Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Electricity Company

I am here as victim of my own stupidity. Believing that the electricity company maybe wasn’t as bad as everyone made it out to be, I decided to pay my bill via Internet. Nobody shot me, so I did it again. Big mistake. This time, the bill is ten times greater than it ought to be, so I had to cancel my day and sit here in Purgatory.

Purgatory is full of people sitting on uncomfortable plastic chairs. They are all clutching little tickets and glance at the turn counter now and again to check that it hasn’t changed. There is a forlorn little sign dangling over an unattended desk which marks the end of Purgatory. Apparently, it’s called Public Relations.

I occasionally see people who actually work here coming out to remonstrate with the customers. They are stern and hold out little hope of an early salvation. I could save myself by walking over to the fast-moving queue of customers to my left and paying my grossly inflated bill, but I have this perverse need to know why it’s so high.

I am not, of course, left alone with my thoughts; that could be dangerous. There is a large TV in one corner of the room, blaring out housewife television to a small group of unseated devotees. It is mind-numbing.

There is some excitement at one point, as a woman who has BEEN OUTSIDE returns to reclaim her place, despite having missed her turn. There is uproar. Even the old lady next to me, who not ten minutes ago was telling her son by mobile phone that she was thinking of leaving, is outraged. ‘What would happen if we all did that?’ she cries, ‘We'd be here all day!’ She seems to forget that we’ve already been here a hell of a long time. Eventually, howled down by a bum-weary crowd, the interloper retreats.

After nearly five hours of this, I get up, donate my ticket to the patient old lady with a son on the other end of her mobile, and pay through the nose. I just can’t bear the thought of sitting for another minute in Purgatory. I give up.

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