Tales from the Secret Agent: The demanding old dears

By Lisa James
Home » Tales from the Secret Agent: The demanding old dears

It never surprises me, the clients that darken our door.

Two sweet old ladies in their early 80s arrive, lugging about 20 river cruise brochures into the office with everything from five-star luxury cruises to a rowing boat with crab paste sandwiches included.

Immediately I am informed they have a list of requirements: It must be the Rhine, as, after the war, one of the ladies had a dalliance with a young German officer and she spent many a happy day canoodling on the banks of that particular river.

I’m picturing her in a jersey two piece and him in Lederhosen.

It never came to anything, she tells me – his mother didn’t approve.

Initially, I can’t believe such a sweet lady wasn’t good enough for the German mutter, but I soon begin to change my mind.

They both have hearing issues and, after an hour of me shouting at them, they settle on a cruise. I print reams of information and a confirmation when it’s announced.

“Oh, we wanted separate cabins as Agnes snores,” one says.

Despite being told: “We are pensioners and want the cheapest option,” I requote two cabins that are so near the engines to keep the cost down I think there will be teeth in glasses by the bed rattling all night.

The booking is amended and I again start to scream the itinerary details at them. They are happy and off they go. 

Fast forward to this week and the tickets are ready.  In they come, having been to our local tearoom for lunch, covered in crumbs and wearing bird’s nest hats.

Tickets are gone through and then we hit a major problem…single cabins with single beds.

It turns out both ladies prefer a double bed as Agnes fell out of a single on the Fred Olsen in 1998 and has PTSD.  However, the ladies have no intention of paying for it!

I explain that this was pointed out when they booked and they had nodded along all the way through the booking, agreeing to the itinerary and paying in full.

“Well, I’m bitterly disappointed,” says lady 1.

“Yes,” agrees lady 2. “Bitterly.”

Trying not to laugh, I offer to speak to the cruise company and see if it can be changed and I’m rewarded with a ‘beg pardon?’ in stereo.

I scream it again at them and it’s agreed that I should tell the cruise company how ‘bitterly disappointed’ they are and that if they can’t be changed for free they will never cruise with this company again (my favourite threat from clients).

A quick call to the cruise company and they very kindly upgrade them to double for single use. However, both ladies think this is their right and wander out without so much as a ‘thank you’.

There’s nowt so queer as folk, as they say.

Read more tales from the Secret Agent:

The one with the shivering dog

The one about the dearly departed

The one where a client gets the jitters

The one about the wonders of the interweb

And click here for even more episodes

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