Saturday, 26 December 2009

The Mug's Game

The mug on the desk said: “You don’t have to be mad to work here … but it helps.”

This was then followed by three – three – exclamation marks.

The woman behind the desk beneath the mug bore a slightly bovine gaze. Grazing on the pages of one of those magazines whose editorial remit is limited to celebrated cellulite and sweat marks, her bottom jaw aimlessly worked a wad of what the occasional pink bubble revealed to be gum, rather than cud.
This, I reasoned, was the owner of the mug. I am perceptive like that. It comes with the territory.

I waited to be acknowledged.

I waited a little longer.

I coughed.

Chew, chew, chew. Infl a t i n g b u b b l e ...

Chew, chew, chew.

“Er, nice mug,” I lied. The triple exclamation mark was like a trident jabbed in my eye.

She finished gawping at whatever picture currently held her attention before looking up at me with a resigned, sullen slowness that left me in no doubt as to: a) the lack of interest I held; and b) the unreasonable amount of effort this conversation would present to her.

Her eyes were deep and warm and surprisingly lovely. There was also absolutely nothing going on behind them. Clearly, this was to be an uphill struggle. Time to wheel out the patented Adams charm.

“So, do you, er, have to be mad to drink out of it?”

Chew, chew, chew. Infl a t i n g b u b b l e ...


She looked at me like I was the one the mug was referring.

“No.” There was real scorn in her voice.

Chew, chew, chew.

“Oh. Er, super. I guess if you did, you would need to drink insani-tea, wouldn’t you?”

Another long gaze. I was struggling.

“Um, y’ know, I used to be a container for hot beverages. But in the end I had to quit.”

Chew, chew, chew.

“I, er, I realised it was a mug’s game.”

“You what?” Again, real scorn.

“Er, nothing. It was a joke. Sort of.”

“I don’t get it.”

I felt tongue tied and acutely aware of how shambling, unwashed and generally unattractive I was. Dammit! I think I may even have been blushing a little. I had heard that certain banks and utilities providers had actually made it policy to hire some of the dimmer bulbs of our dear populace. And if they happen to be really rather disarmingly beautiful, so much the better.

Long on patience, short on wit, they are excellent at soaking up customer complaints and deflecting unwanted enquiries with the kind of uncomprehending, uncombatable inertia that only the truly stupid can bring. You can’t outwit what isn’t there. It’s like dividing by zero or something.

“Look, um, Mr Rylands left his card behind a bar last night. And I’ve been asked to return it to him. So ... uh, I would quite like to return it.”

Chew, chew, chew.

“To him.”

Infl a t i n g b u b b l e.



No comments:

Post a Comment