The fluorescent man outside the Treasury

HM Treasury’s head office is a very grand building on Horse Guards Road. A man stands outside it wearing a fluorescent bib throughout the business day. He blocks the left-hand door which is itself locked, and people are forced to use the right-hand door to both enter and leave the building, often causing confusion and blockages.

Yet I am uncertain as to his role.

Whenever I enter the building for a meeting, I always treat him as a greeter. My aim, purely for my own amusement, is to get past him without being challenged. Nine times in ten, I succeed. I always use the gently-inclined ramp rather than the steps outside the building. I walk with purpose, say good morning/afternoon and waltz in—figuratively—and skip my way up the stairs—less figuratively—en route to reception.

Occasionally, there is an awkward moment where the chap looks like he may be challenging me as to my purpose, but nerves seem to get the better of him and off I skip. In some respects, I regard this scenario as an even greater personal success than the uninterrupted walk, as the very possibility of challenge was averted.

And on very rare occasions, he asks as to my purpose. I say I’m there for a meeting, which more often than not is true, and breathe a sigh of relief at having secured entry into the building, albeit sporting a face of defeat.

(Note, I’ve never been refused entry. Not yet, at least.)

So for people intent on entering the building, his presence is useless. Unless other people arriving to attend meetings are treated differently to myself, of course, which I very much doubt. Which suggests that his only purpose relates to those people not intent on entering the building. Or at least those not intending to enter to attend for a meeting.

Perhaps his very presence is intended as a deterrent to those intent on entering the building for nefarious reasons. But if that’s the case, you’d have thought he’d do a better job interrogating the innocent to at least give the impression that the soon-to-be-guilty will have an obstacle to negotiate before doing their dubious deeds.

This is what keeps me awake at night.

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One Response to “The fluorescent man outside the Treasury”

  1. Flourescent Treasury Man (aka Ben) on March 29th, 2011 22:36

    The blond uncertain approaching the Treasury

    HM Treasury’s head office is a very grand building on Horse Guards Road. It is my role to patrol it and ensure it is not adversely encroached upon by nefarious miscreants. I stand outside it wearing a fluorescent bib throughout the business day. The bib signifies my authority and simultaneously induces a preferred visitor behaviour – namely, by appearing to ‘officially’ block the left-hand door (which is actually locked anyway), I am able to better marshal visitor flow via the right-hand door without it being directly called into question. This makes for a more orderly arrangement.

    As visitors approach, I switch between greeting, ignoring and mildly challenging them in order to generate a predictably disconcerting air of unpredictability. One young, blond, bespectacled chap walks the gently-inclined ramp with such (patently faux) authority as if to demonstrate that his admittance is completely beyond reproach. While I am aware of both his identity and pre-approved purpose, I keep him on his waltzing toes by simply (and somewhat half-heartedly) challenging his one visit in ten.

    On such occasions, he exudes an unusual sense of victory in circumventing the feeblest and most tokenistic of inquisitions, but overlooks my far more significant victory in surreptitiously shepherding him through the right-hand door without fuss. He’ll confirm he is there for a meeting, and with his attendances perfectly matching my meticulous meeting registers, I’ve never had to refuse him entry. Not yet, at least.

    Should he ever try to attend unannounced, he’ll meet with the requisite force to deny him entry to the building (no matter which door), while my luminous presence shall continue to deter mere passers-by from afar. I pride myself just as much on my efficient and unflustered command of the right-hand door (and with it, the building’s fundamental security) as I do in providing any soon-to-be-guilty defectors with a deceptively yet suitably long enough rope by which to hang themselves.

    This enables me to sleep soundly at night.

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