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Keep yer face on, Grumpy

By Ray Lewis on Nov 13, 08 09:00 AM


I was made redundant a while ago and have since learned that whilst unemployment doesn't open many doors, it certainly opens your eyes. Last week I was standing in line waiting to sign on when 6 feet 6 inches of Tattoo walked through the door and muscled its way to the front of the queue.

It weren't a happy Tattoo. It weren't a well-spoken one either. I guessed from its conversation with the young lady at reception, (conversation in its loosest sense) it had a vocabulary of about twenty words, ten of which were variations of grunt. From what I could glean, its money hadn't been paid, and bits would be ripped from people if it didn't get it pronto. She scurried off to get the manager.

Impatient, Tattoo scanned the room. "Wot ye lookin at" was directed at a member of staff whose reactions were slow. Her head immediately dropped to her computer screen as she frantically tapped her keyboard pretending not to hear. It stared at her for several seconds as if daring her to look up, before lifting its head and scanning the room again.

I, having experienced "Wot ye lookin at" types in the past, and being happy with my face where it should be - attached to the front of my head, turned away sharply just in time to avoid eye contact.

I tried to imagine what could be inside of its head controlling things and got a vision of an amoeba with a joystick and a button labelled PUNCH. Quite how an amoeba could press a button (or operate a joystick) I wasn't sure, but what was clear to me and everyone present was that if you new what was good for you, you succumbed to its needs.

The receptionist returned with the manager and they ushered it into a back room. I'll bet it didn't have to fill in twenty fifty-page forms and have its bank accounts scrutinised before getting any money. The manager's past experience of the amoeba pressing its only button would probably ensure prompt payment.

Normality in the queue was short lived when what looked like a 10-year-old girl received a text message. It was obvious it was a text message by the contemporary ringtone..."You've got a F***ing message." What surprised me was that no one other than me looked up, or seemed remotely shocked by this. She was not even the slightest bit embarrassed and after reading the message, fingered a reply at a speed that would have turned Mavis Beacon green. She could have saved the effort, as her mother, (the recipient) was sat only ten feet away beginning an interview. Equally unembarrassed by her equally offensive ringtone, she interrupted her interviewer with, "Wait a minute," read the message, turned and giggled towards her daughter, then turned back towards her interviewer and said, "O.K. you can carry on now."

Is this the way of things? Am I expecting too much in the way of courtesy and respect between fellow human beings? I've been unemployed long enough to become bitter and twisted, and at times, if provoked, I can be a little irritable, but my mobile phone beeps when I get a text message, I've never ripped anyone's face off and I still smile and say hello to everyone I meet. Perhaps I'm just a behind the times grumpy old man.







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