We had two contrasting customers in today. One was caught stealing a coin. He palmed it and slipped it in his pocket. The owner was serving him. My co-worker went through to say hello, as we hadn’t seen him since before the first lockdown, and spotted the the theft.
He is now banned from the shop, and we are wondering how much he took in previous visits. When you have so many individual items about it is difficult to spot when things go missing unless they are very obvious. He was banned from the Birmingham Coin Fair years ago after being caught stealing, but the owner gave him the benefit of the doubt. It seems not to have paid off.
The next customer brought us ice creams,because he knows the shop is like an oven in summer. The part of the front room within 6-10 feet of the air conditioning vent is OK but the rest can be fairly unpleasant and the back rooms are very stuffy. We could open the back door.There is a grille on it and security would not be compromised, but the alarm can be tricky to reset so it’s easier not to mess with it.
After ice cream I went home and made a conscious effort not to go on the computer. I have tendency to switch on as soon as I get home and it can soon swallow up several hours without producing much benefit. Over the years I have turned into a browser of trivia when I really meant to turn into a producer of Great Literature. That is what happens when you allow yourself to drift. If I’d taken more control of my life I could have become a leader of men instead of a shop assistant.
I watched TV, I ate the curry that Julia had made. I watched The Great British Sewing Bee. Then, having listed the jobs I needed to do, I fell asleep. When I awoke it was too late to finish the shopping and when it arrives there will be no bread. More annoyingly, because I have failed to make it to the minimum order level, I will have to pay a £4 surcharge.
The moral is clear – order earlier. The secondary moral is that it doesn’t matter. We can buy bread seperately and £4 isn’t enough to worry about, It’s annoying but it won’t break me.
It wasn’t the only blot on my copybook, I failed to post a second time, as I intended. Then, having dragged myself from my sleep at 1 am I proceeded to make sandwiches and after that, foolishly, sat down for a few minutes at the computer. Over an hour passed. I am closer to completing some submissions (everything seems to be dragging at the moment) but I am also late to bed, which will mean more sleep-based problems tomorrow.
Dream sequence of a clock, hands turning quickly…
Fourteen hours later. I am in trouble for passing the boss a phone call which I could have handled.
Stephen Hawking 50p
“I’ve already had a dozen like it,” I said, “and if I hadn’t passed it over to you I’d have ben rude to him.”
“I was rude to him.”
“Yes,” I said, “but I’m paid to be polite and I have reached breaking point.”
I then had another dozen, but that one pass saved my manners and the day passed off without incident. It was close though. I don’t know why people think a coin from the 1980s is of any value, or why a 50p that you can pull out of your change would be worth £6,000. If you could pull a £6,000 coin out of your change, do they think I’d be sitting in the windowless middle room of a shop answering their calls.
I don’t mind the enquiries, it’s sensible for people to ring up after seeing yet another outrageously inaccurate story in the press. It’s the ones that clearly don’t believe me that get on my nerves. I once offered a woman a selection of coins for £2.50 each. She didn’t buy them. But she did want me to buy hers for £3,000, and left the shop chuntering about me knowing nothing.
Again, did she think I’d be standing there serving her if I could buy five coins for £12.50 and turn them into £15,000. If I could make that sort of money every day I’d stay at home and employ a butler to go down to the shop and insult customers.
We don’t have heating at work. Well, we do, but we don’t have any in the room I use. The front has a so-called air-conditioning system, which blows warm air in summer and then in winter blows out warm air. I suspect that the air is the same temperature when it emerges, but feels either slightly cold or slightly warm according to the room temperature.
In the back room we have an oil-filled radiator, but that is set to stop the back room becoming damp rather than make life more bearable for the downtrodden staff.
Fortunately, I had enough sense to dress in four layers this morning, which became five layers when I added a fleece to the ensemble. I also had a coat with me, but didn’t need that. There is, as they say, no such thing as bad weather (even inside!), just inappropriate clothing.
You can tell we’ve been having a cold snap because there is ice in some of the nooks and crannies of the car that has been there since the beginning of the week. When I started the car this evening at 5.00 it was already below freezing, and I’m not sure if it had been much above that all day.
The day wasn’t too bad, but as usual on Friday, a couple of people decided to order just as I was going to the Post Office. The PO shuts at 4.30 and doesn’t open again until Monday, so I always try to get last-minute orders in the post. This does not stop me cursing the people who order late. I post them because I am professional and because I’m being paid to do it. I swear while I’m rushing to pack the parcels because I’m a miserable old git and am not a nice person.
After wiping down my work station (as I call the cluttered piece of board where I work, somebody rang me about “rare coins”. So I had to clean the phone again. Typical of my day.
At least the heated seats offered some comfort on the way home.
I just had to use my printer as a scanner – Number Two son needs copies of documents to support his bid to remain in Canada, and anything I can do to make sure he stays away from my fridge is good. However, despite owning the computer and the printer I have had to register with HP to be able to scan. I don’t know why. I just know it is very annoying, and very intrusive.
I’m afraid that there is nothing much happening either at home or at work. The only episode of any interest (and I use the term lightly) was when I packaged a parcel, only to find that the same customer had ordered something else a bit later. Because they were seperated by three other items I had not picked up on the fact. There are two things you can do when this happens (apart from swearing and declaring that customers, though necessary, are also frustrating). You can carry on and pack the second parcel, but this often results in a complaint that you could have packed it all in one and reduced the postage.
Fair comment, but they could either have done all their shopping at one time, or have sent you a message to let you know before you start packing.
Second choice is to repack the parcel. That’s what we did in this case. It involved a bigger envelope and cutting the front off the other envelope to stick to the second so that we didn’t waste the stamps. This is slightly more complicated when using padded envelopes, but it went OK and I used the rest of the old envelope instead of using bubble wrap. In the end, nothing was wasted apart from a little time and a sliver of vocabulary.
The Post Office was crowded today. It’s a long shop and the queue was out of the door. I suspect it is the last posting day for some places.
Work was work. It was neither good nor bad, though at one point it did grow a little frustrating. One customer is telling us we have charged him too much postage and packing, despite us already reducing it a lot because he has bought in bulk. I think he forgets that eBay charges us commission on the P&P too, and there is a cost to putting a parcel together.
Another want a tracking number, despite the fact he didn’t pay for a tracked postal service.
And yet another is hanging on and making excuses for not paying.
I can see some of this heading towards “lost” parcels and refunds. It strikes me that the world is becoming a less honest place and fewer and fewer people are prepared to accept responsibility for their own mistakes.
After work I went to pick a prescription up. This, for once, didn’t involve much queueing – I was able to get into the shop immediately and once the two people in front had been served my prescription was dispensed quickly and accurately. All the staff were wearing masks too, which had not been the case last time.
We had a TESCO delivery, which went well, though they insist on using the large bags that I find difficult with my arthritis.
I had an email to tell me about my Lottery win (no, I didn’t win the £10,000 a month for 30 years that I dream of. I won £5. I will invest it in more tickets. At least it’s good luck rather than bad luck.
Looks like my luck could be changing.
Then I fell asleep again and missed my midnight deadline.
Today we had eight customers and only one bothered to ring for an appointment. Even he rang before we were open and insisted on coming in at 10 am, before we were really ready for customers.
I’m going to stop answering the phone before we are open.
One of the others wasn’t even wearing a mask. When I asked him to put one on he told me he had one in the car. So I put one on the counter for him, which he ignored. However, as he was moving towards the door as he asked questions we replied and let him back out.
He had a silver Afghani wedding belt and a broken gold Rolex to sell. I looked the wedding belt up on Wikipedia, there’s a lot about Afghan jewellery but not much about the belts. It’s not really our sort of stuff.
We also try to avoid copy Rolex watches, whether broken or not. (If you’d seen him it wouldn’t have entered your mind that it was likely to be genuine either). There are a lot of narrow-faced chancers in our line, and the aura of mendacity lay heavy around him.
Chances are that if it’s a copy it isn’t gold either.
If, by any remote possibility, it is real it’s most likely stolen, and we don’t want that either.
I once bought a stolen item and it can get complicated. It was even more complicated because it was a police helmet and it had disappeared after being knocked of the wearers head in a scuffle in slab square.
It’s not unusual for used police helmets to come on the market, so it didn’t ring any alarm bells at the time. If you search “police helmets” on eBay there are 53 traditional British police helmets on the first two pages alone. That suggests there are about 300 helmets up for sale from the 600 items that come up on the search.
I was down at the hospital just after eight and left twenty five minutes later, having seen four people breach what I consider acceptable mask etiquette.
One was a staff member chatting to the woman on hygiene duty at the entrance. No mask, despite the signs. Two was a patient, with his mask pulled down to leave his nose uncovered. The benefits of masks are still debatable, but the benefits of wearing one badly are even less obvious. Third was a receptionist who emerged from the office maskless, but laden with a coffee jar and several mugs. She disappeared into a cleaning cupboard to (I assume) make coffee. They spend all that money building the place and the staff have to make coffee in the broom cupboard. Who designs these things? Finally, as I left a doctor arrived. He took a mask from the table at the entrance and just held it to his face as he walked through the building. Is that the sort of grudging use of a mask you expect from a senior member of staff? Are his ears too grand for elastic? What will he do if he needs to use that hand (the other was grasping an attache case)?
All in all, not a great endorsement for the use of masks or the common sense of the staff.
Meanwhile, back at the blood test, I was stabbed in the arm by a woman who had clearly been taught to use a bayonet rather than a needle. As pain radiated through my body I was glad to note that my arm went dead. Whether that was because she hit a nerve or because the band was tight around my arm, I don’t know. I was just glad to lose the feeling. I have had better testing sessions.
I arrived at work an hour and a half early and started packing parcels. We only had three to do and I then took the selfies I am using with this post and started cataloguing medallions of Edward VIII. Many of them are bland. Some are dull, others anodyne. And still more of them are boring, uninspired or unremarkable.
Empire Day Medal – Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII
Some are very interesting but unfortunately many are not. You will learn more, whether you want to or not, as I write my posts on collectables.
At lunchtime we had a customer call, without appointment. She was a nice lady who wore a mask. and sold us some coins her father had put to one side. Some were silver, so she walked away with nearly £50.
Then we had thin man, also with no appointment, who had a copy ancient Greek coin as sold to tourists in happier days. It was worthless and he ejected little blobs of spittle as he spoke. Several fell on my hands. I held my breath and regretted not wearing a mask.
Finally we had a collector who looked at our Saxon coins and bought one before deciding to buy himself a second-hand coin cabinet as a belated birthday treat.
It was a very mixed day.
My sister made my mask. It has a nose clip and is generally an excellent mask, fitting well and being quite comfortable in wear. It is, if I could find any fault, perhaps a mask with a pattern more suited to an aunt, or a coin dealer wanting to get in touch with his feminine side, but it is a minor point.
Julia has just made sausage and mash with carrot and parsnip mash, sprouts and onion sauce – a nice plate of comfort food for the end of a wintry day. I will load the photos and go to eat.
All in all, apart from the stabbed arm and the spittle shower, it has been an excellent day.
I was encouraging my dining room computer to greater efforts last night, because I felt it was deliberately slowing down and refusing to obey commands just to wind me up. Shouting isn’t a long term answer, we really need a new computer, but it provides some short-term relief. In this, a computer resembles a teenager, though teenagers do eventually improve. On the other hand, you can switch a computer off and it never empties your fridge.
As I paused for breath I heard Julia say: “Simon, can you stop swearing please?”
This led to our usual discussion about me and my right to freedom of speech and how it was hardly even swearing compared to some of the things I could have said and how…
“Will you **** shut up, you foul-mouthed ****!”
I’ll leave you fill in the gaps. Unlike the tabloid press I have deliberately left the words unidentifiable. If you are going to blank out the bad language I’ve never seen the point of adding the initial letter and the exact number of asterisks. You may as well just print the word. As I know my readership contains churchgoers and grandmothers I tend to be honest in admitting that my language is not good, but refrain from exposing the true depravity of my language. Too many years spent working in the company of rough men. I really should stop it, but like vegetarianism and exercise, I seldom persist in my improvements for long. Te only two things I have really ever given up have been smoking and hard work. I have not done either for over 20 years.
It seems that Julia had just been adding sound to a video she had done for work and my advice to the computer meant she was going to have to do it all again. There really are times when I realise I’ve been a bad influence on her.
Chastened, I carried on typing, but when the computer seized up again I made my displeasure obvious with the use of hand signals.
It’s a good thing that we are doing more days at work in the coming week, as lockdown is beginning to change me. First I started eating too many biscuits, then I pretended to be a bear and now I’m making offensive hand gestures at a computer.
We’ve each been in twice a week for the last two weeks to do the eBay work and answer the phone. From this week we are going in four days a week and there will be two of us in the shop each day. I will be at work tomorrow, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
In two weeks time we will start letting customers in by appointment. I spoke to someone by telephone today – he has had a queue outside all day wanting new watch batteries. A lot of watches ran out of power over the last few months.
It’s going to be a long slow recovery from lockdown.
This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
The morning had been mildly challenging. One customer wrote a note with his order asking us to pack his parcel properly. I wanted to write and thank him for his advice, finishing with the words “…because it had never occurred to me to pack the parcel properly.” However, shop policy dictates that they never let me use my first idea for a reply.
Two customers wrote in with “offers” of approximately half our asking price. I wasn’t allowed to write to them either.
Another, who is from overseas, wrote a note in English words, but used in an order which conceals the actual meaning. You have to admire his bravery in using a foreign language, and the originality with which he uses it. We think he’s asking for a discount. They are always asking for a discount.
And then we have a case of theft – an envelope of coins was delivered with a slit in the side and a complete lack of coins. It’s insured, but it has already taken over an hour of emails and insurance claims, and is going to take more time before it is all settled.
Eventually I arrived home and went to see the couple next door. They have concerns about our conifer and I have arranged to have it topped before the nesting season starts. Tomorrow it will, at what sees great expense, be shortened by about 12 feet.
This leaves the lower half to act as a windbreak and wildlife habitat.
As I left, after letting them know the plane they asked “Have you thought of taking it down completely?”
As it happens, I have. There are many reasons I’m just having the top taken out. It acts as a windbreak for my garage, and partly for the house. It is a great wildlife habitat and we usually have pigeons nesting in it. It is one of the last mature trees left round the area as all the neighbours have taken their trees down (I may return to that subject later). It’s cheaper. I can’t think what to replace it with. And, finally, it’s my bloody tree and I can do what I like with it.
People seem to hate trees in gardens these days.
Apparently it casts a lot of shade over their garden. Well, when they bought the house a few years ago it was just as big and just as shady.
I’m very disappointed in them. There are a lot of reasons, as I explained, leading to me wanting to keep the tree. And they kept repeating that it cast a lot of shade and they would be prepared to help with the cost.
They might be prepared to help with the cost of cutting it down, but what about the cost to the local wildlife?
I woke early this morning. You can probably tell that from the fact I was able to post before going to work. I woke around 4.30 after having a bad dream. I can’t tell you what it was about but it featured being trapped in tunnels and saying more risks having unwelcome Freudian interpretations forced on me.
After a trip to the bathroom went back to sleep until 5.30 when I awoke convinced that the police were about to tow my camper van away because I’d obstructed someone’s driveway by parking it round the corner from the house. This was very vivid and it was a few seconds before I realised that I didn’t have a camper van and didn’t have a corner to park anything round.
The subconscious is a weird and wonderful thing. Mainly, in my case, weird. It’s not many years since I dreamed I was a spinning top on a fairground ride and woke up to find I was in mid-air, having spun myself out of bed. To be fair, I wasn’t in mid-air for long as gravity did its part rapidly and efficiently.
Julia said: “Have you broken anything?”
I assured her I was OK.
“I meant the bedside table. I knew you’d bounce.”
And they say romance is dead…
Then there was the time I woke up screaming because the giant rat was eating my leg, only to find the “jaws” were my own hands grasping my leg.
Anyway, I popped into wakefulness again at 7.01, which is my normal weekday time (I normally allow myself to lie in until 8.00 on Saturday as I don’t have to run Julia to work). It seemed pointless to go back to sleep so I got up, had the last of the Chinese takeaway for breakfast, blogged, made my sandwiches (yes, cheese again), went to the local shop, did some long-term financial planning (or bought a lottery ticket if you prefer the unvarnished version) and turned up at work just in time to get the last parking space. For some reason everyone thinks they can park in front of the shop on Saturday, even though they are nothing to do with us.
We had quite a crowd in at one time and succeeded in getting a customer to join the Numismatic Society. We had nine customers and three staff in at one time. In the old shop you were uncomfortably full if you had three customers and if you had four you had to synchronise your breathing.
By four I was glad to escape and go shopping with Julia. I say “go shopping” but we have developed a routine that features us having a toasted teacake and a mug of tea before she goes round the shop while I sit and read the paper. It suits me because I’m a lazy male chauvinist pig and it suits her because she hasn’t got someone trailing round behind her complaining about prices.
The rot started a few years ago when I found myself nodding and saying “Yes dear.” when I wasn’t actually listening. I’d always said I wouldn’t do that, but once it started, the rest seemed to follow naturally.
That, I think, is enough for now. To continue risks me getting a flea in my ear if either Julia or my sister read this. Like Bertie Wooster, I have a set of female relatives who can be fearsome when annoyed.
The pictures show one of the answers to my question from yesterday – where does all the time go?