As many of my Twitter followers are aware, I commute into London to work on a daily basis. The journey takes approx 50 minutes into London and then another 25 mins on the tube. It's not a terrible commute. I always get a seat on the train and generally my trains are on time and reliable.
I purchase an annual season ticket. As you can imagine, the tickets aren't cheap, in fact, I have considered Ebaying organs in order to muster up the funds to purchase tickets in the past. Brilliantly, my work offer an interest free season ticket loan for people just like me so I have so far managed to hold onto my pancreas, kidneys, spleen and other desirable transplantable body parts. Being on the ball and organised, I requested my season ticket cheque to be ready to collect last week so I could purchase my shiny new one this morning. The train company website (although pretty flaky) has a "season ticket calculator" which I duly used and calculated the small fortune that I needed to ask work for in order to renew my ticket.
So in I sauntered this morning - in a pretty damn chipper mood if I am honest - but why not? I am fucking organised and "on it" and it's Christmas, I can afford to be a little chipper can't I? As I walked up to the counter and caught a glimpse of the miserable shrew behind the glass, all trace of chipperness was replaced with a kind of heart sinking dullness. What I am saying here is that the utter misery conveyed from the face of the woman behind that glass was enough to penetrate into my very soul. As you can imagine, I had already begun to regret wearing my new fun koala knitted beanie hat and my funky, festive scarf as I cleared my throat and in what can only be described as my "little girl voice" wished her a good morning and asked if I could renew my season ticket.
I pulled out my pre-printed cheque and handed over my existing ticket when a sound so cold and gravelly it could have paved half of Buckinghamshire said "That's the wrong amount - on your cheque, it's for the wrong amount". I started to get irritated - unfair really, I know now but it was 7am. On a Monday and I was wearing a Koala hat and festive scarf and talking to a woman with less life in her eyes than Harold Shipman. I advised her that I had used the online calculator to work out the ticket cost for work to issue me the cheque ad she just said "Yeah well the government have changed everything over the weekend and haven't updated our machines."
Now, firstly, I'm not THE most avid follower of current affairs, but I am fairly up to date with things such as how many organs I am likely to have to auction off in order to get to and from work and secondly, I am pretty sure "the government" don't routinely update rail operators "machines" of a weekend at the best of times.
I cleared my throat which in the small space of time I had spent looking at this woman, had become drier than a nun's chough (must be some kind of Medusa effect) and said politely:
"OK so how much should the ticket be?"
To which she gave the nasally, gravel dragon breath response:
"I have no idea - they haven't updated our machines yet."
Now I GET that public sector people are eggy about government stuff. I do get that. I GET that people are striking due to unfair working conditions and unfair pay to name a few things, but for FUCK's SAKE!? Surely we can't blame the government for everything? Can we?
By this stage I was about as eggy as a catalytic converter. I took back my pre-paid ticket, doffed my koala hat and advised her that I would have another look on the website when I got to work. Then as I walked away from the desk and the poor, poor guy behind me raised his gaze to meet hers, I heard her say:
"Sorry about that, she hadn't checked the amount for her season ticket renewal"
Now I don't very much care if that lady (Give-a-shit-Gertrude as I have nicknamed her) enjoys her job. I don't really mind if she hates the festive season and would rather raise the dead than a welcoming smile but I DO CARE about good customer service. if it is YOUR JOB to greet and help the public, then fucking drop the attitude or find work elsewhere.
The somewhat happy ending to this story is that on calling my train operator's customer service department after checking the website, I have discovered that my season ticket is substantially cheaper than first anticipated. SUCK ON THAT GERTRUDE YOU MISERABLE SHREW!