Stuff your RFID card, just let me through the damn door!
Otherwise I might go 'full Clarkson'
Something for the Weekend, Sir? "Never heard of them."
Well, could you look again?
"They're not on the list, sir."
Look, I was here last week. The business I am visiting today definitely exists. It's in this building. Please let me through.
[shuffling of papers] "Did you want Amalgamated Durables? No? How about Insure and Blow? Or is it one of those tech start-ups upstairs: Tendr? Mockr? Crockr? Shittr? Wankr? Arsewypr? Coksukr?"
The fat security man, sitting behind his fat desk, turns the fat sheet around for me to see. I stand on tip-toe (I'm quite short and forgot to bring my periscope with me that morning) and look through his crumpled list of businesses that currently rent offices in this overblown, half-finished central-London palace of glass, marble and tarpaulin. Sure enough, the company that has hired me for the day is not listed.
I'm about to prosecute my entry further when a circular saw starts up and begins slicing through a paving stone just outside the stiffly revolving entry doors. As I wait for the brain-jarring scream of metal slicing against stone to end, a new thought occurs to me: Oh God, they must have done a runner. Another one! This recession's a bitch.
Actually, hang on, that can't be right. It's a PITB (Def: British English for PITA; see 'bottoms' and 'English humour') that I booked what would turn out to be the warmest and sunniest day of the year so far to be holed up in a carpet-tiled and venetian-blinded dungeon in Covent Garden when I could be sunning myself in my own back garden, but I haven't actually done any work for them yet. Usually my clients go bankrupt or get hauled before the fraud courts or vanish to a gangster poolside property in the south of Spain without paying only after I've completed my part of the deal.
By the time the noise outside subsides, the security man has grown tired of looking at me. I am making his desk look untidy by standing in front of it. Without another word, he hands me a generic visitor pass in a plastic lapel-clip wallet and gestures for me to head through some frosted glass doors behind him.
I step through to find myself standing in front of another reception desk, which naturally makes me wonder what the first one was for. Perhaps this is the second of a progressive series of themed reception desks. A few more of these and I might reach the boss, and if I can defeat him, hopefully I can move up to the next level with a couple of extra lives and power-ups under my belt.
This desk is a mere breakfast-bar of a frontier between his kingdom of authority and my domain of wildlings, and it is staffed by an appropriately skinny young Lannister with swishy blond hair, who greets me with a serene smile and bobbing adam's apple.
I step forward to speak: Are you the gatekeeper? With not so much as a flicker of an eyelash, his smile undiminished, he fires back: "Are you the keymaster?"
I show him my ID. I show him my emails. I count backwards from 20. I swear by the Old Gods and the New.
Before I have even finished pronouncing the name of the company I had been hoping would foot the bill of the new camera I'd bought at the weekend, he is handing me a bunch of master keys and an electronic door pass. Apparently, I was expected after all.
He directs me back out to the main entrance hall and to a door to the left of the fat security man with his out-of-date list of the office building's tenants. I hadn't noticed earlier but next to the door is a sign bearing the name of my employer for the next eight hours. As I walk past, fat man watches me under half-closed eyelids. I suspect a construction worker installed the sign while I was at second reception. "Never heard of them," my arse.
The door lock is controlled by an RFID sensor with a bright red LED. I wave my door pass in front of it. Unfortunately, the lanyard is shorter than I am accustomed to and I instinctively duck forward so that the card will reach the reader.
In doing so, I headbutt the wall with a loud crack.
I remove the card at the clip and hold it before the red LED. It is still red. So is my forehead. Without realising it, I begin doing those idiotic things that people do when RFID cards fail to register: I waggle the card around, I flap it a few times against the reader and – to my enduring professional shame – I even TURN THE CARD OVER and try again.
As I make my way back to Reception 2 (The Sequel), fat man watching me every step of the way. By now, the workman outside with the circular saw is having a smoke so I have to walk across the floor in near-silence, the only sound being my Oxfords clacking against the fake polished marble, like Rachel meeting Deckard for the first time. Nice owl.
Blonde boy issues me with a new pass. This one works. Sorted. Calm down, deep breaths.