Short Dates – A Book Extract

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Complaint Lover

 

The gate banged in the distance, as the wind could be heard to whistle by, bending and distorting anything which happened to get in its way. It was very late at night and as usual I was busy replying to my endless stack of emails to do with work. In amongst them I noticed an electric bill, standing out because of its colourful logo. I marked it to be read and finished an email to my boss requesting a holiday before boiling the kettle for the fifth time and stretching my legs to avoid deep vein thrombosis. While getting up to close the curtains, I realised that I was freezing cold and so went to turn up the heating, before eventually getting around to opening that email containing my latest bill.

 

My blood seemed to boil instantly as I scanned my eyes over to the total cost of usage. How dare they say that I owed that much? That was insane. Either the whole town was tapped into my meter and was draining power from me, or my son was using enough electric to fuel a thousand games consoles, but I was pretty sure he only had the one. All thoughts of work emails flew out of my head and I thumped my fist against the table, knocking my cup of tea over and spilling it onto my favourite jumper.

 

My first instinct was to call them but I soon realised that their call centre was long closed and I would not be able to get through until the following day. I logged into their online chat instead and left a furious email, slagging them off and using colourful language that I usually only reserved for my ex-husband. The cat looked at me as if to say, ‘here she goes again,’ disapprovingly. I glared back at it and slammed the laptop closed.

 

Before going to bed, I turned the heating off, unplugged everything I could think of, filled up two hot water bottles (one for me and one for Kieran) and went into my bedroom to sulk. Luckily the sulk soon slipped into a deep sleep and the next thing I knew it was time for my alarm to ring. I never had been one to struggle to get some sleep, luckily.

 

This meant I was fresh and raring to go as I stomped downstairs. Still reeling from my discovery, I told Kieran that he would have to wear extra layers of clothing as we couldn’t afford the heating any more. He looked at me with an expression not unlike the cat’s and grunted, ‘Whatever!’ and then wandered off into the garage to get his bike and go to school.

 

I remembered that I was working from home this morning and so this would be a perfect opportunity to lay into that stupid electric company. Anyone that knew me at all was well aware that I blew hot and cold and this was just something you had to get used to. Maybe that was why I was so useless at keeping men. Kieran’s dad had got so fed up that he ran off with the vet. It hadn’t struck me that he had taken the cat to the vet an awful lot in the months leading up to our separation, no doubt trying to seduce her.

 

 My friends and colleagues also knew that I loved to complain about things. Even just last month I had gone to stay in a hotel where the curtain was coming off the rail and the workman had to be called to fix it. As a result I wrote a stinking letter of complaint which resulted in a voucher for a free night’s stay. People could call me what they liked but the fact was that when I complained, I always got my voice heard. This time would not be any different, as far as I was concerned. I was not prepared to pay such a large fee just because they said so.

 

My laptop fired up as I stroked the cat awkwardly, still unsure if it was able to judge me or not. It purred slightly so I guessed it must have forgiven me after all. The emails opened and the chat window refreshed. A small message asked me to get in touch at my earliest convenience as they were sure they could help me by explaining my bill to me. Feeling patronised I took ten deep breaths and then started typing into the live chat box.

 

Straight away it told me that a customer assistant would be dealing with me and this one began with the usual password checks and verifying my existence. After this he said that he would find it easier to discuss these issues over the phone. Quickly considering my options I decided to go with that, even though I had already logged into the website, which had felt like a massive effort in itself.

 

He offered to call me and when I picked up the phone I was surprised by the silkiness of his voice. It was soft, but not too soft. He sounded as though he were in his mid-twenties with a well spoken southerly accent. His name soon came up as Jenson and I thought to myself that that was a nice name, reminding me of a famous racing driver. Already I was in a less stressed state and so this conversation was going to be had without shouting and screaming. I realised that I was being charmed by a posh accent and pulled myself together, managing to find the anger again which had driven me to contacting him to start with.

To read more of this story, check out my short stories collection. I have added an affiliate link below.

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