Saturday, April 27, 2013
“So, where have you been?” Asks the desk sergeant at my local police station.
Me: I haven’t been anywhere. [Gesture at myself] I’m not missing. I would have noticed.
Desk Sergeant: [Unamused] Yes. But there was the added concern regarding your medical condition…
I rub my right eye with the heel of my hand.
Me: [Wearily] It’s not a ‘medical condition’…
D.S: Anyway, thanks for coming in – you understand we have to take these things seriously. We can close the report now we’ve seen you in person.
Sixteen hours previously:
I’m having a job interview held in the sort of absurdly high-class hotel that's dark and mood-lit even in the middle of a sunny day. The sort that take five minutes for your eyes to adjust whilst unfeasibly attractive members of staff clad head-to-toe in black appear at your elbow from nowhere like the shop-keeper in Mister Ben whenever a small frown crosses your brow and enquire in hushed tones if they can ‘do anything for you’, adding only to your disorientation.
It’s a lifestyle-magazine Overlook Hotel from the Shining, and all the staff are immensely glamorous versions of the sinister bartender. I am rattled, not helped by my mobile phone ringing in the middle of it all.
Me: So sorry, I’ll just get rid of this.
The call is from my landlord, which is odd. I turn the phone off.
My interviewer continues to talk to me. Phrases such as ‘press releases’, ‘social media’ and ‘front-end experience’ are thrown at me. I nod in a knowledgeable manner. I have no idea what is happening.
My other mobile phone rings, because I am the sort of imbecile who walks into a job interview carrying two mobile phones and doesn’t think to turn even one of them off.
(I have two phones because a ‘playa’ needs to ‘keep his shit separate’. By which I mean I can’t figure out how to get the number out of the new one and so have been unable to inform anyone of my new details and have to keep the old one with me.)
Me: [Killing the call and putting the phone on ‘silent’] God, I’m really sorry about this.
Interviewer: Mmm. So tell me – why are you thinking of leaving your current position?
I blather some ‘unable to feel I can fulfill my true potential’ nonsense, assuming that ‘threw a massive tantrum in the middle of the afternoon and stormed out without giving any notice a couple of days ago actually’ would not go in my favour.
I’m outside the hotel in the sunlight lighting a cigarette, observing with some amusement a football-shirt clad gentleman so inebriated he seems in danger of falling into the nearby river. Said gentleman begins to loudly and repeatedly question my sexual orientation, prompted no doubt by the fact I am wearing a well-cut suit and not a football-shirt.
I grin and give him the ‘thumbs-up’ and walk away, checking my mobile phones.
TEXT#1: Police are at our house looking for you as you have been reported missing!
From my youngest brother. “Bit odd.” I think to myself.
TEXT#2: The police are about to break into your house, you’re on the missing persons list. Going to kick your front door in, not even joking.
From my sister. “Actually, this is very odd.” I think to myself. I begin to wonder what my landlord wanted.
I attempt to make some phone calls. Amusingly, the network is down. I inwardly applaud O2 and it’s ongoing reliability, whilst thinking that I’m quite fond of my front door the way it is and that time is of the essence. There is not a public phone in sight. I’m not convinced they even exist anymore.
Five minutes later and I’m in a bar I used to frequent. The barmaid and I ‘sort of know’ each other.
Me: Can I use your phone?
Barmaid: [Dead-eyed] It’s not for customers.
She isn’t in a great mood. I look at her. She looks at me back.
Barmaid: [Runs a hand through her hair] *sigh* What’s it for?
Me: Someone’s reported me to the police as a missing person. They’re about to break my front door down unless they can get hold of me. Now.
Barmaid: Yeah, go on then.
Fifteen minutes later and I’ve spoken to everyone concerned. The police inform me that my recently-ex employer had lodged the report. Despite being fully aware that I’d expressed no intention of setting foot on their premises again until they’d rectified their inability to pay me accurately and in a timely manner. The logic of the actions of my ex-employers continue to escape me. I promise the police I’ll attend the station the next morning to confirm my physical existence.
Me: [Handing the cordless phone back to the barmaid] Thanks.
Me: Shouldn’t really.
Sixteen hours later, slightly hungover, I ring the bell at the desk of my local police station.
Jovial Community Support Officer: Morning! What can I do for you?
Me: I’m the world’s least missing ‘missing person’.
JCSO: THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL!
Me: Mmm. Anyway. I said – I’ve forgotten the officer’s name – I’d come in person and demonstrate my, you know, non-missingness. Is that a word?
JCSO: I’LL JUST GET THE SERGEANT!
I got the job, anyway.