We were looking forward to it. Finally, after months of talking, we’d booked a weekend away in regional Victoria. It would be peaceful. It would be tranquil. It would be everything we’d hoped it would be. But, in the age of Covid, even the best laid plans can be unlaid, and when a member of the family tested positive, everyone in the house was a close contact. Our plans were scuppered to the point they were entirely and irretrievably unscupperable.
To describe ourselves as ‘disappointed’ would be like referring to the sinking of the Titanic as ‘a bit of a let down’. We were completely devastated. Not only could we not go, we now had to unpick our arrangements and reschedule. This proved more difficult than we thought.
Our dinner reservations were simple enough – we just had to cancel. There was no consequence and no judgment and we’ll definitely be going back there at the first opportunity. We’d also booked in a fancy treatment. Initially, they asked for evidence of isolation and, for a moment, I contemplated sending a picture of a really unhappy nine year old, before they agreed to a refund in a mere seven to ten days. Granted, a refund would probably take upwards of a minute, maybe two, but I didn’t feel it was my place to quibble.
Then there was the accommodation. When we let them know, they were quick to respond. The email was dripping with sympathy, so much so that it was practically wet when it arrived. They expressed shock at this terrible turn of events. They expressed concern for our wellbeing and for those around us. They expressed their steely-eyed determination to charge us the full amount, regardless of the fact that we were no longer able to come.
I get it – why should they lose income as a result of our misfortune? But this was three days in advance and their chances of finding another customer was about as certain as the sun coming up. Odds were they’d lose nothing at all. To be clear, their intention to charge us the full, unholy whack was not contingent on whether or not they could replace us – they were going to do it regardless. Most people try to help when your plans get blown out of the water because of Covid. This person was an exception to that rule. What came next only made things worse.
In addition to offering to charge us for accommodation we were now legally forbidden from using, they sought to soften the blow with a hammer. In a futile bid to make us feel better, they offered us a fifty percent discount on our next stay, so long as it was midweek. As a result, not only were they proposing to take money for a thing we couldn’t have, they were now offering us a discount for something we had no intention whatsoever of using. Because, having been dudded once, our next booking with them was likely to be once hell had, officially, frozen over.
I can only assume that the property manager had a whole lot of salt she was desperate to be rid of. For nothing else could explain why she so eagerly sought to rub large quantities of the stuff into our still-festering wound. Having declared that she’d be taking our money and offering us something we’d never use, she then signed off with a smiley face Emoji.
In the name of all that is holy, how dare she! That’s like Napoleon Bonaparte sending a text message to Tsar Alexander, telling him he’s about to invade Russia and ending the message with the ‘thumbs up’. Or Winston Churchill finishing his ‘we will fight them on the beaches’ speech with the ‘laughing face with tears’ Emoji.
When judges hand down a life sentence, they don’t sign off with ‘heart eyes’. That would be confusing for everyone. It was outrageous. The ‘smiley face’ was simply not suited to the circumstances. It’s as though she was going out of her way to antagonize us further. It was highly effective.
There should be a law against using inappropriate Emojis. I assumed the sender was illiterate, because she was certainly failing to read the room. I don’t know much about Emojis, except there’s one for every occasion. Rather than a ‘smiley face’ perhaps something like a ‘skull and crossbones’ would have been closer to the mark. I, naturally enough, had a very specific Emoji in mind for my reply.
What kind of monster ransacks you and then winks? Obviously, I turned to the internet for answers. The website said in the event of a Covid disaster that you should try and reach a resolution with the property manager. Easier said than done – the flagrant misuse of the smiley face Emoji made it clear that we were dealing with a bona fide psychopath. Instead, I took the high road, letting her know that some members of our family would be making use of the property. That the family members in question were two goats and a half tonne heifer with a passion for eating furniture was beside the point. I’ll let her know after they their stay. And I’ll be sure to sign off with a suitable Emoji.