Friday, 16 May 2014

Story Episode 8

We arrived by taxi at G4S's Crawley headquarters just after 3.15 pm. We entered through the automatic doors and made our way to reception where a young woman in her late twenties or early thirties was seated behind a hotel reception type desk. She stood up as we approached. 

"Hello" she said. "How may I help you?"

"Hello" I replied. "Would it be possible to see one of your senior executives about a matter of extreme importance to the company?"

"Have you got an appointment?" she asked. I said that unfortunately we had not but that the situation that presented itself had come about very quickly and it was most important that we speak to someone in authority as a matter of urgency. 

"I'm sorry" she countered "but you can't see anyone here without an appointment. I can make one for you to see someone next week".

I tried again to press our case but to no avail. "Look" I said finally "we are not leaving here until we see somebody". I saw her glance across at someone who looked like a security guard and I thought for a moment that we were going to be thrown out. But instead she said "All right. If you take a seat over there I will see what I can do". She pointed to some seats at the far end of the reception area. "Thank you" I said and we went and sat down.

We saw her pick up the telephone and speak to someone but we were too far away to hear what she was saying. The conversation went on for some time and at one point we saw her shake her head. It is funny how sometimes people do this on the telephone even though the person at the other end of the line can't see it.

When she put the phone down I thought she might come over and speak to us but instead she just sat down on her chair.

After about half an hour I started to lose patience. I got up and went over to her at the reception desk. "Look" I said "is anyone going to come and see us or are you just wasting our time here?"

"Please be patient" she replied. "Someone will be able to see you shortly but he is in a meeting at the moment. Can I get you a tea or coffee while you are waiting?"

I said no thanks and went back to sit with the others.

About twenty minutes later her telephone rang. She answered and while speaking looked across at us. Putting the phone down she gestured for me to come over. "Someone will see you now" she said. "Go up in the lift to level 3 and find room 3.2.  It will be down the corridor on the left when you come out of the lift. I thanked her and the three of us made our way across reception to the lift. We went up to level 3 as we had been told and found our way to room 3.2. 

The door to the room was closed so I knocked loudly on it.  "Come in" said a voice from inside.
Entering the room we saw a young man sitting on an L-shaped sofa. The room had all the things that you would expect to find in an office - a desk with a telephone, laptop and a printer, a filing cabinet etc., but also a more informal area where the young man was sitting.  

"Do come in and make yourself comfortable" he said.

When we were seated he asked us what this was all about. I gave what I hoped was a succinct but coherent account of the situation. From time to time he nodded his head as if to confirm that he was listening intently. When I had finished I looked at Dave and Penny and asked if I had missed anything crucial. They both shook their heads.

"It's a very interesting story" said the young man "although I do find it hard to believe. Are you sure that this isn't just some kind of a hoax? There are a lot of people out there trying to cause problems for us at the moment". I assured him that we were on the level and actually trying to help G4S as well as ourselves. "OK" he said "I will see what I can do. If you give your names and contact details to Mandy on reception someone will get in touch with you". At that point he rose from the sofa and ushered us out of the room. "Nice to meet you" he said as we left. 

We went back to the lift and down to Mandy at reception. As requested we gave our details and then phoned for a taxi to take us back to the station. I was feeling a bit dejected. Nothing was going to happen today. Maybe we wouldn't hear anything more at all. It had been naive of me to expect anything to happen quickly. The man we had seen was clearly not a senior executive, He hadn't even told us his name.

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