Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Chicken Little and the Red-Wrapped Cherry Liqueur Incident

I got over the fright of people's unexpected limbs appearing in front of me bearing miscellaneous objects about a month after I went from sole-trader to just one office pleb in a crowd. So it was no bother today when a hand materialised in front of my eyes and waved a cherry liqueur chocolate wrapped in festive red paper in front of my nose while I was speaking with a customer about the quality of service she was getting from the local government. I just nodded my thanks in mid prattle and the sweety was placed gently on the desktop beside my computer keyboard.

One thing that has to be said about my workplace: no-one is stingy with the sweets. There is often a coming or going party for people happening in some corner, with oddments of treats from biscuits to whole cream cakes going a begging, and everything sugary in between.

Whether someone travels to the far side of the world or the opposite side of the road, they always remember to bring a bag of lollies or something for us to munch upon. So Valentine's Day was a perfect excuse for confectionary. It was from someone's thoughtful gift for the day that was in it that this particular sweety had emerged, and true to form the recipient decided to share the wealth.

When I'd finished my phone conversation with my customer and put the information he'd asked for into the external post basket, I sat back at the desk and eyed the sweety. It certainly looked like a nice one. The paper was that plasticy type in which rich chocolates are sometimes wrapped. There was no-one on the line for the moment, so I thought I'd take my chance and gobble it down.

The first bite let the thick, rich cherry liquer inside mix around luciously. "Not bad," I thought, although the dark chololate was a little bitter. There was a small piece of cherry in there somewhere too, which was a nice touch. As I swallowed the last bit down the phone rang.

The conversation went a little like this:

Willie: "Hello. Such-and-such Department. Can I help you?"
Caller: "Yes, please. I received a letter from you about my service? Can you help me?"
Willie: "Caawk! Awk, Gaack, HAAAH..AWK!
Caller: "Pardon...?"

The last feckin' swallow of chocolate had gone halfway down my windpipe and was bubbling about the top of my larnyx while I went blue in the face and made noises like a demented chicken.

Caller: "Hello...? Are you there?"

There came the sounds of someone shaking their telephone handset in puzzlement.

Willie (huskily and with tears flowing down his cheeks): "I'm sorry.... I'm having a bit of a problem here... HAAAH...AWK..!!"

Caller: "Bloody mobile phones! The reception is shite!"

Willie: "Gaa-ck..! HAAA-AWK!!"

I swear. No more liqueurs. My body just can't be trusted.

No comments: