Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Getting someone on my side

Not having an id card is a bit of a pain. Going outside for a fag means asking the security man to let you out then let you in again. I’ve come across two of them so far. Both sport lots of wrinkles and white hair, one is friendly, the other not. The unfriendly one looks depressed and groans audibly when he has to open the door. He has a South African accent.

It’s almost enough to stop me going out when he’s there – I don’t like having to deal with that obvious sort of unfriendliness. But, being manipulated by someone like that is stupid (and weak) so I dealt with it another way - I talked to him.

‘Are you South African?’ I asked.

‘No, I’m not,’ he said. Still no break in the taciturn façade.

‘Oh, Australian, maybe?’ He mumbles enough to confuse even me as to what accent he has.

‘No, I suppose you could call it colonial,’ he said. ‘I moved to Rhodesia when I was very young then, for many years, I was in South Africa. I’ve been here a long time now so I’m not sure what accent I have.’

Definitely South African but I didn’t contradict him.

‘I’m South African,’ I said, ‘but I’m originally from Mozambique.’

Suddenly there was a change in his attitude and he smiled. It also opened up a floodgate – if it hadn’t been for someone else wanting to get through the door, I’d still be there hearing him reminisce about ‘the old days’.

I’ve broken the ice now and I’ve seen him smile. It remains to be seen if he’ll be less grumpy about letting me in and out of the building in future.

8 Comments:

Blogger Gordon said...

I hope it will but there is a certain kind of person that just takes pleasure in being grumpy/sad.

Maybe pleasure isn't the right word for it mind you.

2:03 pm  
Blogger kyknoord said...

You have to wonder how secure your building is, if the white-haired wrinklemeister is the only thing protecting the inner sanctum from the ravening hordes.

3:43 pm  
Blogger Bill said...

... you sweet-talkin' man, you! ;)

4:43 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

gordon: you are quite right and that especially applies to those who are badly-paid but given a degree of authority over others - like security guards. Also, in this particular case, he'd probably have been accustomed to a certain degree of luxury and entitlement having lived in the 'colonies' so having to work as a security guard in his later years may rankle just a bit. Poor guy, I'm probably doing him an injustice and he may end up being my best pal at the door.

kyknoord: those ravening hordes have already breached the defences - they allowed me in!

bill: I can be treacly sweet if necessary.

5:01 pm  
Blogger Miss Mish said...

I haven't forgotten your taging me with a meme so will do it later.

And welcome back to the world of work!

5:33 pm  
Blogger ChittyChittyBangBang! said...

Wrinkled with white hair. Darn, I hope that is not the image foreigners have of So AFricans.
Big ups for making the connection - I reckon you made his day.

9:13 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

Yes, I probably did make his day. It would be nice to think I did as that job can't be the best one in the world.

I got my new ID badge today so I won't be able to test if my breaking the ice with him will have changed his attitude to opening the door for me. But, I could pretend....

9:26 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

rhodesia, he said? no wonder he's cranky and bitter. in my apt building here in cape town, i met a guy who said he was from "salisbury" originally, acting like i wouldn't know where that was. when i said "i used to live in harare, where did you stay?" the guy grumbled, and walked away.

--ursanegro

6:29 am  

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