Several things have got to me in the last couple of days, perhaps it's because I'm having to get out of bed at 03:45 and I'm tired. Perhaps it's just that there are some right Barclays' out there.
Let's begin with yesterday morning at work. My taxi dropped me off at 04:45, outside the station, and I had to step over a crumpled heap of a drunkard to get into the concourse. It wasn't the chap in the photo, I just stole that from the interweb. Now I like a drink as much as the next Millbrookian (and more than some); I've drunk far more than I should have in my time. So I'm not one to judge. This chap had had too much and was sleeping it off in a pretty uncomfortable spot; no real problem. He'd be moved on quietly before the public started arriving.
I opened my ticket window to find the man leaning outside it, but I didn't recognise him immediately and when he seemed to be having trouble speaking I assumed he had a stammer so I did my patient customer service bit.
Until he tried to order two beers. He then realised where he was and said he wanted to ticket to Darlington (had to be somewhere up north, eh?). He didn't have any money to speak of, certainly nowhere close the amount needed for a fare to Darlington, and I just said to him "do yourself a favour, mate. You've obviously had too much to drink, just go home quietly."
"I'm trying to fucking go home." was the charming reply.
I repeated myself and he said "No, I think I'll just stay here for half and hour and annoy you."
Oops. That was a mistake. One short radio call later and matey boy is in police custody, drunk & disorderly plus verbal assault (he did use the f word...). Ok - so I won. Did it make me feel good? No. He was an annoying Barclays' and it was the only way to get rid of him quickly, but he didn't really need to get himself arrested. And he didn't really need to give me a hard time.
Next up: same day, same shift. I'm asked for a single to Edinburgh. Now that's an expensive fare (about £148 one way if you just walk up to the window on the day of travel). The man in front of me then flashed an Armed Forces Railcard for a discount. The forces get a 34% discount on most fares if they've got a valid railcard.
I couldn't quite see the date on the card, so I peered over to get a closer look. The date had obviously been altered and was now almost illegible. I said so.
"Oh, no I've only just had it issued." said Barclays' number two of the day.
"But I can't read it - what year does it show?" I asked.
"2009" was the give away response.
Forces railcards are the only ones that run from the date shown, not to an expiry date. As it's still 2008, this was an obvious fraud attempt. I still couldn't see the card properly and refused to give a discount.
The response was "I bet you're looking forward to your next trip to Afghanistan so you can do something for your country."
What? What the hell has that got to do with anything? Does being involved in a rather dodgy and ill-conceived conflict mean that it's ok to lie and cheat when you get back to Blighty?
Does doing something for your country mean wasting huge sums of money, human lives and precious resources in a pointless invasion of a country that's never, ever, been successfully occupied and in which we have no real business at all?
This Barclays' then insisted on taking my name so he could complain! Not only a Barclays', but a thick one. Once the complaint comes in, his attempted fraud will be immediately exposed and with luck he'll be in deep doo-doos with his mob, who really don't like that sort of thing.
I got home, tired out after an early shift to be accosted on the 'phone by Barclays' number three of the day. This was because I choose to spend some of my spare time, voluntarily, as a parish councillor.
Some chap called Stuart who claimed to have found my telephone number on the internet (Millbrooker Towers is ex-d, although the number can be found if you have legitimate business) and wanted to have a go at me because West Street is due to be closed on Sunday mornings in August for much needed resurfacing work. This Barclays' company plays a part in organising the Mount Edgcumbe Classic Car Rally, which is scheduled for the first Sunday of the month.
I had had the temerity to have attended a site meeting with the contractors to ensure that any closure and noise was kept to a minimum, but now everything was my fault. Massive congestion was bound to ensue and "with all due respect" (i.e. none whatever) I had to pull my finger out and stop the road closure.
That'll be the road closure in ten days' time that has been widely advertised for the last ten weeks or more and the dates for which we councillors were actually given no control over whatever. Quite the opposite, in fact, during the site meeting I asked what other dates might be available to schedule the works in an attempt to avoid any closure during the peak holiday season. I was told that if the work wasn't done this August, it wouldn't be done this year.
As politely as I could muster and trying to interrupt the seemingly endless stream of nonsense from the other end, I told Barclays' number three to get off and that all such business should be handled through the parish clerk. I really can't be doing with that sort of thing at home after a day's work.
No councillor's contact details are in the public domain; our addresses are available, but 'phone numbers and emails are not. What on Earth made Barclays' number three think it was ok to hunt down my (not easily available) home telephone number and give me a hard time when the council telephone number is widely advertised and easily available?
Sometimes I just can't stand people. I know there're good ones out there, and thank heavens for that. Sometimes I'm asked why I want to retire quietly and quickly (about four years should do it) to France, to a house with no one within a mile or so. Well, at least three Barclays' have helped to push me that little further towards leaving.
*for the uninitiated, Barclays is rhyming slang, from Barclays Banker.