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I couldn’t believe it happened. This was the first time in days that I haven’t overslept yet I was still going to be late. I had only been with the organisation for a week, and I was keen to make a good impression. This job sort of happened by sheer accident and I must admit at first I was very hesitant to take the post, but I really didn’t have that many options. I managed to adapt very quickly, and the others were really friendly; it’s nice to be in an environment where everyone wants to help out – the last place I had worked in had a selfish undertone.
Walking down the corridor I turned right but the place didn’t look familiar. The name on the door said Rejects; it was funny because I don’t remember there being a department with that title. As I pondered my surroundings an elderly gentlemen rushed past, nearly knocking me over.
‘Excuse me!’ I shouted at him.
‘Sorry can’t stop am very busy! We are expecting four coach loads this morning!’
‘I know!’ I seemed to mutter to no one.
Suddenly the door opened and a young lady with long black hair appeared in the doorframe.
‘Hello stranger, can I help you?’
She had lovely long legs, which were covered in black stockings. Her body transfixed me; the hourglass figure hugged the black dress, which flowed with the contours rippling down her stature.
‘Um, I’m sorry to stare, but you must have the most perfect body I have ever seen.
She let out a little giggle. ‘Why thank you! We don’t get your type down here very often. I can tell you haven’t been here that long.’
‘Only a few days really, I am still finding my way round.’ I looked into her eyes that were the dreamiest blue I have ever seen this woman had a face of an angel.
‘Sorry but could you direct me to bay 93, I have to be there in five minutes.’
‘Sure, go back down the corridor and take the lift to floor 10, then turn right, go over the bridge and you should see bay 93 on your left.’
I thanked her and smiled, I knew I had to leave but something rooted my feet to the spot.
‘Shouldn’t you be going?’
‘Yeah but before I go can I ask you something?’
She stared at me with her sweet face, not really sure what I was going to ask her. I could feel her eyes invading me; the silence was killing us so I forced the words from my mouth.
‘Look; would you like to go out sometime?’
I watched her face crack; she made a small squeak that tumbled into a laugh.
‘I’d love to go out with you, why not, you seem really nice and I haven’t met many decent men for a while!’
I almost jumped in the air, but I want to be cool in front of her.
‘Ok, when and what time?’
‘How about tonight. Come back here and meet me after work.’
I moved toward her and kissed her cheek, she continued to giggle. As I turned to run she waved at me and blew me a kiss back – what a result!
As I followed her directions I begin to panic. I remembered I have only done this once before and am not really sure on the speech, so I go over my notes one more time. Suddenly I crashed into another Welcome Man, as we are known. We both tumbled to the floor along with our notes.
‘Sorry!’ we both cried in unison.
We both collected the papers off the floor and I begin separating mine.
‘I see you are a Welcome Man as well! How long you been at the job?’
I answered out of breath and in an irritated manner, which I don’t mean to pass onto him.
‘Only a few days.’
‘Ah a new boy eh? Don’t worry son, it gets easier believe me. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and there’s nothing too it, just remember to make them feel comfortable and answer any questions they have; remember there will be lots of questions.’
It was good to meet someone who has the experience and could teach me so much. In other circumstances I would have happily chat all day, drunk in the knowledge and experience but I can’t.
‘See you have bay 93, well good luck!’
‘Thanks!’ I screamed as I ran into the distance to try and catch the elevator. 10th floor is a long way down. I managed to get my foot in before the door closes, which seemed to irritate the people already waiting. Before the door closes I screamed at my colleague.
‘Maybe we can meet another time?’
‘Sure! I am normally in bay 12!’
The doors locked shut and the sudden lurch pushed the lift downwards. I forgot how fast they were because within 10 seconds the doors were open and the automatic voice was proclaiming what floor we were on.
I rushed over the bridge into bay 93 and quickly steadied my breath; I don’t want the newcomers to think I rushed getting here. I had to remember that for the next hour it was about them. So I did some warm up exercises and tried to relax every muscle in my body, I shook my head and fixed my smile in place being careful not to look like a demented Cheshire cat. The coach pulled in and it looked very busy. I watched the people step off in single file, they reminded me of new convicts arriving at prison; but I had to remember that this was all new to them. I shuffled forward, waved, smiled and took another deep breath.
‘Hello and welcome! My name is Dan and I am here to make sure your transition is as smooth as possible. Now it will seem a little bewildering to begin with, but believe me things get better with time. Now would you all like to follow me.’
I guided the group toward the double doors and waited until everyone was gathered round.
‘Now if you could put on your sunglasses which were given to you as you boarded the coach.’
‘Excuse me but I don’t have one.’
This always happened, you always had to carry extra pairs in case of emergency. I handed a pair to the young gentlemen. Sometimes you could get a sense of how they arrived here, if it was sudden or slow. And it was possible, if you looked deep into their soul, to work out if the transition was painful or relatively pain free. I hadn’t developed my skills enough to read that well, I could just trace faint feelings or places of pain.
It was a hazard of being a Welcome Man, it could drive you mad, and you had to try and block those feelings out when dealing with newcomers. As everyone put their sunglasses on, a happy feeling filled me to the core, this was the bit I loved, it was serenity forever, they were going to be content forever. I ushered the group forward, as I did the doors whooshed open and the light was almost blinding that you couldn’t see a thing even with the glasses attached.
‘Right a few things before we go in. Please stay in the group, unfortunately the light sensor detector can create a few lost souls, so stick nearby. It only lasts for a few seconds so please don’t be scared.’ I smiled at them again, just to let them know that not to be frightened. Newcomers rarely got frightened, the light sensors are very powerful and do there job well, only one casualty in two thousand years was good odds. I began my speech again.
‘Welcome all of you! This is going to be an exciting time in your afterlife. Heaven is free for you to roam, nowhere is off limits except the boss’s office. Please do not go and visit the boss unless he requests a meeting with you. I am sure you can appreciate that he is very busy. If you have any worries then please feel free to contact me or any other Angel I think you’ll find us all willing to help. So all that is left for me to say is enjoy!’
As the door closed behind us I couldn’t help but think about the loved ones back on earth. Many people take different views when someone dies, but if they knew what was waiting for them after they had passed away, they would all be trying to get in! As long as people on Earth believed in looking after one another, being kind to their fellow man, and being a decent human being then I knew I would never be out of a job.
Copyright David Mackeeg 2003