Time for a rant:
For those of you that don’t live in the Royal Borough, we have something called an advantage card. These are given to residents so that they can reap the rewards of local benefits – so, for example, if you park in Windsor, you’ll get a discount on parking costs, or in some car parks its even free. Sweet Jesus!
Now, I loathe the council of our fayre Borough. Let’s just say I wouldn’t be shocked if my picture is up in their HQ with a sign above it saying “this man is an argumentative twat, don’t answer the phone if he rings”. This would be mainly because I tend to fight parking tickets, even if I’m in the wrong. In one instance I took it all the way to traffic court.
Any road (get it?), last week at an office Christmas party I got a tad merry and my wallet went a-missin’. Very careless of me, but I woke up still drunk so I didn’t really care that much. Over the past week I have been replacing all the cards in it. One of the cards I lost was my advantage card. I needed to replace it anyway because the chip reader thing on it NEVER works in ANY parking machines in the ENTIRE BOROUGH. This has meant I have been forced to park on double yellows with my hazards on when I’ve needed a Starbucks. I mean, what else am I meant to do – PAY TO PARK???? So I swung by Windsor Leisure Centre last week to pick myself up a new one.
I sauntered up to the woman behind the gym desk, who already had an air of patronisation about her, and said “hi, yes, my wallet was stolen, I would like a new advantage card please.” In typical British customer service style, she looked at me like I’d just asked her to shoot her own mother in the eye. “Ok,” she said, “I’ll need some ID.” “I don’t have this,” I replied, “given that my wallet was stolen with the ID in it and someone is probably renting a car with my driver’s license and breaking the Swedish speed limit as we speak.” She did not laugh at my little joke. It’s true though, whenever you are a victim of theft, your bank statements always come up with transactions made in countries like Denmark, Norway or Slovenia. Must be a Scandinavian Peninsular trend.
“Ok,” she said, “have you got a utility bill?” I looked at her blankly. “No, I don’t carry them around with me, weirdly enough,” I answered, “Plus all my bills are electronic now, so I couldn’t show you one if you wanted me to. I do have a British Gas app on my phone though.” She smirked (she was loving the power she held over me) and said “You could try that.” The app had my address on it but my name was no-where to be found. Apparently this wouldn’t do. “I need something with a name and address on it,” said the woman with glee. “Well if I show you this app with my address on it and then loads of emails and texts with people referring to me as “Andrew” in them, will that do?” I questioned. “No, sorry,” she said, in a sort of nasal drawl, “I need to know you are who you are and that you live at that address by seeing something with your name and address on it.”
At this point I was becoming irritated. “Not being funny, but I have had less drama getting my bank cards replaced and this is just for an advantage card,” I said. “Yes, well, we need proof you live in the Borough. People come in here and pretend to live here so they can get into Windsor Castle for free,” said the lady. I refrained from rolling my eyes across the desk at her, and said: “Well I come to this gym, I live ten minutes away, people at this gym know me, I can assure you I live locally and all this seems a bit silly now.” “Sorry,” said nasal Noreen, “there’s nothing else I can do, its the rules.” “Can’t you ring up the council and make them make you bend the rules for me…I’ve come out of my way to get a new card today?” I suggested. “That’s not very nice,” said the gym lady, who I think was offended by my suggestion that the council “make” her do something.
Before long the manager (who reminded me of Mr. Brittas from The Brittas Empire) was involved. “Have you checked he’s on the Windsor Leisure System?” he asked the receptionist, who had not even asked my name before this point. I enjoyed this as she then had to ask it, which the manager seemed annoyed at given that she hadn’t even checked I was on their database before pestering him. The power swifly swung back in my direction at this point. But no, the manager would not let me have a sodding advantage card. I proceeded in waving all sorts of apps with the name “Andrew Bullock” on them in front of his face, and separate things on my phone with my address, such as emails with “Your Amazon Order Has Dispatched To…”, on them; but this would not do. I then told him that ordering a new driver’s license was easier to do than this, at which point we were in the corner of the reception having our little heated debate. In the end, I surrendered, which is highly unlike me, but demanded back the 30p I had had to pay to park at the Leisure Centre (due to my lack of advantage card). And off I went.
The moral of this is perhaps don’t lose your wallet, carry a utility bill around with you at all times and when the woman behind the front desk has the demeaner of one of those bitchy women you find behind a doctor’s surgery reception, turn around and leave. I mean, honestly, if I wanted to get into Windsor Castle for free I would just call on my ex dance partner the Duchess of Cambridge. I think this month off I am currently in the midst of is showing me I have too much time on my hands…
– – A