Sunday, January 20, 2013
Something For The Weekend - Saturday
I’m drumming my fingers on the desk like an over-wound metronome. The noise echoes round the empty office as the clock ticks relentlessly towards opening time and still I’m the only one here. A tertiary background noise is thrumming in tandem with digits and second hand and I’m momentarily puzzled, until I realise it’s my heart running at an unhealthy beats-per-minute rate. I just need the teeth gnashing to start and a complete meltdown is only moments away.
‘Sorry I’m late.’ Puffs the weekend lady apologetically. She’s too mumsy and polite to shout at, despite the ringing in my ears and the latent anger of having to be working at the weekend. An annoyance that has lasted more than two decades, while contemporaries who paid more attention at school play golf, squash or shag their neighbour’s wife on a Saturday. I mutter an acknowledgement and scan the diary to double-check a sea of viewings that will challenge my navigational skills around a busy town centre, given some of the timings. I’ve already gathered more keys than a pedantic prison warden would keep and my clipboard has print outs of the appointments and property details clipped to it in chronological order. It borders on obsessive compulsive, but with better dress sense and no vegan dishes on the menu.
Finally the door opens five minutes after the published start time and B our loose lettings lush stumbles in looking dishevelled.
‘Morning.’ She mutters with the hint of a slur. I only just stop myself from uttering a sarcastic, good afternoon, as she wobbles to the kitchen and the kettle is audibly filled. The weekend lady, totally oblivious to body language - as her woeful viewings and financial service performance confirms - starts to dribble on about her children and some school event she attended in the week. I’m not in a good place.
‘Nice sports jacket.’ Mocks B as she returns clutching a steaming mug of something that might just have an alcoholic addition she thinks I don’t know about. There’s no sign of a drink for me, or the rotund mother who can’t make mortgage or valuation appointments but thinks I might be interested in her nine-year old daughter’s performance on the recorder. A scream at this juncture seems a reasonable option. I agonised over the non-matching trouser and jacket combo long and hard and now any fragile sartorial elegance confidence has been undermined by a slack slapper with gin in her veins - if not her coffee - and what looks to be last night’s blouse still on.
‘Dress down Saturday.’ I tell her, thinking viciously she has one every day, usually with a different bloke. I know there’s a lot of choice on the Internet but surely her dating profile must carry some sort of virus warning by now?
‘I prefer a man in a suit, or true casual like chinos and a polo top.’ Posits B. And I thought just trousers and no school homework to do, was her benchmark.
‘I think it looks very smart.’ Says comfy cardigan lady, finally tapping in to this earth’s atmosphere. It’s not the sort of endorsement I really want but better than the one for speeding I picked up when late for an appointment last month.
When I first started in this benighted industry I thought a blue blazer, with shiny gold buttons and grey trousers was suitable attire for the Saturday/Sunday stint, but then I also had the faint trace of a mullet hair cut and flirted with a moustache briefly. I’ve always been judged on sales figures but thank God they didn’t monitor fashion sense back then. At least pre-social media era there’s no digital traces on-line of that particular history.
‘Got much on?’ Asks B, bringing me back from my reverie with a start. Briefly I think she’s still referring to my clothes until I realise she’s talking appointments. I recite the list that will keep me out of the office for most of the truncated working day while others wash cars, watch live football in the pub or waste estate agents time viewing properties they have no intention of buying.
The book nobody tried to ban..