My Valentines day was not without event and not in a good way. No there wasnt a stampede of florists beating a path to my door and no I didn’t have a hot date with a gorgeous male model with a six pack and a rose clenched between his cheeks!!! I did get some virtual roses from a Toyboy that works abroad and a nice message but I do have a weakness for the sort you put in a vase.

I work in a shop front office in a street that is typical of the old style Employment Agency. In the good old days the shop front with its window display of new and exciting jobs and a big sign saying come this way was supposed to attract potential candidates off the street and into our ruthless arms.

Open Door ? Not Anymore

Good placable candidates were hard to find in those days and jobs were in abundance..yes I said abundance. Each branch would have a number of interviewers and we would all leap up and fight over the poor shy candidate who had shuffled in the door. The competitiveness between us was fierce after all each person represented pounds signs! Commission was the watch word and if you didn’t perform you were out. No process or warnings or work records just “Your Crap” bye!

The word CV didn’t exist and the great british public came in raw and nervous and getting them a job was all down to our skills as interviewers and sales people. A few phone calls and bigging them up and off they went on interviews. Not a first interview or a second or an assessment or a psychometric test. Just one humble bloody interview and a few hours later Kerching! they were offered the job and we had made some money.

But of course these days we rarely interview people face to face. We do most of it over the net and traffic through our door is a rarity. Advertising is now on the web and our window display is rendered next to useless. Most Mondays I am faced with the gruelling task of screening at least two hundred cvs. People apply from all over the world and the country for jobs paying £15k. Why why ? by lunchtime I am banging my head on the desk and the six or seven CVs that are worth a call are in a neat pile in front of me saving me from bruising.

But then as now we have our supply of local nutters that wander in off the street to waste our time bore us to death and more often than not leave the office smelling like the council toilets. We used to keep room freshner close by for when we have managed to get them out and fumigation is required.

There was carrier bag man who used to come in clutching  a Waitrose or Tesco bag and stutter his requirements with a wild look in his eye. Brief case man who had a large oversized brief case that looked so heavy it was probably full of bricks and he carried it everywhere.

More recently oversized man with a stomach so huge it enters the door before him and his shoulder length graying hair flows in behind him. He can talk a donkeys hind leg off and often mentions Einstein in his conversation and woe betide you if he pulls up a chair and attempts to sit. It’s a sharp intake of breath moment as you wait to see if the chair will take his weight and then another when he tries to stand up ..will he get stuck ? and all this whilst holding your breath because the man obviously cannot wash his bits that are hidden under rolls of fat and he Stinks!

Last time he came in I had to cut him short and he left with a flee in his ear to be fair the flee was probably already in the unwashed mane but I had had enough. I am compassionate but it is not my job to provide  warmth and comfort to half the residents of the local mental home. There is obviously one such home on our street recently opened. Of late we have seen an influx of what can only be described as people with special needs. I feel sorry for these people but they do all seem to be in one place and finding their way in our door so for our own safety we have had to stop our open door policy . Our door is now locked at all times.Its a bloody nuisance and inconvenient but had to be done and all because of Joseph.

Joseph arrived on our street some months ago. He is a distinctive figure tall with a lopping walk and first got in our office last year. He doesn’t make a lot of sense is obviously not well and its very sad. He is obsessed with paper and demands it. It’s hard to make him understand and if you give him some he just wants more. He has stolen newspapers from all the local shops and usually posts them through the post box. His trousers are always in danger of falling down and the refusal to leave and lack of comprehension can make him intimidating.

Once he had got in our office he kept coming back in the end we locked ourselves in and ignored his door banging. One afternoon he was so persistent we put the shutters down and sat working in virtual darkness. I made various phone calls and eventually had a visit from the local care in the community people ha! who apologised and said that he wasnt supposed to be out with out his carers but was harmless!!!. We got a phone number to call in the event but continued to lock the door.

He still manages to escape and I have seen him in the local pub annoying customers until they get him out. He is now well-known on the street and not in a good way. So on Valentines Day I was in the office on my own as Chloe was spending a romantic day with her BF Ahh!. I needed to get some lunch and having spotted Joseph loose earlier I had been very careful to keep the door locked .

Returning from the co-op laden with stuff I unlocked the door and going in to lay it all on my desk I turned back to the door but wasnt quick enough. He was in the door in a split second. Feeling very vulnerable as I was on my own I made it quite clear he wasnt t welcome but he kept asking for money. I said I had none but he persisted. I gave him some toffee which he took and then demanded paper. Usually this will get rid of him So I went to get some but he still stayed and in the end I was very firm with him and told him to leave opening the door wide. It wasnt till he had left and the door was firmly locked that I realised my purse was gone!’.

Great! now being my purse there wasnt much in it a few pence and gratefully my debit card was elsewhere. But my nice leather purse and all my store points cards were now gone. I phoned the number I had been given and alerted the carers. One of them came to see me and gave me £20 to buy a new purse and informed me that Joseph had been recaptured and was in fact suffering from schizophrenia. I was alarmed by this and telling the carer that I noticed the smell of drink on Joseph’s breath he told me that he shouldnt be drinking as he was on medication. He also told me that he climbed out of windows over fences and did anything to escape.

Surely he should be kept in a secure unit. I mean should we have to subjected to this harassment when we are trying to work ?. I called two passing policemen in and they left a number in case I need them. But this care in the community thing sucks!!! What about care of the community!

So feeling somewhat shaken and rather depressed by the whole thing I went home to try to liven myself up for a girls night out. inevitably I got as drunk as a skunk and had a lively debate with my girlfriends about the merits of men and the latest TOWIE episode. With no recollection of how I got home I realised that yet again I has forgotten to eat the events of the day having dulled my appetite. I then threw up.

The next day at my desk feeling dreadful I was terrified to see Joseph outside the locked door I then realised that he was with someone. We let them in and a new carer this time apologised yet again for the theft and made Joseph say sorry. He admitted that he had taken my purse and put it in the bin. I was then placed in the awkward position of having to accept a bunch of flowers from him. It was a nice gesture I suppose and at least I had something to put in a vase after all. But when the carer told Joseph that he was not to come in our office again and that they had to leave he got stroppy and said that I hadn’t given him enough paper!

I am not convinced that these people have the measure of this mans illness and I for one will be taking no chances and our welcome mat has now been withdrawn on a permanent basis and the door will be locked at all times! Sad how things have changed.


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