Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Can you see the bag lady walking the streets of London?

Some years ago, I worked in a large office block in Central London ; A soul-destroying building with acres of cubicles.  I had many strange colleagues though I’m sure that they could have made the same claim!  But one female worker stood out among them.  She was a less than pleasant individual who arrived every day carrying a really large gym bag.  It was the sort of receptacle that you’d see a basketball-playing giant with a penchant for outsized things might be seen carrying his sweats in.  Her amble girth was enough of a giveaway that the bag did not carry her gym gear.  In fact, many of her colleagues speculated why she needed such a large and obviously empty bag.  

Being in my youth and partaking of London’s ample nightlife, I struggled to get in to work before 10 most weekdays and so was obliged to burn the midnight hours “making up” sufficient flexitime to allow me to take every third Friday off in lieu.  My bag-welding companion also kept similar anti-social hours – though for less obvious social reasons.  I think she’d be waiting for me to leave but invariably would give up about 10 minutes before I’d clock out.  Every evening she left with the same bag albeit obviously quite full.  

One of the reasons that the office was so soul-destroying was because you couldn’t put a stapler down without it going missing.  I used to have to tour regularly the major hotel conference centres in the locality picking up freebie pens for the stationery cupboard.  We also had a major problem with no loo-rolls, soap or handle towels in the ladies toilets.  Our male companions revealed similar sanitary supply issues.

Concerned at our escalating consumables spend, senior management put the squeeze on the security staff who come to view the girls on the floor as mule packs in some high level smuggling racquet.  Following an embarrassing altercation involving our new Human Resource Director on his first day, the security staff were prohibited from randomly searching our bags.  This led to more frustration on the part of the security men who began to despise our very existence.

Not once, did anyone but two and two together and finger our larcenous bag lady.  It would’nt have taken CSI Miami to prove beyond reasonable doubt the culprit.  I even did some covert investigations myself – checking the loos minutes before and after she left in the evening.  And low, our loo stocks were rapidly depleted in the five minute interval between spot checks.  

At this point I stopped sweating the small stuff.  I considered that Ffitch & Pfieper were not paying me enough to take on these additional crime scene investigation responsibilities as well as my own work.  I left that hell hole for completely unrelated reasons some time later and managed to survive the exit interview without spilling my superstitions to the still traumatised HR Manager.  To the best of my knowledge, the silent pilferer continued her blatant theft.  And I departed reassured that my former colleagues would have to reappraise their view of that “Irish girl” as the prime suspect.    


Blogger JL Pagano said...

Unless they had supply cupboards full of Semtex, I doubt you would have necessarily been the prime suspect ;-)

Great post nonetheless.

8:09 a.m., January 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely story. You are such a kind person.
Where is she now? I wonder. These behaviour tend to escalate, don't they.
Perhaps she has moved on to container fraud and hired herself to the Russian mafia.
In years to come, you can point back to your blog as her first public outing.
Thanks again.

1:34 p.m., January 05, 2006  
Blogger Paige A Harrison said...

Being Irish = a suspected IRA terrorist was a given!

I'd say she is now turning off the lucrative supply line of j cloths & bleach that she developed in former Soviet bloc states in an attempt at blocking political change!

5:21 p.m., January 05, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting Add Up!
Back Brushes

11:57 a.m., March 30, 2010  

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