A typical list of objects would be:
- Glasses Case.
- Gloves removed one finger at a time without hurry.
- Pen/tiny pencil that slots into the wire edge of the diary crowned with a white plastic disk.
- Wallet/Credit Card/Purse.
- A Notebook of some description.
- This Season's Brochure with pages marked.
- Any other Leaflets they just collected in the foyer.
Quite often they book single seats, occasionally two seats but usually only one. There are many other people who only book one seat of course, for a variety of reasons but The Lingerer is a breed set apart by distinctive characteristics.
Here is an example of a conversation with a Lingerer.
"So, you've booked four shows at these prices, anything else I can help you with before I close the sale?"
"Just remind me again where the seats are for each show."
We go through the booking again, sometimes this is the second or third time. The Lingerer is efficiently cross referencing dates in their diary full of empty pages. They are also watching you closely for any signs of insubordination, a sigh, rolling of eyes, tutting. Any of these could mean extending the time they will spend at the desk. As they watch you they purse up in their lips and fix you with a concentrated stare.
I have made the mistake in the past of challenging The Lingerer with regard to information given. I will never make such a fundamental error again.
Eventually, the tickets are printed as the booking is verbally confirmed with times, dates, seating areas and prices again before being put into a wallet and handed over only for it to be opened up and spread out over the counter. Each ticket is scrutinised individually for any possible discrepancies of which there are none. We do ask customers to check their tickets before leaving the counter but The Lingerer likes to go the whole hog in front of you.
At this point the rules of the game shift slightly. It is no longer about booking tickets but about commanding attention in a controlled, manipulative manner. They are completely aware that a queue has formed behind them but this does not deter them from claiming their right to remain at the desk a while longer.
"Do you have any information regarding The Classics's Season?"
"Oh yes, all the prices and dates are in your brochure." You know the one you've thumbed from cover to cover and made detailed reports on.
"Oh, is it? I must have missed those."
"Is there anything else we can do for you Sir/Madame?"
They know there is nothing else but cannot quite bring themselves to move away, a captive audience is the life blood for obsessive personalities and The Lingerer is no exception.
"I think that's everything for now, I can always pop back again if I've forgotten something can't I?" they reply with a chilling smile.
At this point your heart sinks and you pray that you're on another duty when they do, or better still, another planet.
"Yes of course you can come back anytime."
The endless ceremony of putting the tickets away safely ensues, followed by the diary. The glasses are carefully removed, folded and put back in their case. Gloves are deliberately returned to each digit in turn and pressed into place by knitting fingers together. The coat is buttoned up and finally the bag is checked again.
"Thank you, you have been very helpful."
The smile freezes on my face, my eyes have glazed over. I deal with the next customer in a traumatised state acutely aware that the Lingerer has circumnavigated the foyer, avoided the exit and rejoined the queue.