The below is a true story, albeit embellished in places. I decided to document my mundane adventures as if it were lofty prose, because there are many hours in the day that need to be filled somehow.
It was a cold day. Not too cold, but cold enough to make people say “ooh, that’s a bit cold.” Our story starts a few weeks after our hero lost his job for using company software to instigate an office wide rap battle. The official reason was “gross misconduct” which he reasoned was the same as normal misconduct, except done naked. He made the same joke at his disciplinary hearing. No one laughed, glances were exchanged. He still maintained the whole thing was a team building exercise, they countered that it was simply him avoiding doing any meaningful work.
Our hero – who for the sake of argument we will call Jasper – once again found himself endlessly applying for jobs. Any job would do. It is often said that the key to success is perseverance. Plugging away endlessly will eventually lead you to your goals. It is also said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If both these statements are true, then logically, the key to success is insanity, which is all very well, but hardly sustainable.
Jasper hit the submit button for an application to Which? Magazine. A strange organization. They seemed to be an authority on just about anything. “Best washing up liquid as voted by Which? Magazine.” “Best estate agents as voted by Which? Magazine.” “Best internet provider as voted by Which? Magazine.” Jasper doubted their credentials; no one could claim specialist knowledge on such an eclectic mix of products.
Enough was enough. His eyes hurt and he had not blinked for a good few hours. The blue light leaking from his computer screen was slowly frying his retinas and melting his brain. There was only so many times he could lie about why he wanted to work for various companies. No one wanted to work for the 60 plus years until they were decrepit or dead, it all came down to financial necessity. It was time for a coffee. He stood up and donned his bobbleless hat. It did once have a bobble, but he forcibly removed it. No one over the age of 9 should have a bobble about their person. It looked odd and served no purpose. The only logical purpose he could see would be if a bird were to perch atop his head, which he would not appreciate. He thought the hat gave him a working-class look. However, in truth it made him look like an exceptionally middleclass person attempting to look working-class.
He found his jacket and slipped on his loafers, life was too short to be fannying about with laces every time he left the flat. He lived in the centre of a vibrant, modern town. Some might say it had fallen victim to gentrification, meaning that it was wall to wall coffee shops and estate agents and the occasional estate agents with a coffee shop inside. Jasper often wondered why the coffee growing nations of the world didn’t rise up and use their ample stock of roasted coffee beans to become a global superpower. By holding coffee hostage they could easily bring western civilisation to its knees.
He patted himself down. Phone… Wallet… all good. He passed through his three doors, down a flight of steps and out into the world. He entered his popular coffee chain of choice and joined the queue. Already he could feel the ever present rage begin to bubble up from his stomach into his chest. The queue was not long, but there was only one person serving and the man at the front was clearly doing an office run, an unnecessarily expensive and needlessly complex daily exercise.
“No, that’s 3 flat whites, one decaf soy latte and four cappuccinos, chocolate on two, no chocolate on one, and chocolate on exactly half of the last.” The man rudely bellowed out his order to the poor flustered girl, whom Jasper recognised as the one that would refuse to meet his eye ever since she forgot to lock the toilet door and he entered to see her sat mid shit. Frustratingly, it was the closest Jasper had come to an erotic experience for a long time. His penis was purely a decorative appendage these days.
“So two flat whites?” She asked smeared in coffee grinds.
“No three flat whites!” The man retorted.
Jasper had no idea what a flat white was, he only knew he hated them just as he hated the man ordering them. He wished it wasn’t illegal to beat him to death with a chair leg, or melt him in a vat of boiling flat whites.
“Here’s the decaf soy latte,” said the girl popping a paper cup into a cardboard holder.
“Is it super decaf?” Asked the man critically.
“Erm… no,” said the carefree shitter.
“It needs to be super decaf. If Wendy even has so much as a whiff of caffeine she immediately dies!” the man exclaimed sending the girl back to the whirring spluttering machine.
Two hours later Jasper left with his coffee, angrier than he had ever been in his life. It was at that moment his brain decided to remind him of the third step to the leaving the flat dance. It doesn’t stop after wallet. It goes Phone… Wallet… Keys. He had left out what was perhaps the most important step. He frantically started patting down his pockets with his one free hand. Modern clothes are made with what he viewed as an unnecessary number of pockets, so this took him some time his anger growing all the while.
He had no keys.
His flat mate, who was possessed with more self-control than him, was still employed. Although that may have something to do with the fact that she had a made up job title and a good day’s work consisted of saying the words “E-learning environment” over and over again. However, at work she was and her work was in the next town over.
At times like these, Jasper found him awash with inconsolable anger. He would froth at the mouth and hurl out expletives by the dozen. He would be angry with himself first and foremost, for forgetting his keys. He would be angry with humanity as a whole, for being so shit that the concept of a lock and key need be invented, lest people come into other people’s houses to murder them and/or steal their shit. Thirdly, he be angry with his parents. His existence, and subsequently his current predicament was all their fault.
Taking a deep breath he reasoned he could just go to the estate agents. They would have spare keys and if he explained the situation in a calm manner, they would get him back in.
He pressed the buzzer to the estate agents. After a lengthy pause a voice rasped through the speaker.
“I’m Jasper!” he declared his coffee having amplified his rage to untold levels. It took him sometime to see through the red fog to realise that announcing his name would not be enough.
“From 7B!” he said, “I did the pat down dance wrong.” He said.
“Locked out?” said the estate agent.
“That I am. Have you spare keys?”
The door was buzzed open and he entered the run down little office building. In a small room were his agents in a cluttered, open plan office. A man who looked very estate agenty, with smart black hair slicked back and a shirt and tie approached him. Jasper did not think himself a judgemental man, but if pressed he would have to describe the man before him as a bellend.
“7b you say? Let me have a look, we have spare keys.” He said before disappearing. Jasper stood glaring around at the wretched scum and tosspots about him, feeling very exposed. He felt that if he lingered too long he might catch a serious case of arsehattery. The agent returned with a smug look of accomplishment on his face. He handed Jasper a pair of keys. Jasper regarded them with an unimpressed look.
“There are only two keys.” He said.
“Yes!” The man said, chest swelling with pride.
“There are three doors to the property.” Jasper explained. The man regarded him with a dubious look, tinted with a healthy dollop of suspicion.
“Well… that’s all we have.” He said. Jasper frowned wondering just what sort of moron he was dealing with. At a loss for words he retreated from the office and headed back to his flat. Needless to say neither key worked on the outside door. However, quick thinking as ever he formulated a plan. He had forged an alliance with those who worked in the milkshake shop, who also had access to that very door.
“Good afternoon. I am locked out, could you please let me through the front door,” he said entering the milkshake shop, one of many that had burst into existence in recent years. He had no idea how they stayed in business, as he had never heard of anyone express an interest in an Oreo flavoured milkshake, let alone think to buy one at one in the afternoon on a winters day.
“We can’t let anyone upstairs for insurance reasons.” Said the girl in a state of panic. Jasper frowned. The girl was young, a little plump and dim looking. He was confused, as he had not mentioned stairs, he had certainly not said anything that would be in breach of insurance policies.
“No… I need you to open the door for me.” He said as softly as he could, the girl, like a startled elk looked ready to bolt at any minute.
“What door?” she asked.
“The front one. The black one. Has a large 7 on it.” He explained taking care to use one syllable words.
After some time, the girl opened the door for him. He was home at last. He thought.
Only to find neither of the two keys the estate agent had proudly bestowed upon him worked in the second door either. Just what he held the keys too was beyond him. Perhaps they were the keys to someone’s heart. He hoped they were the keys to the estate agent’s heart, so he could return repeatedly and jab them deep into his ribs.
It seemed… he had to get the bus to the next town over.
The bus driver looked like an older, slightly fatter Harry Potter, who having been kicked out of the wizarding world had resigned himself to driving a bus. As per usual, getting the bus during the day was like being in Dawn of the Dead. Hordes of shuffling old people dragging their ridiculous wheely bags clogged up the busses, huffing and puffing at the audaciousness of the young, daring to sit down. Each one seemed to enjoy a lengthy conversation with Harry Potter about nothing. Jasper asked for a return to the next town.
He did not hear the price, but simply handed over a fiver, the face of the queen giving him a mocking look. The driver took the note and stared at him expectantly. Jasper looked around wondering if Harry had finally snapped, or whether he had had a stroke.
“£5.50.” said Harry. The rage was rising once again. Five pounds and fifty pence, for one bus journey. For the third time Jasper enjoyed the idea of murdering someone.
He handed over another fifty pence and off they went.
It was at that point that Jasper realised just how talented the bus driver was. He was driving the bus, whilst reading a newspaper and eating a sandwich. Jasper would struggle to do any one of those things on their own. Just how much attention was being paid to the road was another question entirely, but it was impressive nonetheless. If they were to crash and die, Jasper knew his grave stone would read “it was an article on Brexit.”
It took over an hour to get there, collect his flatmate’s keys and then return. At which point he decided that the day was a right off and drank himself into a stupor. The next morning he received an angry call from the estate agent demanding he return the spare keys as soon as possible as they were their only spares and would not be able to access the property in case of an emergency. Jasper did his best to explain that there was only two keys for three doors, and those two keys did not work anyway, so even if they did have them they would not be able to enter the flat in an emergency. He also did his best to explain that any ‘emergency’ would probably require people to leave the flat not get in. He asked under what circumstances they would need access to the flat. There the phone call ended.
Two days later he received a letter saying the landlord had to get extra keys cut and he would be charged for this.
Jasper checked his emails for responses to job applications. He found one from Red Strip estate agents saying that he did not seem qualified to be an estate agent. He closed his laptop and went to get a coffee.