Monday, December 30, 2013
End Of Days - Tuesday
‘Good Christmas?’ Asks trainee F, after the shortest morning meeting on record. It’s the graveyard shift between the birth of Christ and the birth of another almighty hangover.
I ponder F’s question. Pleasingly, my sons were both home for the festivities, an increasingly rare occurrence. Equally gratifyingly, I wasn’t forced to mingle with too many unwanted family members and friends, death and an increasing propensity to not return non-business calls, saw to that.
‘Pretty good.’ I tell the failed Mensa applicant, apart from some joker seemingly swapping my favourite suit trousers for a pair 2 inches tighter, over the festivities. ‘You?’
F looks at me with those puppy dog eyes that usually make you want to chain him up outside and leave him to scare off unwanted visitors.
‘Bit rubbish.’ He finally says dolefully.
Probably the mad mother falling out with another “Uncle”, or one of his half-brothers taking his room and the contents of his wallet again. I should call Social Services but he’s a white male, so probably won’t match any quotas…
I hesitated before taking the working days between Christmas and New Year. But every now and then some long-distant socialist in me decides to lead by example and insist staff shouldn’t be given a job you aren’t prepared to do. I’d make an awful City banker. Politics is a no-no too.
‘Where’s B? Asks F as if he’s only just noticed our loose lettings lady is not at her station. I clocked it as soon as opening time arrived. I consider the options. Drunk still, almost certainly. Horrendously hung-over, a given. In a strange bed with a strange person - about 50/50 depending on how harsh the lighting was at her last port of call.
‘She’ll be in about lunchtime, I guess.’ I tell F. In the meantime we’ll field calls from irate tenants who had no heating over the holiday period, or suffered damp, either rising via the floods, or falling through the ceiling where someone’s washing machine overflowed. Not that F and I are busy. The diary has more gaps than a wino’s teeth. I’m only here because the bean counter boss insisted all offices had a skeleton staff and judging by the way my waistband is digging in, that shouldn’t have included me.
‘Is it always like this?’ Asks F mid-way through the morning as the procession of shoppers clutching sales bags flow past the door, but nobody actually comes in. The phone has only rung, as predicted, with problems for the still absent B in lettings. I’ve wandered to the back of the office several times to look at the diary, as if consulting it might magically provide a nice probate valuation or even a divisive matrimonial dispute. I’ve even been tempted by the dozen or so mini Bounty bars still sitting in the tub on top of the filing cabinet.
‘Pretty much.’ I tell F still irked he hasn’t offered me a cuppa, particularly as I made the drinks before he even arrived. I might be audibly dehydrating, unless the tinnitus is back.
‘I could have covered it this morning.’ Suggests F breezily. He couldn’t. Then the phone rings. It’s the bean counter boss. On a sun-bed somewhere hot again, judging by the reception.
‘How is it going?’ Probes the figure-fiddler. He knows how it’s going. He has the P & L accounts, the weekly key performance indicators and my invoice register. All I can add, is I’m half a stone heavier, tens of thousands light of the year end target and liable to die of thirst while a borderline retard looks on wondering why I’m lying on the office carpet leaking tears I can ill afford to shed.
‘Not too bad.’ I tell him. What does that mean? Screams a voice inside my head, as the bean counter echoes the thought, word for word - with just a hint of satellite lag.
‘Getting a few bites.’ I tell the boss, hoping a malarial mosquito is chowing down on him even as I prevaricate.
‘How was the boss, boss?’ Asks F, after I’ve ended the call.
‘We need to do better in the next twelve months.’
‘Isn’t that always the case?’
Happy New Year.