The Goddess of the Reception

Oh the joy, I’ve got home work, no, real home work. I went on a course last week and we all got given the “handouts”, I hate handout, especially if the presenter can’t be bothered to do them and just prints of the PowerPoint. It’s so demeaning to get sixteen pages of quotes, the first one always being the “Hello” the second one, “I am” and then the third, “I am going to”.
But there I was in an office based class room with eight other strangers who looked about as interested as I was waiting for the presenter to start. Now I call them presenters because they don’t really teach. Not when you’ve been doing your job for many years and have real life experience and the presenter looks as though they may have tried the job for a year or two and then found it too hard, so decided to present the job to other people. They are not teachers, looking around me I could tell that my fellow attendees were all seasoned advisers.

Why was I there? I’ve sort of got involved with a help group, again. At the moment, I’m working for the charity as a volunteer but they have been asked by an organisation if they could set up an outreach centre at the library where I work. Of course, muggings here is getting involved because I used to be an adviser and a darn good one. Now I have to learn how to recept clients. It’s true I’m going to be a receptionist, a gate keeper. I will have the power of all the God’s and Goddess’ in the Universe. I will be the one that decides who, and when and if I will let you see someone. I will not only have the power, I will be the power. Uhum, sorry, getting carried away there.

I’ve got this friend, she is really nice, she has a beautiful dog and we meet on the fields when I have my two out and we talk about stupid things, like horses and people. Yep she is like me she regards the majority of people as stupid, including me. The best thing is she is my receptionist at my surgery, she is the gate keeper, but I have cheated the will of the God’s and all their demeaning ways, I have befriended the dragon and talked nicely to the doctor’s receptionist and now I am friend, I can see who I want when I want, if I talk nicely and bow down to her superiority.

Or just tell her to mind her own business. The fact is the last time I went to the doctors was because she made me, she actually made the appointment to make sure I went in. She saw me on the field that morning and mentioned that I looked like death warmed up, when I told her what was wrong she made the appointment, rung me and told me to get in to the surgery. It was good job too, I was in the hospital shortly after and now I am 100%. Thanks to the Goddess of the reception. Now I am to be hoisted to that position.

This will be slightly different, the people we will see will want to know all sorts of things and being a drop in, the only thing I will have to do is give them a form and tell the adviser that they have arrived. So why I need a six-hour course, I have no idea. It took me an hour and a half to drive there and then to find parking and there I was sitting in an uncomfortable chair with my sixteen-page hand out waiting for the presenter.

Please say something, anyone, open your mouth utter utterances, don’t let me be the first one to speak, no, there it is the urge to…..

“Well this is nice.” I smiled, yes that got a reaction. I could see brains waking up, surely one of them will say something.

“Come here often?” I didn’t say it, not really.

“No, not if I can help it.” The man next to me laughed.
“Seems I said that out loud.”

“Yep.”

Deal struck, me and Richard we going to shake this class up a bit, and we did.
As the presenter presented herself, we were asked to write our name on the sticky labels and put them on our tops.

“I’d like a bigger sticky.” Richard declared.

“I’m sorry asked the very young lady presenter.”

“I’d like a bigger sticker, this one’s too small.”

“Why?”

“Because I forgot me glasses so I have to write my name bigger and there isn’t enough room.”

“Oh, then get someone else to write it for you.”

He turned to me. I obliged asking him to spell his name. I began. N U M P T Y.

“That doesn’t spell Richard, said the presenter.”

“It doesn’t matter he can’t read it, he hasn’t got his glasses.”

The rest of the class saw the funny side.

Now maybe I’m the only one with a brain cell, but if he didn’t have his specs how could he do the course work? He explained that he could see the board but not the handouts. “Oh, you are so lucky.” I retorted.

We got through the first third of the presentation and learnt that it was always a good idea to greet someone with a smile and that we should be aware that some don’t speak English nor read, nor write, “nor have their glasses I added.” Another general guffaw erupted. Except the pair in the twin set and pearls. Rewind, it’s 2017 not 1987, cardis and pearls are over, get on with it. These where the volunteers that every other volunteer in the business really dreaded meeting. The we have read the book and it is as important to follow the Word of the Page as it is to follow God. We were the devil incarnate and Richard had spotted then too.

Richard was a smoker but I gave it up many years ago, however there is something really comforting about going outside in any weather during a course, that is reassuring. Maybe it’s the opportunity to get outside and have a whinge. I hadn’t noticed how tall Richard was until I stood next to him. It doesn’t faze me, height, my husband is six foot four, does nothing for my posture, nor my glasses. To hug a tallie you have to learn to twist and bend. First there is the embrace, be prepared to bend over backward and then make a quick decision as to where to put yourself in relationship to the gigantean arms that embrace you, always being aware that you need to breath and being buried in a chest of a rugby player does nothing for the intake of oxygen. That manoeuvre secured you have to be aware that wearing glasses is a hazard when hugging a tallie as they inevitably get pushed across the side of your face, catching your nose and bending into the most unlikely shape. I now go into my local opticians weekly to have my glasses straightened. I missed a week once and when I returned it was with great delight that I explained that my husband had been away and that I didn’t get the bear hugs I was used to.

We returned to the class room. No, I didn’t get hugged by Richard and yes, he was cuddly and cute, but he was just not my type. What type is that? Married, I like my men married to me. I don’t want some upstart thinking he is going to have a mad passionate affair with me. Well OK I would welcome an affair as long as the affairee in question has money to spare, a big house, his own cleaner, I don’t do housework. And doesn’t expect sex. I’m not into all that.

Returning to the class it was roll play time. We had to pick a partner and no sooner was it said than Richard made a beeline for Twin Set and I went for Pearls. Whose names were and I couldn’t make it up if I tried, Margot and Lucinda, their names fitted nicely on their stickers. Lucinda bent and squinted at my label. “Jenny” she snarled. This was going to be fun.

The first game, sorry roll play was greeting the client. Instantly there was a tirade for the other side of the room, Richard had chosen to play the part of the angry client and no one else could tear themselves away from the scene. My improvisation skills were itching to get involved and luckily, I was playing the Receptionist in our scenario. Walking sternly to the corner where Margot had pinned herself to the wall, I asked as nicely as I could if I could help, the presenter at this point paralysed, I don’t think she had ever seen anything like it. We were supposed to be pretending, being fair to each other.

“I suggest sir you take a seat.” The banter began.

“Where do you want me to take it?”

“On the arse sir.”

“You can’t talk to me like that I’m a customer.”

“No sir, customers pay to be abusive you get the privilege free of charge. Now sit down.” I raised my voice.

The presenter ran over, I think that’s enough for today she whimpered, but Richard hadn’t finished. “I want to see an adviser.”

“You want to see a psychiatrist.”

“You want to see a real man.” I knew where this was leading but nipped it in the bud.

“Find me one, honey.” I turned and walked off the class laughing. All but Twin set and Pearls. Lucinda was comforting Margot.

“That’s the real World,” Richard told them, and he was right.

The rest of the day wasn’t as dramatic. I sat on the settee that night and looked down at my handouts and the phone number at the top of the page. Richard, it read. 07859******.
Should I? I’ll just put it to one side, just in case.

Today I received a friend request on Face book, it was Richard, I trolled his page. He only lives a short distance from here and has two wonderful daughters, no picture of a wife, although he did say he was married. I’ve confirmed. He reminded me that we have homework and have I done it. I explained that I wasn’t part of the organisation and that I had to do the course for the outreach, and he scolded me, homework is home work.

Question one: If you are presented with an aggressive client what do you do?

Answer: Tell them to sit down, shut up and behave themselves.

Hum, I somehow don’t think I’ll make a receptionist, I’d be wielding a baseball bat in one hand, have lots of tissues on the side and sweeties for the kids. Plus, I don’t know how many pages I have left in my little black book for telephone numbers.

I think the course was worth every minute, it’s taught me a lot. I’m not a Goddess and I don’t think I ever will be.

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