Friday, May 14, 2010

Press # To Exit - Friday

Morning meeting coming to a close and with no enthusiasm to ask for contributions to the any other business section – I want vacant possession in property, not people – I scan my scribbled notes.

Viewing book analysed. Offers outstanding checked and delegated. Appointments for the day designated. Financial services leads discussed. Head office memos inwardly digested and regurgitated with a hint of reflux. Then I see vendor contact and I’m forced to suppress a sigh. I needn’t have bothered, as upon reading the phrase I’m rewarded with a group groan anyway.

Suddenly negotiator S who until then had been looking alluring, if inanimate, is shaking her head from side to side – which if you know her does have some advantages. Assistant manger T is polishing his designer spectacles so rapidly the fake silver coating is in danger of being eroded back to base metal. And trainee F is staring back at me blankly, slightly bovine circular motion to his mouth, making me think he’s chewing gum again.

‘Oh do we have to?’ Pleads S eventually, as T glances up from his lenses and nods agreement. ‘We did that last week,’ T contributes, squinting then extracting a polishing cloth and beginning to rub fastidiously. ‘There’s only so much I can say.’
‘Me too.’ Adds F, risking an all to easy riposte that might be construed as workplace bullying.

‘One of the biggest causes of complaint is the agent not keeping in contact.’ I inform prissily. Unfortunately, it’s the property equivalent of a one-night stand. A brief dalliance when you were keen to swap fluids and phone numbers with each other, followed by several weeks without contact, just the fading memory and a rash. Of course you don’t want to ring. But then with customer service a dying art I’m determined to make a stand. I just don’t want to call myself.

The phone jangles at the lettings desk and B totters towards the handset while mortgage man M lets out a suspiciously flatulent noise, before waddling towards the toilets.
‘Good luck with that.’ Calls T dryly.
‘And good luck telling those owners nobody likes their crappy home.’ Replies M as B picks up her line and begins a testy conversation with another landlord whose rent payment has been misplaced by accounts.

‘See,’ I announce cheaply, waving a hand towards B and her increasingly animated call. ‘Better to ring them before they ring you.’ And with that I retire to my office and resolve to speak to the idiots at my mobile phone network to discuss my ancient preserved tariff I’m doggedly hanging on to. One they’re trying to change by relying on my inertia.

Just like dialling an owner whom we’ve not found a buyer for, I can feel the tension building, as I fight my way through an irritating automated response service, blood pressure rising incrementally with each new platitude about the cretins being busy, and my call being important to them. It’s not.

Then my heart sinks as a thickly accented voice, with English certainly not their first language, answers with a name they’ve obviously been instructed to give and I can’t comprehend.

And can I remember my password? Once I’ve listed my date of birth, phone number and my place of origin, I run the gamut of mother’s maiden name, to kids’ birthdays, and in desperation pets we had as children, none of which I particularly liked – particularly the cat that gave me the fur allergy.

Then information finally retrieved, the advisor announces breezily: I’m talking to the wrong department.
‘Don’t transfer me!’ I scream to the tinny chimes of Vivaldi. Three seasons in I’m still holding when the mood changes to contemporary, and I realise it’s a track by Elbow with the immortal words: It’s looking like a beautiful day. Someone is taking the piss.

‘So how are you this morning?’ Asks the third person I’ve spoken to, password grudgingly given and complaint repeated. Where’s your f****ing empathy? I think furiously, surely you can detect the frustration in my voice? But the moron just compounds their error by asking jauntily. ‘Do you mind if I call you Brian?’

My name’s not Brian. Not even close. But then you knew that, didn’t you?

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