Thursday, October 02, 2008

Communication Strategies

I was amused (some months ago) to see this little innovation at the Pelton Arms in Greenwich. It's a little leaflet that you place on your beer glass to stop the bar staff sweeping it up whilst you're outside having a cigarette.

I wish I had something similar myself the other day - not for a cigarette of course but to use the loo. Good bar staff don't snatch away seemingly unattended glasses the first time they see them - but this pub was the Market Porter and standards aren't the best. They have one concern which is to serve quickly and take your money - and they do serve quickly. When your change is back in your hand that's it - the deal's over and that's that. Don't trouble them with talk of short pints or anything else. They neither know about it nor care. Or rather it seems that way nowadays. Anyway - I didn't dare leave it at the bar without some little note. A smoker might have been better prepared these days. Having been amused by the hipster pda in the past perhaps it is time to carry around some more index cards. Write your note "Having a quick ciggie" then place it on top of the glass. No need to mention toilets at all. Another unintended plus to the smoking ban. (If you have a soft spot for low tech alternatives have a look at the DIYPlanner site - its a hymn of praise to pens and paper).

Which leads seamlessly to...I accompanied R into town to see her doctor the other day. She forgot her mobile so we when we decided to go to two different places and meet up at an unspecified time we had to dig out some old skills. "When will you be finished R?" I asked "I don't know Erik. Where will you be?" she asked "I haven't got a clue R". With two functioning mobiles such utter vagueness presents no problem. Without them you need to work out a PLAN. Plans are not too difficult if you both speak reasonable English. They are free and you are not tied into any contract. They are about the same length as a text message. "When I come out I will look in all the cafes in Lower Marsh""OK I will be in one of the cafes in Lower Marsh when you come out". It kind of worked but there must have been a bit of interference on the line as I saw R lurch past the cafe's window without looking in and I had to chase after her. Our second "plan" was "I'll do Starbucks you do Sainsbury's and we'll meet at the pie shop". It didn't take me long before I got to the pie shop with our coffees. R was immersed in a "Woman in Shop Situation". So this was how it was before mobiles I thought as I stood there waiting. It was all based on waiting: waiting in cafes, waiting in pubs, waiting beneath clocks,waiting...waiting..waiting. Except, one difference, I would be able to break up the wait with a cigarette in those far off days. It was the perfect consumable for some one who was waiting. It was quick, it was easy to handle, it was stimulating, it was relatively cheap. Luckily I had my latte to sip on but coffee has its limits. I could hardly distract myself with a steak and onion pie every time I had to wait for someone - the weighing scales are suffering enough as it is. Could the drive against smoking have been so dominant if the mobile phone hadn't become so available?

thanks to onkel_wart for the waiting picture linked to above

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