Fun the Waterstone’s way

Oh what a fun day at work today. Three of my staff didn’t turn up on time for the early shift. Three publishers to see in the morning and three staff (including me) to work two sales floors. Then even more fun when we discovered our phones were down. Then we noticed the email was down as were the lines which connect the tills to the bank computers to authorise credit card purchases. Hmmm, a pattern forming here. So I can’t even phone the staff that didn’t turn up to find out if they were ill or just late and they couldn’t call us. Can it get any worse? Well, yes, because then someone reports a burning smell…

Turns out on inspection that some arsehole had set fire to the bundled up cardboard outside our rear door that was waiting for recycling. Big pile of boxes, set alight in the back alley with the side effect of melting cables nearby which had within – yes you guessed it, our phone lines and computer lines. Woohoo! We had to use a mobile to phone our other branch to call maintenance for us! Oh the fun. To add to the fun our management neglect to tell me (the person in charge of opening) that two key members of staff are coming in late this day. Nothing like communication, and this was nothing like communication.

Still it meant a day with no constantly ringing phones, which was actually a pleasure. We tried alternative communications. I dug out the old telegraph system but discovered to ma annoyance that our newer staff no longer come with a qualification in Morse code, quite what they will do if they ever go back in time and have to send an SOS from a stricken liner (or indeed stricken iceberg) I don’t know. So we turned to semaphore to signal our branch at the West End of Edinburgh, but fat Italian tourists blocked the line of sight. In the end we took two plastic cups from the water cooler, attached a long piece of string to them and used these to keep in touch. Always nice to put some of that concentrated knowledge we booksellers accumulate to practical use.

As for the fire – I suspect it wasn’t a drunken arsonist – I suspect Australian backpackers. There is a hostel in that alley above the bar. Hot evening, drunken Ozzers, sudden desire for a backyard Barbie – well you can imagine how it all came about.