Today I got a call on the intercom while I was home alone. I don't always answer the intercom because it faces out onto a slightly dodgy street over the road from a crack den and a hotel and I reason that my friends and family have my mobile number if they want to find out if I'm home. Today I did answer it, however, and the conversation went something like this:
Man: Uh hello, sorry to bother you I'm (indistinguishable) from (indistinguishable) repairs.
Me: Uh huh...
Man: I'm downstairs at the (indistinguishable) hairdresser because they have a leak and I think it might be coming from your balcony.
Me: My... balcony.
Man: Yeah I was just wondering if I can come up and have a quick two minute look at it to see if that's how the water is getting in. Sorry to put you out.
So at that point I let him up, he checked the potenntial leak out and was on his way, right?
Er no. Clearly paranoia is getting to me because I immediately thought this could be some kind of cunning ruse to get this guy into the complex and/or my apartment.
So I lied.
But that wasn't enough. I didn't just lie - I lied. I fell into the classic trap of bad liars and went ridiculously, improbably fucking overboard. I told him I was hosting a baby shower on the balcony so, no, he couldn't really come up to check it out right then because it was full of excitable and potentially hormonal women.
Seriously. I wish I were joking.
But, to my credit, not being made of stone I thought there was a fair chance this guy was telling the truth. After all he sounded so apologetic for dragging me away from the "baby shower" (or so I thought - but more on that later). So I told him to come back later in the afternoon when I knew Ruth would be at the house with me. Cunning, eh?
Well, when the guy turned up a few hours later I thought straight away that it was a lucky thing for both of us I hadn't let him in the first time. One look at his uber dirty black adidas tracksuit pants, singlet peppered with stains of unspecified origin and his general 'I may have just come from robbing a bank' demeanour and I probably would have koshed him over the head with the wok first and asked questions later.
But, tracksuit pants or no, he did appear to be there on legitimate business and went out to the balcony to check it out. He talked (presumably) intelligently about leaks, cracks and grout. And about this point I thought things were going pretty well: the guy was legit, I'd done the smart thing and I'd gotten away with a pretty dodgy lie.
Because it was about this time that tracksuit-man happened to mention he had popped his head over my balcony earlier that day while fixing the roof below... Had Popped. His Head. Over. My. Balcony...
... presumably moments before he rang my buzzer to be told I was hosting a baby shower. On my balcony. Uh huh. Awesome. The smug bastard knew I had lied. He knew it and I knew that he knew it.
I got him the hell out of there as soon as I could.
But the sorry footnote to this sad little tale is that I need to call my old mate tracksuit man this week to let him know if it's okay to go ahead and fix the cracks on the balcony.
At this point in our tenuous relationship I fear I have so little hand - having already been exposed as a distrustful, lying, snob that the only way to fix things is to let him into the apartment and help him carry my TV, computer and assorted valuables out to his car myself.