I was in a hotel, I was tired and I wanted to make a phone-call. I was passing reception which was completely empty except for the receptionist. "Do you have to dial a '9' to get an outside line from my room?" I asked.
And with that question the grey mid-forties man, name-tagged 'Lloyd' slowly tapped his favourite chin and decided on giving me an answer more useless than saying "I have no idea"; more rude than saying "Why don't you just F*** off"; and more irritating than Carol Vorderman crying over Richard Whitely dying.
"Let me answer your question, with a question?"
Why? I thought to myself, have I jumped too far ahead in the whole concept of telecommunications? Do we need to discuss something else more fundamental first before getting on to the fun bits? But from the smug grin on this man's face, it was apparent that some cutting and unnecessary remark was about to pop its ugly head out of his ugly head.
"What button would you normally press to get an external-line in a hotel?"
I can only identify the following as possible reasons for him asking this question:
a) He didn't know how to access an outside line.
b) He was genuinely interested in the different ways people access outside lines in hotels around
the world and was researching for his website he had set-up for the subject.
c) He had misheard my question, "Do I have to dial a '9' to get an outside line from my room?" as "Can you ask me a pub-quiz style question on Hotel facilities?"
d) He was a being a sarcastic cock.
After no thought on the subject, I found myself drawn to option 'd'.
"Nine" I said, almost apologetically.
"Correct" he replied and turned away happy that he'd taught me the valuable lesson that it is unreasonable to ask questions at hotel receptions.
I slowly started to amble off, a beaten and tired person. But with one last ounce of energy I turned and faced the receptionist again, staring straight into his cold self-satisfied eyes.
"So do I have to dial a '9' to get an outside line my hotel room?"