Friday, October 13, 2006

My Lucky Day!

Happy Friday the 13th. I would like to preface this article by saying that I do not advocate, nor endorse, luck, tarrot readings, charms, superstitions, voodoo, santaria, obia, root working, ju-ju, curses, possession, exorcism, magic, clairvoyance, devil worship, druidism, or divorce. I had an appointment, today, at the Job Centre Plus, in Slough, regarding straightening out a problem with my National Insurance Number. I made the appointment about a month ago. I asked for the latest appointment in the day, as I was hoping I wouldn't need to take off an entire day from work. The latest time they could give me was 3PM.
I had previously arranged to leave work early, today, at 2:30PM, giving me half an hour to drive to Slough. Yesterday, when I got home from work, there was a message from the Slough Job Centre Plus, saying that they couldn't honor my appointment and directing me to come earlier in the day. I called back and explained that it wasn't possible for me to come earlier. I didn't think it was fair to phone me the day before, so that there was no time for me to make any other arrangements at work. Reluctantly, the woman on the phone agreed to honor my original appointment, but only if I was there on time.
At work, today, I tried to impress upon the supervisory personnel left in charge that I must leave promptly at 2:30. Of course, that didn't happen. They refused to sign my time sheet ahead of time, so I could leave immediately. Instead, I had to wait till 2:30PM, then get it signed. Then, the supervisor kept me working till 2:34PM, so I wasn't on the road till 2:38. Of course, I encountered a lot of slow traffic, on the roads. Many people out in the middle of the day seem to drive leisurely, like they aren't in a hurry to go anywhere. When I reached the outskirts of Slough, traffic slowed to bumper to bumper.
I accidentally ended up in a right turn only lane, when I wanted to go straight. The traffic was so heavy to the left, that I wasn't able to get out of the lane before the right turn arrow lit up. So, I made the right turn, then made the first left I could, hoping to parallel the road I was previously on. Unfortunately, I ended up on a dead end road. As an aside, when I drove down this dead end road, it looked like I had taken a wrong turn and ended up in Pakistan. Every person I could see seemed to be dressed in traditional Pakistani clothes. I had heard that there were a lot of "Asian" people in Slough, but I had never been to this part of the town before and have never seen anything like this. Were so many on the street because it's Ramadan and Friday, the Muslim Sabbath? I happen to find a lot of Pakistani women very attractive, but there were head scarves everywhere I looked. By then, it was well past 3PM. The woman on the phone had said she would only see me if I showed up on time. Should I continue, or just give up and head home? I decided to press on.
After extricating myself from the dead end and circling around to avoid stopped traffic, I decided to parallel my original route, via a main road, this time. This got me past the traffic jam and I finally found my destination. Where to park? It took me another five minutes to find a parking place, then five minutes to walk to the Job Centre from there. By the time I walked in, it was about 3:28PM. I fully expected to be told I wouldn't be seen, as I was seriously late. The guard told me to have a seat, while he went and spoke to someone. Then an attractive Asian woman walked over with my appoitment letter in her hand. How do you tell an Indian woman from a Pakistani woman? This isn't a joke, I would really like to know. She informed me I was late. This I knew already. She then asked me why I was late. What's the point of this? I was tired and frustrated. I said, "what difference does it make? It took me longer to get here than I anticipated. You'll either see me, or you won't."
To my surprise, she said that given that I had come so far and was here already, she would see me. Now, I don't believe in luck and I am fond of saying that if I had any luck at all, it would be bad luck. I also say 13 is my favorite number, as it's considered unlucky by so many. I like flying in the face of superstition. In any case, things had worked out for me, this time. I followed her to her desk and sat down. I started feeling a little bad for being so impatient with her, earlier. I thanked her profusely for seeing me, despite my lateness. She said I was "lucky," as any of the other staff would have turned me away, but she's a part-timer and hates seeing people sent away when they have traveled so far.
I started being a bit flirtsy and humorous, to make up for earlier. Data acquisition algorithms were in full effect. I spied what looked like a possible wedding band on the left hand. I also saw that she had what looked like drawings all over her hands, both the palms and the backs. I had seen this before, on the Nepalese gal at work, whom I refer to as "the Princess." I asked the woman what they were. She said "we" do it when fasting for the benefit of our husbands. Huh? We who? She then told me it was a Hindu thing. The writing was in henna and was temporary. I had confirmed that she does have a husband. Oh well, at least I got to get my business there done. She seemed to have the best attitude of anyone I have had to deal with, so far, in any Job Centre office. She told me the reason for their attempt to get me to come early. They were short staffed. As many schools are breaking up, today, for the October School half-term holiday, I suspect that many of the staff were starting their weekend early. That's not my problem. This gal had stayed later than she was scheduled to try and get things done. She is the only one of these Job Centre types to actually think about the customer, for a change. When we were finished, I thanked her again, wished her well, and left for Beautiful Bracknell.


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