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Putting You In The Hot Seat

, , , , , | Right | August 18, 2021

Since I’m having no luck with my job search, I agree to volunteer at the charity cafe my mum runs through our church. I wouldn’t normally because I have trouble standing for any period of time, but having been shut for six months due to a certain global disease, new restrictions mean that they need someone at the door to take details for contact tracing, which I can do sitting down.

Mum and [Second-In-Command] usually go in at 8:00 and Mum bakes fresh scones and pancakes while [Second-In-Command] completes the new and extensive cleaning routine. The other volunteers arrive between 9:30 and 9:45 to open at 10:00.

This morning, I arrive at 9:30 and ring the bell to be let in. It’s a miserable day and the cold and wet has gone to my joints, so it’s a two-crutch day. [Second-In-Command] lets me in and I can immediately hear someone grumbling in the corridor.

Second-In-Command: “Don’t say a word. She’s been here for fifteen minutes and I wish I hadn’t let her in.”

I recognise one of our regulars, who’s known to be difficult, standing in the corridor. As soon as she sees me, she starts shrieking.

Regular: “I’ve been here for twenty minutes and they won’t let me in the hall to sit down! It’s disgraceful! I demand a seat!”

Second-In-Command: “We’ve been through this. We can’t let anyone in until we finish the cleaning, and that won’t be until we open at ten.”

Unfortunately, my station is in the corridor facing her, and the second I sit down and start taking my coat off, she starts screaming again. 

Regular: “Preferential treatment! She’s getting preferential treatment because she’s her daughter.”

Second-In-Command: “She has a disability and can’t stand. And that’s where she does her job.”

Regular: “What if I had arthritis?”

Second-In-Command: “Do you have arthritis?”

Regular: “No, but what if I had a seizure?”

Second-In-Command: “Then we’d get you immediate medical attention from the trained nurse whose daughter you’re screaming at.”

Regular: “I’m going to complain to your minister! You can’t treat me like this! You will let me in now.”

Second-In-Command: “The answer is still no.”

She shrieked and sulked and demanded for the next thirty minutes until we officially opened and she got into the hall to sit down. Then, she started grabbing anyone who went past her table to try and get them to sympathise with her. Other regulars actually came out to apologise for her behaviour. My mum had to tell her she had to stop disturbing everyone else or she’d have to leave. 

She swore we’d lost a customer, but I think we can live without her £1.50. If she’d asked nicely for a seat, we’d have got her one, but screaming at everyone got her nowhere. And she’s guaranteed that if she arrives early again, she won’t be allowed in the building before opening time.