Thursday, July 11, 2013
Groundhog Day - Monday
‘How are you feeling?’ Asks my wife as I hop from leg to leg and try to pull my suit trousers up. I can feel the suntan fading even before the material covers my legs until a far off two weeks next summer. It’s a good question. Like most people in sales, you fret before you go away, hoping you won’t miss too many business opportunities and your colleagues keep those plates spinning for you. Then you begin to worry in a similar vein, a few days before you return. Not sure it’s healthy.
‘I hope they haven’t mucked too much up.’ I tell my wife to a headshake of dismay.
‘What?’ I query unnecessarily, as I lurch to one side and catch a trouser leg under my bad foot, tumbling on to the bed in a distant parody of our wedding night – only without the ardour.
‘You need to learn to let them get on with it.’ Chides my better half. ‘They are a good bunch.’
She’s right – although trainee F is a borderline retard, lettings lush B an incipient alcoholic and financial consultant M a glutton for policies and pies…..but broadly, she’s right.
‘I just don’t want my figures to go to pot every time I’m on holiday.’ I tell her as I tug the trouser waistband together and find either an extra inch of gut has appeared since I last donned the strides - or the dry cleaner has shrunk the material.
‘Looks like one figure already has.’ Says my wife with a mischievous grin.
Every year it gets harder and harder to eat drink and be merry without scale-bothering side effects, and every year it gets harder and harder to go back to the office and start all over again.
‘How do I look?’ I ask my wife. It’s a question I rarely pose and she asks every time we go to a social event. Turns out her lies are even less convincing than mine. My shirt collar is nipping at my neck and the throat-constricting clasp of a temporarily unaccustomed tie is already making me feel trapped.
‘God,’ I moan in despair as I glance in the mirror and see an older, browner version of me. ‘I’ve got more chins….’
‘Than a Chinese phone book?’ Finishes my wife flatly.
There was a time when she laughed at my jokes, or at least didn’t remind me she’d heard them all before.
‘The first day back is always the worst.’ She tells me at the door as she hands me my slightly battered brief case. She’s offered to buy me one of those trendy, leather, laptop-sized man bags but it only reminds me of my school satchel and I’m still trying to forget that particular trauma. Some of those teachers would be convicted and imprisoned by today’s standards and if I ever visit that maths teacher in a sheltered home I’ll happily knot all his orange emergency pull-cords at a height he can’t grab from the floor. Try working out the algebraic equation to contact a call centre 3,000 miles away as the cord swings back and forth at a pendulum rate of 30 beats to the minute while lying in a pool of your own piss, you old sadist.
‘Chins up.’ Offers my wife, with a chuckle. I smile all the way to the car, until the sciatic pain I’ve hardly felt when relaxed and in swim shorts, spears its way down my leg like the shock from a cattle prod. Even as I fire up the engine and the battery labours after fourteen days of inactivity, my stomach is gurgling like a washing machine on its first fill-up cycle. They now know labouring in dusty coalmines was ruinous to your health, and asbestos fitters – or at least their beneficiaries – have a path to financial recompense. It’s my bet that in years to come someone will realise continually escalating sales targets and rising opening hours will be an actionable offence. It’ll be a PPI mis-selling and compensation lawyers’ bonanza all over again. You heard it here first.
At the office not much has changed – including the stock, window display and sales pipeline.
I take an indigestion tablet and lift the phone.
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