Friday, December 21, 2012
Santa Baby - Friday
‘Don’t be such an old spoilsport.’ Chides negotiator S playfully. She knows which buttons to press.
‘I’m not.’ I counter unconvincingly.
‘We all just buy something for £5 then wrap it up and do a lucky dip.’ Continues S, championing the office Secret Santa idea.
‘What can you get worth having for a fiver?’ I carp. The list is quite extensive as it happens.
‘It’s just a bit of fun.’ Suggests assistant manager T, adding. ‘There’s not much else to do.’
He has a point, the year end target became unassailable back in September, for the last few days the phones have fallen silent and the only footfall has been outside the office window as desperate shoppers seek inspiration for presents that will be re-gifted in the New Year.
‘You can get some great tins of biscuits at Tesco for cheap money.’ Says porky finance man M. He knows about overfilled plates and mortgage rates but has no idea when enough is enough.
We should be talking to existing vendors and encouraging them to trim their asking prices, rather then their Christmas tree. Should be gently suggesting a tacky inflatable snowman on the lawn and more lights than Blackpool can muster, on their front elevation, isn’t helping viewings. Should be chasing failed valuations and telling prospective vendors buyers are waiting if they are realistic on price expectations. Advising them to ignore the skewed surveys showing ever-rising values, driven by central London la-la land and Russian oligarchs trying to launder dubiously obtained profits. But sometimes you have to know when to stop.
‘Can I go first?’ Asks S excitedly, her vast breasts jiggling in acknowledgement of the fact I’m allowing staff to slope off to the shops to do their present buying, in the absence of any diary appointments. I’m still not sure if S’s décolletage is a feature or a benefit, but I’d happily support both.
‘Your turn boss.’ Says trainee F when he returns, several bags in his paws, the one from a countrywide pet supplies store has me worried and intrigued in equal measure. I know his girlfriend is rough, but that’s ridiculous. I decide not to ask and to watch carefully when he places his offering in the Secret Santa sack, later.
‘Excuse me can you point me in the right direction for ladies’ underwear?’ Asks a grey-haired old lady earnestly. I suppress the sort of monumental sigh that might weaken foundations and have ‘Bomber’, our sale-killing surveyor, reaching for his seismometer and ordering an engineer’s report.
‘I don’t work here madam.’ I say, for the umpteenth time. It happens whenever I go to Marks and Spencer in my business suit. I don’t usually get an argument though.
‘You look like you should work here.’ Persists the old girl doggedly. I haven’t got a lapel badge on, I’m not wearing a green tie and I’ve not tried to flog her a store card, so I could beg to differ. Instead I send her in the direction of returns, where the queue is already building even before the Boxing Day sale.
‘Can I help you sir?’ Asks a female voice and I jump as if someone has tasered me. I let go of the silky nightdress I was unconsciously fingering and feel my cheeks go a crimson that doubtless matches the Basque and panty set I discounted moments ago. The shop assistant does have a name badge, and is about nineteen years old.
‘I’m looking for a present.’ I stutter, feeling like I did on my first ever valuation – hopelessly out of my depth and a bit of a tit.
‘For your partner?’ Asks the girl neutrally. Nobody assumes you’re married any more, or heterosexual, or even a man wanting lingerie for someone other than himself. Progress of sorts, I guess.
‘Do you know what size she is?’ Cajoles the young woman artfully. I look at her, at the nightgown and try to stop an uncomfortable visualisation. The underwear version of the video house tour would just about cover it. Then my download freezes.
God knows, why I said: ‘She’s about your size.’
Now it’ll be me queuing at customer services on the 26th December.
Have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year and thanks for reading.