Bad Timing

The subject of this post can sum up exactly what’s going wrong with everything in my life at the moment. Work is such a disaster, simply because every time I sit down to do something with my MP, nothing in fact is achieved, just because a magnificent slice of bad timing will derail everything. Today’s problems emerged from the usual random phone calls, but also people arriving for meetings early, then staying forever, making me slowly simmer in my seat.

But the most ridiculous sequence of bad timing was awaiting for me at the very end of the day. My MP had invited someone in to mentor to give them some advice and help for how to deliver a good speech to a local party in order for them to select him. Very nice of him. Of course, the first thing he then does is turn him into a fool by making him deliver his speech for 30 odd people to the two of us in the office… then telling me that, when they return, I will be able to see the effects of his confidence building strategy. This sounded interesting.

But I had no intention of staying to embarrass the poor guy further. The key facts. My train to escape the hellhole of work was at 6:15pm. The current time – 5:58pm. They were still away practicing, so I took the opportunity to leave.

I reach the ground floor, get out the lift, and realise… yes, I’ve forgotten my mobile phone again. I normally just leave the damn thing in work if I do that, but this time I thought I’d rescue it, because I’m expecting an important call from the landlord. I turned round and got back in the lift, forgetting to check if it was going up or down. My luck was bad – I got that sinking feeling and my stomach wept gently. The time was ticking on. 5:59pm.

I arrived at the lower ground floor. Someone got on the lift, and meanwhile I didn’t get out. I just couldn’t. It would normally be the done thing to leave when one has made a mistake with lift etiquette, and pay the punishment of taking the stairs. Otherwise one has to face up to the embarrasment that you have just gone the opposite direction from the button you have, evidently by the flashing light around it, pressed.

By the time I’m back to my floor, it’s 6:00pm. I moved very quickly to my office.

I suddenly realised that it might have been better to leave the mobile behind. The MP had returned with his chum, and they were looking for a victim to inflict the selection speech on. I couldn’t escape. I said it would have to be quick… 30 seconds was the promise, 2 minutes was the actuality. It was a good speech, but I couldn’t give a proper critique. Not that I have anything useful to offer anyway. 6:04pm.

But then, I was volunteered to escort the guest off the premises, since guests aren’t allowed to go anywhere by themselves without the police having a nasty habit of detaining them. We walked to the lifts, pressing the down button.

Ring ring ring. The lift arrived, the doors opened. Only then I realised, as the doors were shutting, that we were in a lift, as the division bells were sounding. There was a vote in the Commons. This automatically sends the lifts to the top floor. Too late. Up we went. 6:06pm.

The fifth floor awaited, and at the doors were a crowd of impatient looking MPs. You see, only MPs are allowed to use the lifts during a vote. I had no choice. I had to get out and walk, from the top floor. Inside the anger was rising, but I had to remain professional. Down five flights of stairs I had to go. 6:09pm.

Upon reaching the bottom I told my guest I was going out the front doors, but he decided he would like to be escorted into the sekrit Westminster tube exit. I had to oblige. A shaking of the hands later, the time was 6:10pm.

Normally the walk to the station takes 9 minutes when I’m at top speed. This time I had 5 minutes. I simply had to get the 6:15pm train as the next one wasn’t until 6:35pm. I couldn’t stand waiting at the station for 20 bloody minutes, standing there having to pretend the London Lite (the terrible free newspaper) is interesting while the departures board mocks me from above. I simply had to get this train.

The choice was made. I ran as fast as I could. The sound of boring work shoes on pavement is very noticeable – crack, crack, crack. Not like soft trainers. It’s also quite uncomfortable to run in a suit, while holding the pocket with my money in and the other with my mobile in. The consequence was that I stormed along the pavement, and every single person who was walking in my direction felt it was important for them to turn around and see what was going on. I can only assume they thought they were about to get mugged. 6:11pm.

I flew round the corner – and to my shock, the traffic was clear. Across the road I went, but my energy was now zapped. I couldn’t run any more. I just had to walk. It was a battle. I even had to forego picking up the London Lite from Mr Give-It-Away-Man who shouts, “Interesting Lite, Free Lite, Interesting Lite, Free Lite…” on an endless cycle every night. But I had to prioritise. 6:14pm.

My confidence that my train would be on its usual platform was rewarded. I steamed through the departure board area, strolling (since it’s not a good idea to run in London train stations!!) past the endless hordes gathered waiting for the glum news of another delay. I dodged the usual slow people, and avoided crashing into the faster ones, got through the ticket barrier, and made it with seconds to spare. It couldn’t have been closer.

An extraordinary series of badly timed errors and requests… but it ended nicely. Only the punishment now is that my right foot appears to have seized up. I suppose that’s what happens when you don’t do much exercise.

Still, I’m home. And another terrible week is nearly over. Even better still is the fact I actually have something to do this weekend…

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