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Sunday, 25 May 2008 02:00

PATCH

By  Sean Hampton-Cole
Keys. John speaking. 'Lo?
Good morning. May I speak to Bob Mitchell please?
Bob in Bonds?
I'm not really sure. I'm trying to...
You want extension 125. This is 152. Happens all the time. No problem, though, I'll patch you through.
Hold on. Hang on.
Yes?
You're the fourth person I've been passed on to so far. I'm afraid I'm going around in circles here!
Who've you spoken to?
Someone named Shirley in Bulk Cash. Uh, a Dirk Green in Client Services and a...
(Shhh. I'm on the line. Hmmm. You foxy little... Go in... five minutes. I'll be there... the cream.)
I beg yours?
Oh. Nothing. Sorry. Just finishing a report here. You were saying?
Yes. Um the other person was Charles Something from I forget where.
Support maybe? Charley Sim? (A stifled woman's giggle.)
Uh. Yeah. Might have been. I'm not really sure. Look can you just...
Hold on, I'll patch you through. (Let the fun begin...)
No no. Wait. 

Di da doo do dah dee.
(Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold the line or press hash followed by the extension number to leave a message. For main reception, press the star key.)
Badda-badda bee doo did um di doo
(Your call is important...


Support. Charley here. 'Sup?
Damn.
Huh?
Sorry. You're not even the same Charley.
Uh...
Sorry. I've been put through here by mistake. Someone named John – I don't know which department.
Yeah. Jonno. Key Accounts. We call him 'John Shlong'. Know why?
I think I can guess.
You want me to dial you through?
No no no. I need to speak to a Bob Mitchell please, it's quite urgent you see...
I don't know him. 's he in support?
No. Well. I'm not sure. In 'Bonds' I think... Haven't you got a directory or something?
Sure. Yes. But I don't need it. Photographic memory, you know?
Do you remember Bob Mitchell?
No.
Isn't he in the directory? He gave me the number for reception there.
Don't know. He may be.
I thought you knew all the numbers in the directory.
I haven't met him yet, so I don't remember. I need a face to hang a number on, you know?
Oh.
Know why they call me Sim?
No. Why?
'Cause I'm a hand-sim blik-sim! Get it?
Yes. Very funny.
What's your name by the way?
Bev. Beverley.
Nice to meet you Bev Beverley. Which department? Wanna-do-coffee?
This is an outside call. I'm just looking for Bob...
Bev. Beverley. Did your parents do that as a joke? Same first name and surname? I hear there's a club you can join.
About Bob?
Mitchell – right?
Yup.
Photographic memory. Man, I'm like a sponge. Hold on, I'll check with Dave. You sure we can't do coffee sometime?
No. I just need to speak to... 

Robert Dingwe.
Shit. Shit shi... 

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. 

(Your call has been forwarded to main reception. For Enquiries, press 1 – if you know the extension number of the person you are trying to reach enter it now and press 2 followed by the hash key – for the Main Desk press 3 followed by the star key and two zeros – to hear this menu again, press 9. To leave a message, key-in the extension followed by two stars and the hash key... or hold for the first available receptionist...)

Beep-beep beep beep. 

Julie here. Hello?
I should have just held on. Three and star and zero-zero.
They haven't changed it yet. That's my extension. You want reception?
No. I want Bob Mitchell.
Don't we all darling. I don't know why though. He's a pig. But there's something about him, isn't there? Just be careful, honey – he's bound to wine you, dine you and – well you know the rest.
Actually it's about a job interview. He said I should 'phone today and set up a time.
Yes. I've used that one too, when I was with him. Don't worry, your secret's safe with me. What's your name, darling? Not Sherry from Key Accounts?
No. Um. Beverley. Chalmers. Bev.
Oh. Good. That slut from Key will do just about anyone with a promotion in his pants. She used to work here. Got promoted three times in two years. I heard it only cost her four blow-jobs, a hand job and something a bit dirty with the V.P. How about that?
I don't know. Look, can you patch me through to Bob.
(Pssst. Bob's got a new one. Bev. Something. From Human Resources I think. Hang on. I'll chat to you in a sec.)
Look. I think you've got this whole thing wrong. Maybe if you could just give me an e-mail address. I just need to set up...
Going through! 

Di da doo do dah dee.
(Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold the line or press hash followed by the extension number to leave a message. For main reception, press the star key.)
Di da doo do dah dee-dee-doo.
Dum di-di doo doo dah
(Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold ...)




You take the first elevator. Not the second. That's only for the big-wigs. The first elevator. Up to the sixth floor. Or was that the seventh? No wait. Fifth. The fifth floor. Turn right. Right again. Then go straight until you see the water-cooler. Then go left and walk till you get to Maureen. She's got red hair. No wait – she changed it, it's blond now. Anyway you'll see all the pot plants on her desk. Then go right, right again and then left. You'll see a big panel door with his name on it. Just ring the buzzer and Thuli will let you through.
Thuli?
His secretary.
Oh. Thanks. Maybe I should write your directions down...
No. No. No need. Just remember: Right. Right. Left. Right. Right. Left. Easy. It even makes a pattern.
Okay. Thanks.
My pleasure ma'am. If you hang on a sec I'll print you a visitor's card. Why'd you say you were going to Mr. Mitchell, again?
To set up an interview for next week. I tried phoning, but I got nowhere. So I decided to come...
Mmmm. 'Personal'. What? The extensions? Yes. I think they do it that way on purpose. But never mind. Theeee-ere you are.
Thank-you.
Please ensure that you have your card clipped to your person at all times and that your details are clearly visible.
There aren't any details there.
The access number's all we need.
Why?
We can scan your number from the security cameras and get all your details wherever you are in the building.
But I haven't told you all my details.
Not to worry. Imaging technology. All the Banks and Financials have everyone's details linked to photographs. I took your picture when you arrived. Ms Beverley Chalmers, right? 52 Dearborn Crescent...
You have no right... 

Thank you madam. Just go through those doors. Yes sir, my I help you? 

Maureen right?
No. Jen. Maureen's two floors up. If that's the Maureen you mean?
Oh. Sorry. I just saw the pot plants. I got horribly lost and I've been wandering around for about twenty minutes. Security said I should look for Maureen with pot plants.
Yes. A complete idiot of course. They are supposed to learn the lay-out of the building and who goes where before they're allowed to start. Like taxi drivers in London and New York. And then every three months they have to re-train after the re-shuffles. It isn't so difficult really. You just have to have that kind of brain.
I don't suppose you could walk me to...
No no dear. I'm far too busy. Let me ring up and call Maureen – I'm sure she'll come down. Who shall I say is here?
Actually I don't need to see Maureen. I need to get to Thuli. And then Bob. Bob Mitchell.
But you said Maureen. She's a good friend. Won't take kindly to being messed around, I can tell you.
Please I just need to get to Thuli. Er. Mr. Mitchell. Maureen was a way-point to his office. Right. Right. Left. Right. Right. Left. Easy.
But Bob Mitchell's one floor down.
Oh never mind. 

Ding-a-ling-a-ling-ding ding ding-ding doo dah.
This is Tribank International Radio reminding you that happy staff are productive staff – so put a smile on that dial – and remember, the customer always comes first! And now back to the soothing sounds of Panpipe ABBA!
Doo doo-doo doo doo doo-doo.


// 

Excuse me.
Yes.
I've been wandering around for about an hour-and-a-half now. I was wondering if I could borrow that paper-weight for just a second.
Sure. Here you go. Is there something I can help you with?
Not likely. Tell me. That emergency fire box. You just smash the glass and grab, right?
Right. But...
Thanks. Thanks a lot. 

/// 

Security notice: Attention all staff

Due to the recent escalation of unauthorised persons meandering around the building and the recent spate of violent de-capitations, we have been authorized to issue new seven-digit extension numbers and limit access to the building. All visitors will now be required to have a security clearance pass (arranged two weeks prior to visiting date – not including week-ends) and are subject to a body-cavity search upon entering the building.

The code 'Bob Mitchell', previously used to rid the building of undesirables will now be replaced by the code name 'Derrick Matshwa'.

Please adhere strictly to these rules. We do not want another episode such as the one that caused so much bad publicity last week. We have a responsibility to our clients and to our co-workers (not to mention our share-holders) to ensure that no further unauthorised persons go on bloody rampages with the emergency fire axe. We were fortunate that only six died this time.

Please also note that all fire-axes will be removed from their housings with immediate effect. Should an emergency occur, please follow the following procedure:

On your telephone, key in the following:

HASH, STAR, YOUR SEVEN-DIGIT-EXTENSION NUMBER, THE EXTENSION FOR THE SECURITY DEPARTMENT, STAR, YOUR SEVEN-DIGIT EXTENSION AGAIN AND THEN THE NINE DIGIT CODE DESCRIBING THE NATURE OF THE EMERGENCY, FOLLOWED BY THE HASH KEY.

Please note that the emergency codes will be changed every Tuesday morning – Security's extension on alternating Wednesday afternoons – and each staff-member's code will be altered on every third Friday evening.

Many thanks
Derrick Matshwa
Security


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