Jaqui's Daily Blog

A Confrontation Over The Telephone

Some people love nothing better than a good argument. I am not one of them.


Mr B, it must be said, has been known to relish a good honest confrontation, mentally rolling his sleeves up as he prepares to do battle with the Powers That Be. Me? I am of the Peaceable Variety.


My children, though all grown-up now, would probably agree that I was a relatively Mild Mannered Mamma. They will, however, doubtless remember the time I ranted and raved at the bus driver who castigated my Foursome for drumming their heels on the floor when sitting in the front seat of the top deck (the ideal position for pretending you are the driver). My unexpected temper was not because he told them off (the drumming of heels above his head must have been rather annoying) but because he swore at them. Nobody, but nobody, could be allowed to get away with that in my book.


The fact that they may well remember the incident, so many years on, shows it was out of the ordinary to see me lose my temper so completely. "You were shaking and your voice was all quivery," the Youngest of the Darling Daughters reminded me once, in an admiring tone of voice. She couldn't, of course, recall what had prompted the bus driver's rebuke and my uncharacteristic reaction.


What I really hate about losing my temper - and why I do my best to avoid it at all costs - is how it makes me feel afterwards. I never feel self-satisfied, just cross with myself for succumbing to my baser instincts which is, of course, yet another reason for feeling cross with whoever it was who stoked my fire.


Talking of fires, and conflagrations of the hot-tempered variety, this afternoon saw the latest instalment in the Sorry Saga of British Gas and Our New Boiler. It will never win the Man Booker Prize. Just to recap, regular readers will (possibly, or, equally possibly not) remember that Mr B and I were persuaded by the British Gas engineer who came to service our gas fire and boiler, that it would be in our very best interests to replace our boiler which, though a Trusty Servant of Long Standing was now considered more or less obsolete, so that it was no longer possible to obtain spare parts if something went wrong. Just think if we found ourselves without heating in the middle of the winter? It didn't bear thinking about, we agreed.


Except that since our new boiler has been fitted it has stopped working at least once a day, sometimes twice. We have been re-setting it, having been shown how to do this by the engineer who came out to us the first time it happened but the last straw was returning home from a weekend away to an Ice House. Enough was enough, we told ourselves, so this morning I phoned British Gas and booked a callout for tomorrow morning. The woman on the other end of the telephone was matter of fact and not particularly sympathetic to our plight but she did book us in so I decided not to take it personally. It must become so very wearing after a week of taking calls from dissatisfied customers. Thank goodness it's Friday, I expect she was thinking. Or words to that effect.


Then this afternoon, another call from British Gas. Could he book in a service for our gas fire? the over cheerful chappie on the other end of the line asked me. And the boiler? I asked him, explaining briefly what had been happening. After consulting his records, he informed me that there was no mention of a boiler. Had I forgotten to inform them that we had changed our boiler, he said combatively. I stayed as calm as I could, as I pointed out that British Gas had installed our new boiler so should, presumably, know all about it. Mr British Gas, in an irritatingly patronising tone, suggested I ring Customer Services to discuss this peculiar situation with them.


The heat was rising, especially given that Mr B was, by this time, bellowing instructions at me on the way I should handle our caller. By wringing his neck, metaphorically speaking, as far as I could tell. Couldn't he ask Customer Services to ring us instead, I suggested, bearing in mind that it appeared the mistake was at their end? After a conflab with a colleague, my caller said he would be willing to transfer me - but I would be in a long queue and would probably have to wait to be answered for a quarter of an hour or more. Life is too short, I wanted to tell him.


After all that, it turned out that he had jumped the gun somewhat as far as our servicing needs were concerned. Our fire won't need attention until June. Perhaps I would like to book on-line, our caller suggested optimistically. I guess he didn't want to have to be the one to call us again. As for the boiler, well, as it didn't exist according to his records, it couldn't be serviced but it was still under guarantee so that was alright, wasn't it?


I think my reply may have been a bit shrill, possibly unreasonably so. Was I wrong to feel so cross? Was our caller simply unlucky to have phoned us today? Was he, perhaps, in the wrong place at the wrong time? How would you have behaved?


"Make sure you have a really good weekend now!" he signed off, insincerely. It was The Last Straw.

I had to resort to the comfort of my knitting to calm myself down. It wasn't until I had knitted my way through two sets of rabbit's ears (strange, but true) that I felt myself relaxing.

Oh, British Gas, you have such a lot to answer for! I pity the poor engineer who is booked to call on us between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. tomorrow. I will do my very, very best to keep cool, calm and collected but, just in case, I hope he has been warned...

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Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

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