Where there's a Willesden there's a way

Monday, October 17, 2005


I'm sitting in a room with a small group of my colleagues. There is a low hubbub of conversation, plenty of laughter, and just the occasional nervous glance. We're here because Scary Colleague insisted.

"So", says the man in the middle of the room, "Any idea why you six have been chosen to go on assertiveness training." There's a few nervous glances.

Scary Colleague is being very much missed at present, unfortunately struck down by the suicide disease.* So whilst she's out of action I decided to unleash my inner Scary Colleague. Waking up at 5 this morning, I was contemplating just how many times I'd let people walk all over me in the past few weeks, and what I could learn from a more assertive approach. So this morning, just for a joke, I wrote WWSCD? on my arm. For those of you not familiar with Americans, that stands for What Would Scary Colleague Do?

Standing at the bus stop a little later, I was enjoying some Mansun when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I took out my earphone.
"Brother, please. I have no food and I'm hungry. Please help me, give me three pounds."
I recognised him immediately. The same scary beggar who accosts me and my mates outside The Green, repeatedly asks for money several times in one evening, and, most unforgivably, physically grabbed hold of me in the High Road at 2 in the morning demanding money. I was kicking myself that I gave him money that time, but, lets face it, I was pretty scared.

But not today. I looked at the letters on my hand, and before I knew it, I was talking.
"But Brother..."
"No, you've told me that before, and last time you were rude, threatening and abusive. Now don't ever ask me for money again."
I put on my headphones and turned around.

Yes, so the highpoint of my day was shouting at a homeless man. But whilst I always give to the man with the sad eyes outside Sainsburys because I want to, I was always giving to Aggressive Beggar because I was afraid. Well, the spirit of Scary Colleague lives on. And hopefully she will too. Of course, thanks to my assertiveness half the office aren't talking to me now. But I can always cheer myself up by shouting at a few more homeless people.

Tomorrow, What Would Northern Nurse Do? Have a pint and a smoke.

*so called because there's only one known cure for the pain. And it's pretty popular


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