Who are they? They are people who don’t have your best interests at heart. They are the bad people, the ones out to get you.
And these are things they will never tell you.
- It’s the chef’s night off. You’ve eaten there before and it was great. That’s because the chef is very good. However, he’s not here on this occasion. The food will be cooked by an ordinary mortal – perhaps the chef’s deputy, maybe the owner, could be the kitchen porter, or possibly a random moron. They’re going to do their best – but that could mean anything.
- Don’t have the steak – it’s garbage. They bought a load of it and it looks good but is like leather. But they would rather see if they can get away with it than waste all that money. So they have battered it with one of those medieval spiky hammers until it’s so thin you can read the wine list through it. And it’s still chewy.
- You’re going to be sacked. You know they don’t like you and things haven’t been going too well. But when they want to see you in their office, they don’t want you to be prepared, with a list of extenuating circumstances, a letter of warning from your lawyer and a baseball bat concealed about your person. They want to be in charge of the surprises department.
- You’re not going to get the job. You could do it standing on your head. You know that and they know that. You’re ideally qualified, the best applicant they could wish for. But there’s just one thing against you and it’s on their secret agenda. Maybe you’re the wrong sex – you’re male and they want to appoint a female brain surgeon, just for a change. You’re straight but they want a gay bus driver – because they want to be seen as open to diversity. You have a nice, plain English accent but they want a regional variation as the voice that answers their phone. You’re white but they want a black manager because they’ve never had one before.
- It’s going to rain. You’re about to part with an inflated sum of money to watch a cricket match in England, but the forecast says monsoon. What are they going to do? Come clean, turn everybody away and lose money? No. And the match is not going to be replayed, so you can’t get what Americans call a “rain check”. That’s all very well for a piffling little game of baseball, but this is serious international sport.
- The sausages fell on the ground while they were bringing them over from the barbecue. It’s a clean garden – they’re a hygienic family – and it rained yesterday so the ground is fine to eat – maybe even nutritious.
- They don’t know. They, in this case, are doctors. General practitioners in the UK spend on average 8-10 minutes on each appointment. Therefore they don’t want to hear your life story because they don’t have time. You need to be very specific, very relevant and very accurate. Because you want them to fix you and they want that too, so you both want them to come up with an answer and a treatment in a split second. Hence the tendency to hand out pills, which may or may not help but will at least make the patient feel something is being done. You don’t want them to say they don’t know. At worst you want them to refer you to a specialist – at no cost to yourself.
- They don’t know where that is. Taxi drivers. They will get on the squawk box to the office, they’ll ask their mates, they may even probe you gently for clues. “That’s opposite the bus station, isn’t it?” The correct, if unhelpful, response on your part, is “I don’t know. You’re the taxi driver.”
- They have had every STI known to man, but they’re all right now. Sexual partners. Even if they have a perfectly clean bill of health right now, they’re not going to spoil that beautiful moment by confessing to previously having been a walking petrie dish of embarrassing infections.
- They didn’t read your email. Well, they read the first point but you made the mistake of going on to other subjects which also need to be dealt with. So they ignored everything but the first and it’s your fault for complicating matters.