‘Absolute snakes everywhere. You can’t trust anyone these days. They’re all just out to get whatever they can and screw anyone not in their silly little club.’
About five minutes ago, Sheila had been overlooked when a tub of biscuits had been passed around the office. It had not gone down well.
‘Just because you didn’t happen to go to their posh little boarding school with mummy and daddy’s money. Just because you’re not noshing off the right managers. Just because you have some goddam self-respect!’
We worked for Carphone Warehouse just outside Wigan, and Sheila had ‘noshed off’ at least two of the team leaders since she started here six months ago.
‘I mean. This is the problem with the world today. Nobody has any loyalty anymore. It’s ridiculous, loyalty costs nothing.’
I should have argued that loyalty can actually carry quite a steep price. Instead, I stuck to what I knew was the expected script.
‘So, what are you gonna do about it, Sheils?’ I asked, as though I genuinely cared.
‘That’s the question, innit mate?’
She was correct. That was the question.
‘You gonna quit?’
Please, please, let her quit.
We’d started as part of the same intake and I’d latched on to Sheila because, well, she was the only other woman around my age and by far the loudest of the group. Also, this was my first job with actual other people and I was scared. It took about a month for me to realise what a horrible mistake I’d made, but by then the die was cast.
‘Nah, mate, you know I’d never give them the satisfaction.’
That’s what I feared.
‘I’m just gonna go on strike.’
‘Really?’ I was surprised.
‘Well, not strike strike, but, y’know, do less. They don’t wanna include me in the treats, I don’t wanna sell their phones.’
There were two problems with this. Firstly, we worked on commission. Secondly, it was hard to see how Sheila could physically do less. As it was, the toilet seat saw more of Sheila’s arse than her desk chair did. Partly because we weren’t allowed mobiles at our desks, but also, I suspected, because of how she ‘just nipped for a coffee’ every time the boards showed there were calls queuing to be answered.
‘You do right,’ came out of my mouth before I even realised what I was saying.
It was at this point Ollie crouched down beside my chair with the biscuit tin and gave me that smile of his. I could feel Sheila’s eyes and knew I should turn up my nose and send Ollie away as if he’d personally offended me with his offer.
I knew that was what I was supposed to do.
I kept my face stiffly away from Sheila as I let my hand float over the tin to choose one of the biscuits.
‘Take two,’ Ollie said as he gently nudged my thigh with his elbow. ‘There’s plenty left today.’
Reader, I took two.