Wednesday, March 01, 2017
Ice Ice Baby - Wednesday
I pull slowly into the council car park, the only one I can still use without punitive charges that chase local businesses out of town, even as clueless councillors wonder why there are so many charity shops in the high street?
My wheels spin on the un-gritted surface. For a moment I think the company car is going to slide rather gracefully into one of the disabled spaces that are always annoyingly free, while I circle endlessly for a space, post appointment. The doctor on call sign doesn’t fool the Nazi wardens who patrol here with zestful malice, as long as it’s not raining, so I might have to lift one of those Blue Disabled parking badges if we get to another deceased estate property before the distant relatives have stripped it.
‘Morning.’ Calls a familiar voice as I step gingerly onto the glistening tarmac, having found a free bay and placed the legitimate taxable-benefit permit in the window. I look up to see the disillusioned banker with the dodgy hips, parked opposite me. Great, now I’ll have to talk to him all the way across the park and on to the office. His job title is only one letter swap away from the truth….
‘Slippery.’ Says the banker as he shuffles towards me and I hope for some black ice and a tumble. The new implant can’t be that well bedded in yet, so a dislocation and a trip to A & E can only be a misplaced foot away.
‘Don’t know why they can’t put salt on the surface.’ I say to the banker, as we slip-slide in some ghastly approximation of Dancing On Ice, towards the exit.
‘Cutbacks.’ He answers, spreading his hands for balance like a cheap tightrope-walker. ‘Same at the bank nowadays, bean counters looking to cut corners, irrespective of the consequences.’
He has a point, my boss is a figure-fiddler par-excellence and to think we used to pinch the sandwiches from that geeky kid who excelled at maths, each school lunchtime. Last I heard he was running some multinational outfit who specialise in buy-ins and turnarounds. Shorthand for asset-stripping, a shed load of redundancies and a pension pot deficit.
Our musings on middle-aged underachievement are cut short by a pitiful scream and a dull thud. We spin in unison and I make an unseemly grab at the banker's sleeve as my inappropriate brogues, with the leather soles, momentarily betray me. We steady each other like a pair of over-sized fawns on a frozen lake, to see another old person has taken a tumble.
We get several fallers a year outside the office and I always give out cups of tea and the meagre dressing our impoverished First Aid box will allow us to stock, now the health and safety bitches from head office have removed all the drugs and the scissors. I look at it as more of an investment than compassion that might alter the public perception of estate agents. If they croak in the ambulance, the family might find my business card in a handbag and give me the probate sale.
‘Are you alright?’ Asks the banker pointlessly, as we approach the old lady whose head is already bleeding alarmingly. She has a crimson stain spreading through her blue rinse and we can see her thermal underwear, with her legs at such an an ungainly angle. I’m no paramedic, but I’m guessing not.
‘I don’t want to get old.’ Says the banker wistfully, once the ambulance has gone and we resume our journey. It’s the same comment I get several times a week from ancient people contemplating selling the family home for something more manageable, with emergency pull cords in the bathroom. Pointing out the alternative is much less palatable, is always futile.
The park is as treacherous as the car park and I wonder why the council can’t supply those children’s Penguins, you see on ice rinks for stability, as people slide towards work. Probably spent the budget on a drop in centre for trans-gender giraffes with height issues.
‘You’re late.’ Taunts assistant manager T, at the office before me for once.
I let it slide.