Did I mention lately that I hate my job? More specifically, I hate my co-workers; not that I actually work alongside anybody as such, but I’ve just managed to up the generalised levels of hate in the vicinity of the entire store, which is quite an achievement for a lunch hour in which I intended to walk round the block and eat a Cherry Cheesecake.
It started with a desperate attempt to avoid conversation with Coll. I usually wait until he’s distracted before heading through the security room, and he seemed to be engrossed in one of his nostrils when I made a dash for it. Just as I reached the outer door, though, his hand shot out to a monitor on which a toddler could be seen chewing on a sealed pack of Tim Tams while its mother scooped chocolate yogurts into the basket.
“Lain! C’mere! Theft in progress,” he said, zooming in as milk-teeth and drool penetrated the outer layer of packaging.
I didn’t want to know, but I couldn’t help it.
“How d’ya mean theft?”
“Kid’s eating the goods. Not been paid for.”
“C’mon, Coll, everyone shuts up their brats with a snack, you don’t know she won’t pay.”
He smirked at me, triumphant.
“This kid’s known to me. Seen him at it before. He’ll eat a couple and drop the packet somewhere so it won’t be on ’em when they leave. Reckons he’s disposed of all the evidence, but this time I got a clear line of sight, all backed up and copied. Little bastard’s going down.”
I was searching for the words that would get me out of air-sharing distance in the minimum timeframe when Kris appeared at the top of the stairs and started on the usual “I know you normally have a little you-space at lunchtime, but Fliss and me were wondering—” so I jumped at the long-avoided lunch date.
It has to be said, she handled the shock well. I’d thought she only even asked anymore out of a misjudged sense of obligation, but it seems Kris and Fliss, who work the Leisure and Lifestyle aisles, genuinely wanted to get to know me better. Well, I sure made them regret that.
What I didn’t realise was that this was a special retirement lunch for Supervisor Sam (apparently there’d been a “Community Memo”, but I’ve got a filter to delete those.) By the time I realised it was not going to be three of us grabbing a Panini at the store café but a whole bunch of people, including Jezza, at a semi-fancy restaurant two blocks down, it was too late to do anything about it. I am not good with formality – I’m barely passable at informality, and most comfortable with no mality at all. But given that I earn a living as a loudmouth, people don’t get that. Elaine’s so funny and confident and loud – she’ll be the life of the party! So every time there’s a lull and people stop talking, they turn and look at me, like I’m meant to be entertaining them. That’s a lot of pressure for a Friday lunchtime. So naturally I started drinking.
Those of you who heard some of my whimsical anecdotes around the campfire after a couple of tinnies can probably finish this story for yourselves. I can’t remember exactly what it was I said to Jezza when he told me how much he’d appreciated my recent lack of deviation from the script, but it was specific, derogatory and involved polenta.
I’m still waiting for the comeback. I doubt he’ll actually fire me – not for this, anyhow – that’d make him look petty, and he’d hate to look petty. But the only reason he’s not fired me before now is the knowledge that he’ll get quizzed about it by my totally unsought and slightly unsettling fan club downstairs. Now they’ve seen me in action, up close and personal, I doubt he’ll have as much difficulty justifying it, and with Sam’s imminent departure putting a promotion in the offing, nobody’ll be wanting to cross Jezza. Guess my days here are numbered.