‘You’re bubbly you aren’t you?’
The caretaker took time out from emptying the bins to ‘flatter’ Tara.
‘I like that. I like bubbly girls.’
By ‘bubbly’ the man meant ‘large’. Tara is quite large. He stood waiting for a reaction and looked like Benny Hill waiting for a ripple of laughter – or at least a titter.
As office environments go, this is probably the worst I have ever had the misfortune to find myself in. I worked in the NHS in the eighties. This is less progressive and less modern. It is also a haven for the work-shy. I reckon I was more economically productive than a lot of these people when I was signing on.
3 men shuffled into the room the other day. I thought they were gardeners coming for a tea-break. No, they constituted the ‘IT Team.’ It took them several hours to plug in a couple of new computers. Troubleshooting was a group effort and literally involved much head-scratching and switching machines off and on repeatedly. The whole atmosphere is like that of a small and dysfunctional communist state – in which no one is prepared to rock the boat or whistle-blow for fear of losing their staff discount at Brantano Shoes.
Behind me sits Darren. Darren is a bearded man in his mid-thirties who lives with his parents. He is engaged to be married to a woman in Canada – whom he met online. He will go and marry her shortly. He will then be obliged to return straight home to the bright lights of Ferryhill. This is due to a policy adopted by the Canadians to prevent ‘green card’ marriages resulting from an understandable exodus from County Durham. Darren has a hipster beard and a short back and sides. His beard is dark and lustrous and has the look of a disguise I once saw Peter Sellers wear as Inspector Clouseau.
Darren’s conversation lacks the lustre of his beard. He seems to be obsessed with his teeth and the price he is paying in fillings and extractions for his lifelong love of sugar. Darren talks about his teeth a lot. His dental anxiety could stem from his impending marriage and his eventual move to Canada. I’ve been there - they’ve got great teeth.
Facing me is Pat. Pat knows a lot about careers guidance and shares this knowledge on the phone all day every day with anyone who will listen. Pat brought me in through an agency. I applied for the role while job-hunting late at night.I would now advise anyone against late night job searches.