Documenting the habits of weirdos, The Laughing Life

Documenting the habits of weirdos

It’s been a strange few weeks for me. Working in admin behind a reception desk for a business centre may seem like a yawn but when you work with people frustrated by the bonds of bureaucracy and business English, some pretty freaky shit can go down…

For example, exhibit one: free full frontal nudity. When my ginger friend, usually so composed, approached me as pale as Dracular to tell me ‘we’ve had a bit of an incident’, I obviously assumed there had been a fire, a bomb threat, a stabbing (this is London). I wasn’t expecting to hear that a naked man was sitting (yes, sitting, butt naked…) in a brand new chair in the business lounge, surrounded by papers, just getting some work done you know? ‘Hi sir, is everything okay…?’ from my brave colleague who had a less brave colleague cowering behind her (in his defense, he just really didn’t want to see anything.) ‘I’m fine.’ Awkward pause. How do you proceed in these kind of situations…? ‘Is this about my clothes?’ What a perceptive young man. ‘Shall I put them back on?’ Vigorous nodding was followed by ‘well if you wouldn’t mind…’ I know what you’re thinking – an old fat balding man had lost his mind and stripped off in a desperate bid for attention. But this man was young, healthy, calm, professional. He’d just got really drenched and wanted to be dry. It’s a perfectly natural situation…

And then we have that bitter part of every customer facing role, exhibit 2: the wingers. We’ve had some decidedly interesting complaints from one client who just loves a good bitch. She phoned reception two weeks ago to ask, in the thriving business centre of Central London, could we please cease the loud music outside on the street because it was distracting for her patients. Sure, madam, and then we’ll halt all traffic so you can concentrate more fully. Maybe we should shut the tube station next door too in case the sound reaches and turn the power out in case any other loud machines interrupt your fragile train of thought… We wouldn’t want the noise to cut off a complaint in mid-formation, after all.

Now you’re going to think that you’ve misread this one, but just stick with it – exhibit 3 raises the consuming question of – the mystery turd. Because yes, someone in our respected business centre actually did take a dump on the bathroom floor. And yes, someone had to ring the reception desk and inform me. And yes, the poor client said the words ‘you heard me.’ And yes, our cleaner had to sort it out before promptly burning all equipment involved. The world is a strange place. Condense 70 companies worth of people into one building and it gets weirder.

Get in touch with your emojis, poo emoji, The Laughing Life

Oh yes, he’s back.

Then we have that London headache, the panic button of every building, exhibit 4: sometimes, a ‘suspicious man with backpack’ will have you running around the building at random. Sometimes this lost and on-edge search will lead you and your timid colleague to the rooftop where strange noises from the mechanical lift room will have two professional staff members jumping out of their skins and pushing each other into the face of danger. Before you realise that actually, there is nothing in the room except machines. And man with backpack is actually just a man with a backpack.

Another little jewel: for exhibit 5 I ask you to picture a vegetarian extra-miler carrying a mouse outside the building in a box in her black shirt and work trousers. And me, telling clients sitting at reception: ‘oh that must be a big insect…’ Roll in the nervous laughter…

Let’s not forget that old classic, exhibit 6 – the phone call from a jail cell. Nothing will have you manically clicking buttons (often the wrong ones) on a switchboard like a panicked voice from a cold, echoey room somewhere very far away. It’s especially distressing (more for the imprisoned than for me…) when the person requested doesn’t pick up his phone, more so when he shrugs when you at last find him on the third floor. ‘I know, I told him relax. This happens all the time. I do this every day.’ Shockingly the detainee’s voice was no less a-quiver and the calls just kept coming and coming and coming…

And finally, let’s not forget selling women to hairy old guys. That’s right, exhibit 7: the man who offered four of his colleagues to my friend at reception in exchange for me. I’m right here, mate… It’s always the older creeps of the larger persuasion that will try and exchange things for me, dammit. Why can’t I find a nice normal young man with a camel or two (I think I’m worth at least three). Suddenly my screen became fascinating and I started writing an email that I’d already sent off. He totally bought it. Smoooth.

So there you have it folks, seven extraordinary examples of why working with people never has to be dull. There’s a whole world of weird out there waiting for your perusal… Unless of course you’re the weirdest one of them all. In which case you’ll just have to have sneaky Facebook breaks.

Feature photo credit: Ed Gregory.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s