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.