to her plate and like a teacher trying to explain algebra to a particularly backward child, pointed at each item and said very slowly ‘one-two-three-four-five. It’s five, so it’s £1.80’.
It was at that moment Brenda dropped the bombshell: “No, it’s six. You see the scrambled egg counts as two items.”
Watching this exchange from the other side of the canteen, I felt a frisson of excitement for I sensed something special was about to occur - and the woman didn’t let me down.
‘You can’t be serious?’ she bellowed, not unlike John McEnroe questioning a line-call during the 1981 Wimbledon final (the only things lacking were a tennis racket and a bad perm).
Brenda, I could sense, was now enjoying this.
“Yes I am serious,” she said, calmly, in the carefree manner of someone pointing out a sycamore tree on a leisurely stroll around a picturesque park. “We use two eggs in our scrambled egg, so it counts as two items.”
The woman, who until this point had been relatively calm, lost the plot in quite spectacular fashion. ‘Are you taking the (expletive)?’ she screamed. ‘How can one portion of (expletive) scrambled egg count as two (expletive) items? This has got to be an (expletive) wind-up. You’re an (expletive) joke.’
Brenda – all the while wearing her ‘I’m Brenda and I’m here to help’ staff badge – didn’t so much as flinch. “Well I’m afraid rules are rules,” she replied patiently, smiling, “so it’s £2.80 please madam.”
The woman glared at her, snorted through her nostrils like a bull about to attack, and thought for a moment, I think, about hurling her plate smack in Brenda’s face. But then – slightly disappointingly, for by this point I was filming the exchange on my mobile phone and had high hopes of it going viral - her shoulders suddenly slumped and she turned and marched out defeated, cursing as she went.
Brenda turned to me and said: “That doesn’t apply to you love – if you have scrambled egg, you can have four other items”, and gave me a wink.
First rule of any office job: keep the canteen staff onside.
Just a simple thank you...
Call me a grumpy old man (and you’d be right), but there is something that is increasingly annoying me.
I know, technically, pedestrians don’t need to wave. Stopping is not something the driver is doing out of consideration for others, he/she is obeying the law. You wouldn’t wave at a shopper for not shoplifting so, you could argue, why wave at a motorist for doing what the law demands?
But, as a driver, I get slightly irked if there is no response from pedestrian, no acknowledgement of thanks that I have just slowed my vehicle for them.
I am a very nice driver. If I see someone approaching a pelican crossing, I will slow early and even flash my lights in jocular fashion a couple of times to indicate I’ve seen them and I am coming to a halt.
Which makes it all the more frustrating when someone wanders across without even so much looking up from their mobile phone while delving their other hand into a giant-sized bag of cheese and onion crisps.
I’m not suggesting the pedestrian on the pelican crossing should rush to the driver’s window and profusely thank them for coming to a halt, perhaps embracing them while inviting them round for dinner the following Tuesday, but would it hurt to give a little wave or perhaps doff their cap?
I think you’ll find the answer is no it wouldn’t.
Right, rant over. As you were.