I have many talents. My people skills are not necessarily the better of my talents. Almost without exception, people annoy me.
People I work with understand this because I tell them, and once they get to know me they realise it is, ahem, part of my overall charm. People who are our ‘customers’ I am able to hide my complete disdain from and so enter into a good relationship with.
Indeed, the longer term clients and people I work with sometimes conspire together to trick me into an anti-people rant. In recent months this has centred on the crack-heads who keep popping into our yard to shoot-up or urinate or vomit, and then sit on our wall nursing their cans of Special Brew having extremely loud conversations.
Our security guard got stabbed with a needle by one of them, accidentally, and is awaiting his HIV test results. It would be fair to say he’s not happy, and so now refuses to get off his arse to go out to ask them to move on.
In total there are probably about 25 different crack-heads, but they usually muster in groups of three or four at a time.
So, it’s now come down to me to go out and try to move them on.
Now, my people skills and tolerance of these pointless kinds of people mix to give me instant mental anguish, much to the delight of my co-workers. The building we inhabit is completely covered in CCTV cameras. Not a centimetre is unseen, most is caught on at least two cameras, sometimes three. Live pictures of everything around our building flicker away on large screens within our office. Everybody can see them.
This means that I am constantly hearing, “Hey, Chrissie, they’ve on the wall again,” from whoever wants to start me off. Instantly my head flicks up, my eyes look to the screens and my involuntary ‘grunt-sigh’ and growl cause the all round titters and sniggering.
I grab one of the walkie-talkies (for some reason I feel secure holding one, even though nobody would come to my rescue were I to scream for assistance via it) and storm down the stairs and round to where the junkies sit. By now they are usually really annoying me. Were my walkie-talkie a portable ‘Delete’ button, I would happily use it to remove all trace of this scum.
The first time I ever approached them, the female one instantly started her jaw-jaw about how they were just going but had rested to get a stone out of a shoe or something, and one of the more puke smelling males starting mumbling aggressively and calling me names.
For reasons that escaped me I found myself saying, “Listen. I don’t want you to go for 10 minutes. Just stay for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes I need you to leave, but I’m happy to have you stay for 10 minutes, no problem. For 10 minutes everything is fine. Then you must go away because this is private property, you’re on CCTV and the police can come and move you on. You can come back tomorrow, but don’t stay more than 10 minutes tomorrow. And please, don’t come into the yard for a piss, OK?”
Where the hell did this whole ’10 minutes’ thing come from?
Without waiting for any discussion, I turned and walked away, half expecting to feel a can hit my head or some such thing. From my desk I watched them carry on doing whatever it was they were doing, waited 10 minutes and then went back.
“Ok, the 10 minutes is up, you have to go now!” I said, expecting to be knifed for my troubles, but the gaunt looking female one did her motor-mouth blessing me and thanking me and encouraged the others to get up and go. They did.
For some odd reason, giving them 10 minutes seemed to work compared to the running battle they used to have with the security guard’s more conventional, “Fuck off the lot of you”. Why my 10 minute speech worked, I know not.
A bit later on I did exactly the same thing to another set of crack-heads. There was no resistance. Then, later I went out to a third set.
Before I could speak, one of them said, “Yes, sir, we know, just 10 minutes.” My 10 minute rule was getting spread around. I was polite and thanked them, explaining I’d be out after the 10 minutes was up, and reminding them they were on CCTV.
After the 10 minutes was up, I started to walk towards them, but before I got to them, they got up, waved a thanks and shuffled on without me having to say anything. Result.
Over the next few days I think most of the total number of crack-heads had spent their 10 minutes on our wall. All of them seemed to wait until I appeared and would then shuffle off without complaint.
I didn’t need to do the initial chat any more. I would wait for 10 minutes and then go down and say their 10 minutes were up. Generally speaking they were polite and got ready to move as soon as they saw me. Yes, I’d still be seething. Still wishing I could just ‘delete’ them. Still hating that they existed. Still not wanting to not have to make this tedious journey.
However, on the bright side, the net result is that the wall is occupied for far less time than it was before, and the associated smells, dirt and rubbish have greatly decreased, and for some reason, I seem to have set something in motion that has gained me the respect of crack-heads.
Not the best claim to fame, but it’ll do for now.