Jeffw's Blog

Get OUT of my pub!

Just joking, WELCOME! Here, you'll find some short fiction stories, anecdotes and my possible grumpy opinion on pretty much everything and anything. As you didn't in the slightest asked for it and because I can be magnanimous, I'll try to wrap it all in a clever cocktail of sarcastic witticism and stylish dark humour of the latest fashion, under the icy sophistication of which, you'll discern my true cry of despair to witness our world going to pot... or maybe it's just something I ate.
Don't hesitate to leave a comment! Thanks you, come again.

Caution MAY CONTAIN STRONG LANGUAGE AND HAZARDOUS PUNCTUATION... and with a bit of luck, some English too.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Ignorantus Travelicum

   This was written almost seven years ago and is all true.
It was brought back to my mind by a recent conversation I had with a friend, of which the conclusion was: “I would more gladly excuse profound stupidity than ignorance, as, if you choose to do so, ignorance is curable.”

I have a new best friend. She makes me laugh!
I don't even know her name...

I met her yesterday when I was going to enquire about the different means at my disposal to, from the country of the Lambs and Leeks, go to say hello to the “vahines”. I'll explain: For our honeymoon trip, I would like to take my beloved to Bora-Bora but, as it isn't a very popular destination from the British Isles, even with the Tinterweb, I struggled to find any clear information.
Therefore, with a nonchalant gait, I never the less drove – it's about 10 miles away! – to the closest Agency for Travelling.
It was when I was pushing the door of the humble store of the second biggest British purveyor of exotic scented dreams – my muscles bulging under the light material of my little blue summer dress, the one I like to wear on Thursdays, the one with the very cute print there – that I saw her for the first time.

To say that she looked average would be to pay her a compliment. Her forties come and gone, she had a face wrinkled by the expression of eternal surprise of the simpleton, with tired hair sporting a do that could have been fashionable back in the 80s, in the region of Holdrege (Nebraska), and two long and scrawny arms. Despite this, she was radiating experience behind her small orange counter, which is an effect relatively easy to achieve when you are the eldest of twenty years of any of your colleague and have a pale complexion, perfect to reflect the orange colour. So, I was walking towards the ugly woman (at that moment of the story, she's not yet my friend) when she spoke to me along this line:
“Hello, can I help you?”
… I understand your surprise, I too was astonished.
She had said 'hello'! In the United-Kingdom?! The proverbial Albion wouldn't be as perfidious as one might think?

Sorry. Let's start again.

Her: “Hello, can I help you?
Me: Hello, and you most certainly can. I would like to go to French Polynesia, departing from here, or from London, which ever is simpler. Could you find the information for me please?
Her: er... like we may have a problem here, because, as for us, we don't do them, the train bookings.

Me: Even better! The French Polynesia is situated in the South Pacific and I was favouring the idea of taking a plane.
Her: Oh sorry, I thought you said “Pyrenees”.
Me: No, Polynesia.
Her: Not the Pyrenees then?
Me: No.
Her: Gosh.
Me: Quite.”
I was starting to like her a lot, that lady. I carried on with the usual platitudes of this kind of conversation, with a renewed interest and a gently amused curiosity. Where exactly? Bora-Bora. How many people? Two. When? In six months time.
And we resumed our verbal tango:
Her: “Like, I can't find any international airport in Bora-Bora me...
Me: It's normal, there isn't one. The closest is in Tahiti.
Her: Well... Like I can't find any either... I know, I'm going to call the people of the planes.”
Then she told me that it might take a while and that if I had something else to do in town, I could maybe pop in later... What?! Our newly born and fragile friendship just blossomed that she was already rejecting me? With a torn heart and a heavy soul, I got up from my seat, ready to return to the street and its anonymity, where no-one would make me laugh for at least five minutes.
I suddenly pulled myself together.
Was this a way to treat an 'almost' friend? No.
I had to have faith in her professionalism and trust her expertise. Yes. I will comeback later. And yes, this woman will have all the answers. The cost, the flights, the dates, why you should never put the milk before the boiling water, the hotel, all of it!
I took advantage of my free time to sneak in a nearby similar agency where I found all the answers I needed (but not the milk/hot water one) in five minutes. Then, after a few purchases, as I couldn't stand it any longer, I went back to see my friend who I already missed.
Her: “Ah! I couldn't speak to the people of the planes but I have some information for you.
Me: Wonderful.
Her: So, for the flight, it should cost £1056.64.
Me: But that's fantastic!
Her: Isn't it just? I thought that too.
Me: Per person?
Her: No no, for the both of you.”
What a surprise! The nearest quote I got was of £1500 per person. What a bargain? I knew that this woman was gifted!
Me: “This is really amazing!
Her: But be careful though, this is just the price for the flight from London-Heathrow to Haïti like.
Me: ...
Me: You mean Tahiti?”
And then, with the most imperturbable smile and without any trace of embarrassment, she replied:
“Why? Is there a difference?”

After the brief explanation that “yes, there was a little one, like: they're not in the same ocean/sea", I assured her to return very soon in her small shop, to enjoy her amicable company again.
Then, I left, smuggish, feeling at ease in my own skin and comfortable in my knowledge of geography.

I think I'll go back tomorrow.
I tell you, she is my new best friend.
She makes me laugh!

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