Tuesday, 16 August 2011

'A Short Story' (well it's rather long for a blog but short for a book)

I was on my way back from pilates the other day when an elderly gentleman on a mobility scooter came flying towards me.
This is not me. I can not touch my toes, let alone my head with my foot. 
I was right in the middle of texting in that malcoordinated way you do when walking, focusing closely on your fingers and nearly avoiding lampposts. As I dodged out of the way to avoid my shins being lacerated by the pensioner, the seated gentleman asked if I had a phone. As it was darned obvious i had a phone as I was using my phone, I thought to myself ho ho, this fellow wants to have a little joke so I decided to play along; holding up my phone I said 'Nope, fraid not! No phone!'

As I smirked at my ingeniously clever and quick-witted response to his joke, he looked increasingly worried and said 'Oh dear! Scuse me Sir - do you have a phone?' to the man behind.

Realising the joke had not been well received and the the man was definitely over 80 so perhaps had poor eyesight and hadn't seen my phone in the first place - or my shins come to think of it, I quickly retracted my comment: 'Yes. Yes I do have a phone. It's right here. I was just joking. Do you need to call someone?' I said. He informed me his scooter was running out of batteries and asked if I could call the AA.

'Ha HAA!! I thought. I've been had again! 'Very amusing,' I said 'The AA - eh?'

'I am NOT having you on! came the reply, now even more annoyed.
'My scooter's run out, I'm a member of the AA, I'd like them to come and fix it, so can you PLEASE call them!!' My face reddening by this point, I dutifully picked up my phone, googled the AA and called them.

The conversation went as follows 'If you have a car press -1.... if you are calling about a motorbike press 2..... if you are calling about a caravan or heavy vehicle press 3....' The options started wearing thin and as Mr May was sitting glaring at me, finally I pressed 2 for bike and then hoping to redeem my earlier stupidity somewhat I launched striaght into: 'Yes. I have a Mr May here. He'd like you to come and fix his mobility scooter immediately!
'Sorry madam - what did you say?'
'His mobilty scooter. It's broken down. Can you send someone?'
'Sorry, madam. What kind of scooter - did you say?'
'A mobility scooter - one of those scooters you might use if you've become immobile.'
 'Is this a prank phone call?'

'NO NO!! It isn't. I've got Mr May here who says he's a member and you've come to fix it before.... Could you check his details?'

'Madam, whether he's a member or not, we don't provide a breakdown service for mobility scooters.'
Mr May is at this point tugging on my t-shirt saying 'They do, they do! She doesn't knowww. Speak to someone else!'
So I ask if she's made a mistake so she asks her colleague. He confirms he's just asked their manager and all three are quite sure they don't provide emergency breakdown for mobility scooters.

Alas, I put down my phone and must return to my new friend the bad news.

He looks very annoyed and suggests I send for his nurse to come and charge the mobility scooter instead. As I begin 'I'm afraid I don't have her number... he reaches into his pocket and pulls out 2 brand new mobile phones saying HERE! Call her on one of these.

By this point, I'm expecting Ashton Kutcher to appear and tell me I've been punked. I look around but there seems to be no sign of Kutcher, so slightly cross-eyed I decide it's best not to bring Mr May up on this point, and upset him further so I just attempt the ON button dubiously with one of the phones and to my surprise Ping!! on it goes, with FULL battery and a screenpicture of its owner in the same uniformed outfit grinning proudly on his mobility scooter.

His nurse, it turns out, is from the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. She expresses great surprise when I inform her one of her pensioners is heading for the A4. She explains Mr. May has been unwell and just had his scooter returned to him that morning - a the condition of his recovery. Evidently, he'd got so excited, he'd just gone APESHIT and was heading for Reading.
But the nurse also tells me there's no one to pick him and the scooter up so could I put him in a cab and leave the scooter on the Earls Court Road. This I suggested to Mr May but there is NO WAY he is leaving his scooter on the Earls Court Road which I kind of agree with so I suggest he come with me to my flat nearby on the remainder of his battery and we sit there until my boyfriend gets back from work, when we can give him and his scooter a lift back.

Typically it was the ONE day Charlie was late - 45 miins to be exact and I couldn't get hold of him then my phone ran out of batteries. So I sat with Mr May outide my flat, chatting to him. He told me he had lived in Blackpool and worked on the buses before giving up his pension and moving into the RHC. In my igorance, I'd thought Chelsea pensioners were people who'd always lived in Chelsea but this is not the case at all (if you still trust what Mr May says by this point).

As there was no sign of Charlie and no sign of the chat subsiding and I had a deadline for 6pm (which i was about to miss) I begrudgling persudad him to jump in a cab but on the one condition - that I stayed with his scooter until it could be moved from the  pavement. So off he went and 10 mins later Charlie arrived to find this...

Understanably his immediate reaction was WHAT THE F***! Have you killed an old person?!

As he helped me drag it off the pavement I tried to explain about Mr May, (Charlie seemed dubious. HIs view was the man was obviously trying it on with me - typical) THEN I had to explain to my boss why I'd missed my deadline (it must have sounded a pretty unlikely excuse - i wouldn't have believed me) THEN I had to explain to my friend why I was late for dinner (again he just raised his eyebrows and told me sit down). So, admittedly I did feel a little like I'd made it up....

......UNTIL about 4 days later i received this letter, which had an official stamp on it - one I didn't recognise until I looked closely and saw this:

And a letter (i've swapped his name for privacy purposes):

So apart from feeling a 'little' guilty about dobbing in Mr May so soon after he'd started joy-riding again, I now know that good things come to those who abduct pensioners' mobility scooters.

I will be booking a tour in Sept. and shall report back. Can't wait!