Where there's a Willesden there's a way

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Harrassed in Hatfield

In retrospect, maybe I should have wondered why my colleagues were so concerned about me travelling to Hatfield.

"Are you sure you're going to be alright?"; "Positive? I'll give you a lift if you need it."

Stupidly, my response to each of them was "I'll be fine. It's a direct bus from my front door."

It all started to go wrong when I got off the bus. I stepped off into a 50mph gale and a torrential downpour. I found the conference centre, and asked a particular unhelpful receptionist for directions. Finally I found the suite myself.

"Is this Adult Care Services"


"Great, I'm early." I introduced myself.

"I think you're in the wrong place. This is the Drug and Alcohol team." I gave them a look they probably see quite often in their daily work and left.

The wind was really picking up when Glinty called me on the mobile. She said "You've gone to the wrong place, you wally. It's the Quality Hotel, which is just next to the university." I promised to be there in five minutes, let go of the lamppst I was clinging to, and set off down the road. I then realised there were five possible roads, and I was by now pretty damp. I had 55p to my names, and I hadn't passed a cashpoint since St Albans. I passed the gatehouse of the university campus, clung on to a 12 foot illuminated sign saying "University of Hertfordshire- De Havilland Campus", and asked the security guard as politely as I could where the Quality Hotel was. He thought about this for a moment, and barked "This is the University of Hertfordshire." Realising that talking to the sign would have been more helpful, I set off down a road I'd chosen at random.

There was a large puddle at the side of the road. I thought to myself "I'd hate a truck to go past right now." You can guess the rest.

I gave up, and went into a cavernous shopping centre, Hatfield's only major landmark. My shoes squeaked, and I looked behind me to see I was leaving a trail of water and mud. Finally someone took pity on me, and showed me to a cashpoint. I walked into Costa, ordered a coffee, and sat down on a sofa with a satisfying squelch. I took what had been a newspaper out of my bag, and read the front page until it disintegrated in my hands. So I sat back, sighed, and took a sip of my coffee. I got some foam on my nose, and realised I was finding it a little too funny in the circumstances.

I somehow got home, got changed, and made it into the office just as everyone who was at the conference returned home. They found it very amusing.

Things like this happen every so often. What made it embarassing was the piece of paper I found in my in tray. Detailed directions to the Quality Hotel, distributed to the entire team. By me.

How on earth did I get this job?


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