I often struggle with working from home; there’s always something more interesting going on; putting the washing on, feeding the cat, listening to the row Next Door are having about putting the toilet seat down. So I don’t often do it, because I want to actually be productive with my day.
Today, however, I’ve been working at home for most of the day and, thankfully, I’ve been in the right mindset to have a productive morning. And then there was a knock on my door.
Please bear in mind first that I live in a block of flats, so the visitor – whoever they might have been – would have needed to run the gauntlet first of the outside door. That was the first though which ran through my head when I hear the rather insistent knock on the door – but the second was that, after having performed my morning ablutions, I had changed back into my pyjamas.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no embarrassment in wearing my pyjamas when I’m at home by myself, especially as my writing career involves me sat at the computer screen. If anyone were to hack into my webcam, there wouldn’t be much they’d see which would be of any interest – and I certainly wouldn’t be aware of it, so all would be fine there.
However, I was sat in my front room, in my pyjamas, and now someone was knocking insistently on my front door. Was my music too loud? Doubtful. Was I coughing too loud? No, of course not – if I’m going to annoy people, there’s easier ways of doing it than by a cough.
The knocking then started up again, and I realised that I was thinking about this far too deeply; if people were going to be fussed about me being in my pyjamas at 12.30pm, then they could just sod off – I’m not interested in their judgement, especially when they’re visiting me at my home.
So I flung the door open in a state of abject pride – “Look at me! I am a creative type! No human can predict their behaviour!” I might be over-egging it slightly there, but I hope you get my point. I’m glad I didn’t go quite that far, because stood to the side of my door – for some reason, they clear felt that pressing themselves against the wall outside my flat was going to be the right course of action – were two young ladies in their mid-teens?
“Can I help you?” I asked cautiously, peering round the side of my front door in a way I’d never expected I’d have to do.
“Can we speak to Miles, please?” the first girl asked.
“Miles. He lives here.”
My mind quickly raced. I live in a two-bed flat on the first floor, so there’s no basement and no attic, and the spare room never seems to have anyone in it during the six months I’ve lived here. Whilst I’m often mono-focused on the task in hand, I think I’d have noticed if I had another human being living here. At least, I hope I would.
“Sorry,” I reply, “but there’s no Miles here.”
“No, he lives here,” the first girl retorts (the second girl is strangly mute so far). “I know he does.”
“No, he really does.”
“No, he really doesn’t.”
We catch each other’s eye at this point, and an unspoken communion seems to pass between us – that we were caught in an odd kind of loop that wouldn’t allow us to get anywhere. It was certain that I would continue stating my position and she would continue hers – and I certainly wasn’t going to stand in my doorway, peering round the corner, as I justified my solo living to a 15 year old girl. A lot flashed through my mind in the intensity of that moment.
“Do you know where he lives?” the girl then asked me.
“Who, Miles?” I asked. “I don’t know anyone called Miles. What’s his surname?”
“I can’t tell you that,” the girl asserted, sounding for all intents and purposes that I was trying to get out of her highly personal information that would give me access to the aforementioned Miles’ bank account.
“Why not?” I prompt.
I was a bit lost for words at this point; how could I possibly answer such a complex and yet asinine conversational gambit? I’m not entirely sure; I just wanted to see if I recognised the surname from any post I’d seen in the communal area of the flats – but fine; if she could be petty, then so could I.
“Alright,” I replied with a shrug, “then I can’t help you. You might be quicker going through all the flats if you split up, though. Does your friend want a throat sweet to bring her voice back?”
Petty, I know, but I couldn’t help myself – I regretted it almost as soon as I closed the door, but it made me feel better in the moment. Still, I wish I’d come up with something more innovative and funny, but I panicked. I might have to start writing some witticisms down for emergencies …