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Monday, July 24, 2006


Happens every day

One of the things I increasingly find happening to me is being used as a mobile information / tourist information centre by the general public. Must be something to do with being mostly the only uniformed street presence apart from the Salvation Army.

You do get asked some daft questions though. The classic has to be one chap asking me where a famous chain store was while we were both standing outside the main entrance.
“Hey mate. Where’s Debenhams?”
“Main entrance ten paces that way sir.” Says I. I swear he’d been staring at the lingerie clad mannequin in the window for a good five minutes before he’d got round to asking me. He had the good grace to look mildly embarrassed before laughing at his error and patting me on the shoulder.

You get asked questions ranging from “What time is it?” to some quite obscure ones like this one from today; I was approached by three nineteen year old lads with ‘excuse me’ looks on their faces. The ringleader pitched in with; “There’s this shop right, that sells those things, you know, tingly things that ring and do all sorts of, you know. Do you know where it is?”
“Joke shop sir?” I jumped in with my own translation of this jumbled interrogative.
“Yeah, right.” Beamed the eternally confused personage as though having experienced his own moment of sudden enlightenment. His friends nodding enthusiastically in agreement.
“Depends what you’re after. They stopped selling those handshake gags last year. One of our lads was a keen customer.” I responded. The bastard. “They shut down last summer.” Their faces fall. “Mind you, there’s another place that might do what you’re after…..” I reel off the directions and send them on their way looking a little happier.

Historically, other supplicants at the oracle have included slightly embarrassed people asking me in hushed voices where the nearest Anne Summers store is (Trust me, I know where it is and can give directions although I’ve never bought anything there myself - honestly). Then there’s the old chestnut of what time the last bus / train leaves town; when do the pubs open, where is the nearest public toilet. Questions delivered in English that is not so much broken as terminally shattered. Sign language helps here. Never mind about the near continual questions about parking restrictions half way across on the other side of town based on only the sketchiest description of the location.

This is without having to stand there and listen to the litany of complaints about what the Council should and should not be doing. As if that was within my power. “I just deal with the parking restrictions sir / madam. You need to talk to someone in planning / social services / environmental services.” Is my stock response and I direct them to the Council offices where they can make some other poor bugger earn their salary.

Well, it does make a change from being shouted at just after you’ve booked someone. The sun is shining and it's been a fairly quiet Monday.


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Location: British Columbia, Canada

Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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