Dancing on speakerphone

I drove uninsured in the summer by mistake. Many of you know this as I got angry with myself in that special way when you secretly know its your own fault. I got picked up in under five minutes by a patrol car at some traffic lights running the plates. £300 and six points. Despite my first offence of any kind it was deep Covid time, so there was no option of a course to avoid the points. Picked up by new scanning technology. They used to need a reason. But I was driving perfectly well and I surprisingly had no flat tyres. I said to the copper at the time: “You’ve likely fucked my earning here.” He looked at me as if to say “Wrong pronoun.” But it’s only a step away from inadvertently dropping a receipt while pulling your wallet out and getting a littering fine in the post from facial recognition tech. And they’ve definitely made my life harder for no real gain – but for revenue generated by the fine.

This morning I was on the phone to Sixt – the van rental company. Having been stung at the last minute on van hire because of the points, I’m now in the habit of checking and double checking. Nationwide binned a booking two days after I made it. Took their sweet time. Almost dropped me in a right mess. Thankfully Sixt had a van free for a similar price.

I had to listen to their hold music for 46 minutes to check about the points. This music right now consists of one unfamiliar Christmas song on loop -it’s a confused young woman naming seemingly random seasonal items into an autotuner. Thankfully I had no axe handy or I might have done a spot of murdering while I waited. Instead I just danced. In a room full of soft furnishings.

My phone was resting on top of an inflatable dalmation as I spoke about insurance through speaker phone in my bright pink powerfully lit chamber. I had a large cat head on, and was gesticulating frantically to the afternoon crowds on the street outside as I spoke. For work. It’s ART, darling. Not one of those orgies. Art. Yah. My gestures in no way mirrored my words. “I’m concerned about an I10 penalty received in July this year.” JAZZHANDS.

This was to the very nice young man in Germany who eventually answered my call, speaking English that runs circles around much of the English I’ve heard from UK based customer care callcentres.

Sixt is a German company. I found this out today. I hope this bullshit doesn’t throw their business out of whack as they’re great. He reassured me, he was patient and thoughtful and intelligent, and he even ended up extending my rental to fit my needs free of charge, which I was gobsmacked by. Nationwide were crap but it turns out they’re a broker which would explain it. They aren’t renting their own vans so they can’t be flexible and the insurance requirements vary so they just blanket ban drivers with any points. But again it’s got me thinking of this cliff edge that we’re approaching of Brexit.

This time last year the British delivery guys from Team Know-How did everything in their power to make sure they didn’t remove my oven despite having been paid for it. They didn’t want to take it down the stairs. “Glad you’ve taken it so well – normally at this time of year it’s the old ladies turning on the waterworks,” one of them said. “Maybe you should just do what you’ve been paid for,” I ventured. (They didn’t. Mouse droppings. “It’s not safe”. Work avoidance was a clear habit for them.)

A few weeks previous to the lazy know-how lads a pair of Latvians had repeatedly refused my assistance getting a fridge up to the fire escape, and then wouldn’t take a tip – “we’ve been paid well enough already”. They gave me a lift to Pimlico in their van. I only mention their nationalities alongside their behaviours as it’s a noticeable trend in my recent experience that the British at work aren’t particularly interested in being helpful. Or working. And soon it’s likely to be the only choice we have. We will never get anything done. I’ll just keep dancing in the window. Like I can talk. I call that work.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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