Tempting though it may be to shout a lot and chuck your toys out of the pram, this will rarely achieve results. Better to keep your cool. My friends all know that when I get icily polite, it’s time they were hull-down over the horizon.

However, sometimes even keeping calm won’t always work, especially if you come upon official pigheaded obduracy. I know.

The other evening I got home, and the electronic keyfob failed to activate the lock to get me into the building. This has happened before, but I simply hit the intercom button for ‘Manager’, explained what had happened, answered a couple of questions about myself, and Bingo! Things did not go quite as well this time round.

I rang the manager, and the speaker crackled into life. Sort of. The voice at the other end faded sporadically. Brits with long memories may wish to think ‘Colin Crompton’ but underwater. I leaned in and said, ‘I’m very sorry but I can’t hear you very well. You keep fading out.’

‘This is the manager. How can I help?’

I explained my keyfob wasn’t functioning.

‘Are you trying the right door?’

I bridled a bit at this.

‘I’ve lived here three and a half years, so yes, I think I know the right door by now.’

‘Oh. What do you want me to do?’

‘Activate the lock.’

It was like talking to a small child.

‘I can’t do that.’

‘Why not? It’s happened before, they asked me some questions to make sure it was me, and let me in. I’ve got my key, I can get into my flat.’

‘I can’t do that.’

‘Then exactly what do you suggest?’

‘Can’t you call one of your friends there and ask them to open the lock for you?’

‘I may have lived here for all that time, but I keep myself to myself, only have nodding acquaintances, and certainly don’t know their flat numbers.’

‘Oh. Then I really can’t help you.’

‘Be reasonable. You could ask me a question only I would know the answer to. Like who I have given as my primary contact should anything happen to me. Nobody else knows that.’

‘I’m sorry, I can’t do that.’

‘OK, I’ll just go and find a bus shelter for the night, shall I*? Goodbye.’

I didn’t mind that my correspondent was being security conscious. There are some pretty vulnerable people in the block. A bit of common sense wouldn’t have gone amiss though.

* As it happens, that wasn’t necessary, because I found my spare key and fob in another pocket. Lackaday.

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