As I am hopalong at the moment, and away from the hubbub of normal office socialising, I’ve been retiring to the staff cafe to read my book (The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde) for a half hour at lunchtime. It has been lovely actually. Trouble was, on Tuesday, it was towards the end of the usual lunch-time rush, and I was alone with just two others. The man in front and off to my left was busy reading his newspaper and eating his sandwiches in silence. The man down the end of the cafe to my right was casually dressed as though he might be a workman or a decorator, and was surrounded in papers which looked like bills or invoices. He was bent over them, pencil in hand, and seemed engrossed in whatever task he was doing. He didn’t appear to have been eating or drinking in the Cafe at all, but was trapped in a nest of scribbly paperwork.
I munched my snack-a-jacks (low in calories, but very tasty, y’know), and read my book……..
I looked up and around. What made that noise?
I could see nothing, so I returned to my book, read some more, tried to settle calmly into the story again, turned the page, and….. “Snifff.”
I looked up again. Invoice man made eye contact and looked away.
It was him, I was sure of it. I watched him carefully while he went back to studying his invoices. No sniffing. No sound. Nothing.
I pretended to go back to my book, then looked up again, to see if I could catch him out. No, nothing.
Finished my rice-based snack, and moved onto my bottle of Cola. Refreshing. Nice.
Right, then, back to the story. I gently flexed the spine of the book I was reading, and into my little world of fiction I descended, the fast-paced adventures of Thursday Next whisked me ever onwards……….
I wondered whether I should offer the bloke a tissue. But I didn’t have a clean one, and I still hadn’t actually seen him sniff, so didn’t really have the courage. But I knew it was Invoice man.
I’m not easily wound up, but random sniffing has got to be one of the things that really drives me to distraction. That and people who drum their fingers on the desk.
I had to go.