Friday 24th August
A warm, wafting stench of body odour assaults my senses as someone walks behind me. A squawking, exaggerated laugh in my periphery. A dull constant throb of distant air conditioning, mingled in with a dozen phone calls, all competing for attention.
The random but frequent slam of a toilet door, followed by the artificially floral air-freshener scent, drifting over, heavy and mixed in with cheap bleach.
A middle-aged man struts past my line of sight, his hair cut like a twelve-year-old-boy, his shirt tucked into trousers, pulled up high, gesticulating as he argues with his Bluetooth headset. His face slug-like, his neck and chin blend into his body, his eyes mobile, poking out on stalks.
Welcome to work. Gainful employment and regular pay, in exchange for only your eternal soul and mental stability. A sensory circus in a dull and meaningless existence.
4:30 pm on a Friday and someone has scheduled a conference call, probably to satisfy their inflated ego. Fifty-seven people have dialled in. The call subject: lost to the mists of time, some kind of all-hands meeting. Absolutely no one cares what the point is anyway. They merely want their chance to raise their ‘personal brand’, or something equally vulgar. I can see the comments in the meeting chat: “Awesome deal!”, “Nice work!”, “Go, team!”. None of them are sincere, none of them are congratulating, they only scream ‘look at me, look how great I am’.
I’m at my desk, headset on, dialled into this pointless waste of my life, checking emails, filling in a tech-sheet, browsing the web, and logged into the local instant message system. I also have my phone in my hand, scrolling Twitter. I multi-task, therefore I am.
[16:35] Ward, Terry B:
This call is intensely boring.
Pissing with rain outside. Hope it clears up for the weekend.
[16:36] O’Brien, Ted:
Meant to be nice.
I open up my weather app. It duly insults me, and then presents a weekend outlook of pleasant weather, not too hot, not too cold. No rain, minimal wind. That’s perfect for my needs.
[16:38] Ward, Terry B:
I still always find it amazing that tons and tons of water, and snow and stuff, can be just floating around up there in the sky.
[16:39] O’Brien, Ted:
Magic elves do it.
Ted is a programmer. He keeps me sane. They keep him shuttered away in some distant office. I haven’t seen him for years. Doesn’t matter, instant message is a direct link to someone’s brain. You can tell an awful lot from a short string of text.
Someone on the conference call is talking about gold awards given to team members who did a fantastic job; I didn’t get one.
[16:42] Ward, Terry B:
I thought so.
The same lads who do the rainbows?
[16:44] O’Brien, Ted:
Ya, different group within that group though.
Someone on the conference call is now reading out a list of silver awards given to team members who did a great job; I didn’t get one of those either.
[16:46] Ward, Terry B:
They know each other though?
Say ‘Hi’ as they walk the halls?
[16:51] O’Brien, Ted:
They know each other to see each other, but they wouldn’t be very close.
More like acquaintances.
Someone on the call is now presenting a long list of bronze awards given to team members who did an okay job. Basically, they showed up to work every day and didn’t murder anyone. Oddly, I didn’t get one of those either. Last time I checked, no one died due to my project management skills. I’ve worked here for ten years, a decade of my life doing the same thankless tasks, nothing ever changes or improves, despite the constant meetings to discuss what went wrong and what we can do better next time.
It was exciting at the start, meeting new customers, coming up with innovative IT solutions for their specific needs, travelling around Europe, America, and even Asia, staying in expensive hotels, eating expensive food, shitting expensive shits, all on the company credit card. But now I am tired, bored, beaten down to a bitter core, forgotten by management and drifting slowly into obscurity. It could be time for a change. #YaThink?
I randomly post a tweet as an idea pops into my head.
Just came up with an invention for a device that would totally eliminate fart noises. #MillionEuroIdea
I send the tweet off into the world, not really sure why because rarely does anyone read them. I don’t know how, but I have over a thousand ‘followers’. I think most of them are bots or spam accounts or something. But still, I feel an idea written down is an idea saved. This type of random thought sometimes just appears in my head, I’ve learnt to mostly ignore them. Still worth saving sometimes because you never know what will happen.
Some days at work I’m busier than a one-armed man trying to masturbate in a shed full of angry bees. But today has dragged, the hours passing glacially, probably because I’m distracted with my weekend plans. I just want to get out of here and get this weekend over with.
[16:54] Ward, Terry B:
That’s the problem in these big teams.
If they worked together more - we might have more snow-bows.
Which would be nice.
[16:54] O’Brien, Ted:
Ya, it would brighten up the day.
[16:54] Ward, Terry B:
Bring a bit of colour to the winter.
The call takes an ugly turn, handed over to the sales manager for Europe, explaining in a friendly tone, how each and every one of us must contribute to the whole team, by filling in new time management reports every week. Documenting every piss and shit-break we take and how long it takes to do it.
[16:55] Ward, Terry B:
You don’t see many rainbows at night either.
The night elves are a different team I’d say.
[16:56] O’Brien, Ted:
They repair shoes.
[16:56] Ward, Terry B:
[16:56] O’Brien, Ted:
Totally different group.
[16:56] Ward, Terry B:
Different cost centre?
[16:57] O’Brien, Ted:
Yep, they get night-shift allowance though, extra pay.
I must have forgotten to set my chat status to ‘Away’, because another chat window pops open on my screen.
[16:59] Greene, Judith:
Hi Terry, have you got a second? Just wanted to ask about the procurement on those cards for DeltaWave.
Seriously? 4:59 on a Friday? No, I don’t have a fucking second. I quickly close the chat window and change my status to ‘Appear Offline’. I’d rather drown in a bucket of rat piss than talk to her now.
We at C.S.Tech are happy to take care of your custom IT installations, from scoping to lights on, we have you covered!
‘Terrence B. Ward, Custom Project Manager’
That’s what it says on my business cards. Cards that I never give to anyone.
Terry Brian Ward. My parents, Monty Python fans and a tiny bit cruel.
T.B. Ward - if I hear another joke about being consumed…
[16:59] Ward, Terry B:
That’s at least something for them.
I don’t though! So I’m outta here.
Smell you later Ted.
[17:00] O’Brien, Ted:
Smell you later Terry.
The call wraps up on time thankfully, and I’ve already prepared to leave on the dot of five. My laptop is in my bag, and I’m up and heading for the door quicker than a silent fart fills a meeting room after a canteen curry lunch. But I leave a small packet of salt on my chair to keep the slug-people away.
I’ve got things to organise after work, walking into town rather than driving home, I need to pick up a rental van for the weekend.
After a wet walk to the van rental place, I grab a takeaway pizza and drive home, wondering all the way if this weekend plan is going to be a pointless waste of time.