I rather recklessly quit my job - reckless in the fact that I have no other job to go to and starvation is a very real possibility. While the looming threat of enforced idleness fills me with utter joy, I have to face facts and at least pretend to look for alternative employment, no matter how soul-wrenching this may be.
With this in mind I recently visited a recruiter. She was the queen of the vague email - making definite plans for a meeting, then sending me a confusing, 'let's meet up sometime'. What? We are meeting up, you sent me a thing saying we were meeting here, at this time. 'Oh right, yes. Let's do that then'.
I trundle to her offices. There's no information in a decidedly bland reception. It looks the sort of place I've seen on Watchdog, where fly-by-night companies set up shop, swindle the vulnerable, then high-tail it to the Costa Brava. They always seem to be having baskets of flowers delivered. Indeed, in front of me was a distressed looking courier carrying a large bouquet. Then it was my turn.
'I'm here to see Penny Windermere'
Without looking at me the lady at the desk states.
'Fifth floor, take the lift on the right'
I was surprised by the lack of pointlessly rigorous security controls, but did what I was told. On the fifth floor there was a locked door with a sign stating, 'Bang on door for attention'. So I banged. A flustered man approached.
'Yes' he said with venom, obviously angered that someone had banged on the door even though it says 'bang on the door'. I sort of nodded towards the sign in my defence and then said 'Penny Windermere'. The word 'blank' doesn't really do justice to his expression. 'What?' he asked, as if I'd requested carnal knowledge of a beloved childhood pet.
'Penny Windermere' I repeated with increasing uncertainty.
'You better come in'
He led me to a small office, where he immediately returned to an argument he was having on the phone. I was left in front of another lady behind a desk.
I got another blank one, right between the eyes.
'Penny Windermere. I'm here to see her about my career'
'Who does she work for?'
Of course I had no idea who she worked for. It was one of those companies with instantly forgettable, pointlessly complicated names, such as 'Aquasquint' or 'Contrapledge'.
'I don't know' I said like a fool.
'You don't know?'
'I think it begins with an A'
She regarded me like the prick I was.
'There's no one of that name here, you'll have to go back downstairs.
I took the lift back down. The lady at reception acted as if she hadn't just sent me on a grim, painful journey to the fifth floor.
'Yes?' She asked.
'Penny Windermere' I said for the four hundredth time that morning.
'You'll have to fill out one of these' she said, shoving a temporary pass before me.
'I didn't have to fill one out before'
'She's on the fourth floor. You need a pass for the fourth floor'
'She's not on the fifth floor then?' I asked with incredulous rage.
'Nah' she said with a joyous smirk. 'We have a lot of Pennys here'
Which was the closest I got to an apology. Another basket of flowers arrived.
My meeting was a failure. Penny Windermere grew very glassy eyed while I told her about my trip to the fifth floor and then left me alone in a room to fill in a form, while possibly alerting her colleagues to the security threat that had just arrived from downstairs.
'We'll be in touch' she lied.
I went back to the office and visited the website of a local zoo, to see if they are hiring.
They are not.