There is one particular thing that I hate more than anything in the world. More than twisted straps on backpacks, more than the duvet all bunching up into one corner of the duvet cover, more than cotton wool on teeth, even more than the incorrect use of homophones do I hate automated telephone services. My first experience with one was when I was seventeen and attempting to change my driving test booking to a later time in the day because I was a lazy teenager who did not want to get out of bed at 9am during half term. This is what happened:
Annoying Automated Woman: Would you like to change your test to an earlier time? Please answer yes or no."
Seventeen-year-old Me: No.
Annoying Automated Woman: You have answered yes. Your new time will be 8am. Is this OK? Please answer yes or no.
Seventeen-year-old Me: NO.
Annoying Automated Woman: Your test is now at 8am. Thank you for calling.
Seventeen-year-old Me: What? No! NO -
Annoying Automated Woman: Goodbye.
I was too terrified to call back and try to correct it in case I got an even earlier time of 7am and I just had to leave it and get up early to do my test the following week. (In case you were wondering, I failed that particular test, though there is no doubt in my mind that I would have passed had the test been later on in the day. My mind would have had chance to wake itself up and I would have not had a massive nervy b and stopped the car in the middle of a rather large and busy roundabout. As it is, that is what happened and I would appreciate it if no one brought it up again.)
Anyway. I lost my bank card on Tuesday night and therefore had to go through the familiar process of calling the bank on Wednesday morning and explaining to them that it had happened (again) and I would be needing a replacement. Having been in this situation many times before, I knew I would have to give them some kind of security number, and to do that I had to search high and low to find my Little Book of Important Things, which is basically just a tiny notebook full of incoherent sentences and random number sequences under headings such as, 'That Security Number Thing', 'Online Thing', and 'Travel Card Log In Thing', all of which have been scribbled out and re-written various times for each time I have locked myself out of my account and required a replacement number. The only good thing about it is that if my Little Book of Important Things ever fell into the wrong hands, there is very little chance of anyone understanding it well enough to log into any account I am in control of and steal all my money. (I say 'steal all my money' as though there is a lot to take - I currently have 7p in my savings account and not much more in my current account, so they'd be severely disappointed anyway). After entering my birthday (which no imposter would ever be able to get hold of), I then had to answer security questions about my favourite fictional character and my first ever pet. I couldn't remember if I'd chosen Bridget Jones (of Bridget Jones' Diary fame), Hermione Granger (of Harry Potter fame) or Maud Moonshine (of The Worst Witch fame), so I opted for the pet question, only then to be faced with the dilemma of trying to remember if I'd chosen Snuffy the rabbit or Shelley the cat. (You may recognise Shelley from previous blog posts - he was the one my mum murdered, remember?). In the end, I went for Shelley the cat, but apparently he was the wrong choice and I was, once again, locked out of my account. I don't think there has been one time in my life where I have rung the bank and not locked myself out. Eventually I managed to speak to a real human, who very kindly said he would block my card and would provide me with a new one. I thanked him, hung up, and then spotted my lost bank card on my bedroom floor. Naturally.
Another thing that displeased me about this week was an unfortunate incident I had in Waterstones bookshop on Monday afternoon. Given that the bathrooms in the bus station are usually full of absolute degenerates, most of whom are either drugged up or are about to be, the Waterstones bathrooms are really the only suitable place to have a wee in the city centre if you want to a) have a wee in peace, or b) not get a syringe in your arse. (It's never happened to me, but you do hear stories, don't you...). Anyway, so there I am, having a wee, when somehow, somehow, I manage to accidentally pull the In Case of Emergency cord next to the toilet. I'm not entirely sure how it happened (or more to the point, why it happened to me), but it did, and off went the siren, wailing the bathroom down and probably making quite a racket outside as well. Naturally, the first thing to cross my mind was, "oh my God, people are going to think I'm an old lady that's had a fall and needs help, they're going to come bursting in, oh my God, wee faster, WEE FASTER, DAMNIT!" Of course, this particular wee just had to be the longest wee of my entire life - it was well over a minute long, each second bringing with it the expectation of a Waterstones staff member barging in, closely followed by a curious crowd, made up mainly of people who were in my form class at school. (There were currently no members of my school form class in the shop at the time, but during despair the mind will delve into its darkest memories and drag them to the surface in order to make every situation ten times worse). After an eternity, I eventually stopped weeing and walking out of the bathroom to not one but three employees crowded around the bathroom door, asking if I was OK. I mumbled something about being sorry, not meaning to do that, and ran swiftly out of the shop. After regaling the experience to my friend Sam, she responded with, "whenever I feel clumsy or stupid, I just remind myself of your existence." I think she is probably speaking for everyone there, really... You're welcome, everyone. You. Are. Welcome.