I don’t know how much longer I can stand it,” I said. “I may end up killing her, she’s driving me nuts.” I was in the local wine bar with Stephi, my best mate hoping for a sympathetic ear.
“I take it you mean your new boss.” Stephi eyed me with interest. “I’m sorry Jen. I know you had your heart set on that job. I can see you’re upset.”
“Upset? I’m thinking of committing murder.” I took a swig of Pinot Grigio and grimaced. “Anyway, it didn’t have to be me. Anyone from our department would have better than bringing in an outsider.”
“Perhaps they wanted new blood, you know, fresh ideas, someone a bit more dynamic than old Mr Bradbury. Everyone knew he was a soft touch, spent more time dozing in the office than working. The sales figures have been tanking for some time. She’s been brought in to turn things around. I don’t envy her that job.” Stephi was PA to the top brass and heard all the gossip.
“Well, I’m sure there are other people in the office who could have just as easily done that.” I took a gulp of wine.
“Oh I see.” A broad grin spread across Stephi’s face. “You mean Steve. Steve with the Rugby players shoulders, lead-melting eyes and mega-watt grin. I don’t think he’s quite what they had in mind.”
“Not only him,” I said, blushing like a kid caught with her hand in the cookie jar. “But I’d prefer working under him any day.”
“Yeah, I bet.” Stephi said with a gleam in her eye. She put her glass on the table. “It’s always difficult settling in with a new boss. She obviously wants to make her mark and prove to the Board that she’s a mover and shaker.”
“Well, she’s shaken me alright and I’m thinking of moving. Moving out.”
Stephi put her hand on my arm. “Don’t do anything hasty, I’d be devastated if you left.
I swigged the last of my wine and nodded towards Stephi’s almost empty glass. “Do you want a refill? Perhaps I can drown my despair in Pino Grigio.”
The next morning Rosemary, our new Head of Department, called me into her newly decorated office. White walls, pot plants and walnut furniture replaced Mr Bradbury’s solid oak and mahogany fittings, his bulging bookcases were gone and beige carpeting covered the floor. Rosemary looked a picture of cool efficiency in a blue suit with her blonde hair piled high on her head. She stood leaning against her desk, surveying me like a teacher surveys an unruly pupil. Steve was there too. He’d pulled her chair around to the side of her desk and sat staring at me with an inane grin on his face. Since she’d arrived they’d had numerous meeting in her office with the door closed. My stomach knotted.
She had a steely glint in her eye as she set out her expectations “I need you to pull out all the stops Jen, if I’m to convince the Board that an expansion in this department will uplift the firm’s current service delivery performance. This is really important,” she said. “I’d even go as far as to say your job depends upon it.”
As motivation goes, my motivation went. I’d spent a month getting ‘on message’ and ‘pushing the envelope.’ Now all I cared about was getting rid of Rosemary.
The next few weeks passed in a flash. Rosemary was seldom in the office. She had back-to-back meetings and was often out all day. Most days Steve went with her and I was left in the office doing the donkey work.
Orders flooded in and I was rushed off my feet. It was so unfair. If only I could think of a way to get rid of Rosemary, perhaps I would be the one going out with Steve.
My opportunity came the day before the Annual Conference. Rosemary called me into her office. “I’m giving a presentation to Conference tomorrow setting out the additional resources required for direct marketing over the Internet. I’ve set out my plans for synchronicity across functionality but need you to transfer them to power-point. Do you think you can do that for me?”
I nodded. I don’t suppose I have a choice, I thought.
“I knew I could rely on you Jen. She flashed me one of her more ingratiating smiles. “Can you e-mail it over directly to the Conference Centre ready for the morning? I’ve got to go over there and check out the arrangements. Thanks.”
I met up with Stephi for lunch next day. “You look a bit chirpier,” she said. “What have you been up to?”
“I’ve got Rosemary sorted,” I said, chuckling. “After today she’ll probably be moving on.”
“Yes. She’s got a phobia about spiders you know. There was one in her office when she was in there with Steve. She rushed them both out and got a cleaner to remove it. Apparently even pictures of spiders set her off.”
“So, when she asked me to type up her presentation about using the World Wide Web as a marketing tool, I thought what better way to demonstrate it than have a spider on the presentation.”
“Yes. A huge fat, hairy spider moving across every page. Some of them are quite animated.” I chuckled. “Well, she did ask me to think outside of the box.”
“You idiot!” Stephi glared at me. “It isn’t Rosemary who’s terrified of spiders, it’s Steve. She said it was her to spare his embarrassment. And, she’s not giving the presentation either, she’s with a client. Steve’s doing it.” A look of horror crossed her face. “He’ll go mental,” she said.
My phone bleeped – a text from Steve. He wants to see me in Rosemary’s office – NOW. Oh dear, I thought. It looks as though there was a shortfall in my compliance reality and I might be the one moving on after all.
If you enjoyed this story there are plenty more in my short story collections available here.