Yesterday I had one of the strangest experiences I have ever had. I was in North London for an appointment and the plan was to meet a colleague outside the offices of the client. I arrived in the area a little early so I went for a 10 minute walk around the area. It's not a nice area.
It started raining, then really raining, then bucketing down, so I quickly made my way to the offices and waited under the awning at the cafe next door. I only had 3 or 4 minutes to wait for my colleague. Now I say cafe, but it was more like an empty room with a couple of tables and chairs.
After about 2 minutes, a lady came out of the cafe (she looked foreign and a bit rough) and the conversation went something like this:
Woman: [in a pleasant tone] "Hello. Why don't you come in for a tea?"
Me: "That's very kind of you, but I don't have time."
Woman: "No? I'm sure you have time - come in for a cup of tea."
Me: "I am meeting someone for a meeting next door, so I really do not have time. Thanks anyway."
Woman: [slightly annoyed tone] "You should come in for tea."
Woman: "What do you do next door?"
Me: "I work in financial services and am seeing a client."
Woman: "I have a business and need financial advice, so come inside."
Me: "I don't give advice, I give training to advisers"
Woman: [even more annoyed tone] "Come in for tea!"
Me: [in a slightly raised voice] "I... do... not... have... time!"
Woman: [now angry] "You stand outside my business dissing me and wont spend money!"
Woman: "You are dissing me and my business. I need money"
Me: "I am not 'dissing' you. I do not want to go inside."
Woman: "I need financial advice, come inside!"
Me: [defensive tone now] "I will come in next time I visit."
Woman: [in Romanian (I found out later) semi-shouting] "ajshkh fh kdfud a kjh dau hoahsd!"
Me: "Sorry, I don't understand."
Woman: [very angry and now in my face] "I am Romanian" (as if that was meant to mean something to me)
At this point she moved towards the door and I honestly thought she was going to get someone to beat me up. So I walked quickly round the corner and my colleague was coming the other way. I very briefly told him what was happening and he suggested we get inside the client's offices straight away.
Inside the office I was relieved to be safe... and then the buzzer on the front door went and the receptionist picked up the phone.
Receptionist: "No, we do not have someone here that wants tea... no-one is paying you for tea!"
My colleague told the receptionist to put the phone down and not answer it if it rang again. The mad woman outside was buzzing all of the businesses in the building looking for me!
I recounted the story to my client who said that the cafe was not all it appeared to be. At 5.30 each evening, lots of top of the range Mercedes and BMW's turn up and men go into the cafe. They don't know what goes on in there, but this bland room would not be a place to attract wealthy men, that's for sure. You can draw your own conclusions.
I sat through the meeting wondering if I was going to be greeted outside by a big Romanian man looking for trouble! It didn't help that I had to leave earlier than my colleague. Luckily, the coast was clear and I walked very briskly to my car. I would advise you, if visiting Edgware, not to go into a Romanian cafe!