A Villain’s Perspective – Week 14 of the 52 week short story challenge

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I should have known that she meant trouble for me. There was something about that bird that really wound me up; she really knew how to push my buttons.

I was fresh out of college and in my first job when I met her. It was at an induction course for new staff and I was scheduled to do part of the health and safety briefing. I was a bit nervous when I saw the sea of faces in front of me but I got through it and handed over to Joanne; technically my senior, who was going to talk about safety at work.

Unfortunately for Joanne, she decided to wear a pair of high-heeled shoes that would never meet H & S standards; she fell off them on her way to the stage and had to be helped to reception for a check from a first aider – who was due to give his own talk half an hour later.

I went back and delivered Joanne’s talk and in order to fill out the time I asked if there were any questions.

Bad idea.

A hand shot up.

‘Health and safety regulations apply to all staff, don’t they?’ She didn’t look sarky as she said this.

I nodded.

‘So, all staff should be wearing clothing and footwear appropriate to the work environment, shouldn’t they?’

Slow on the uptake, I nodded again.

‘I’m sure we are all very sympathetic about the young lady’s unfortunate accident, but if she had complied with regulations as you suggest…’

The sarky bird laughed. They all laughed. I blushed. My confidence gone, I looked helplessly at my boss Carl. He came on stage and gestured for me to leave. He joined in the laughter and apologised but pointed out that he couldn’t have had a better example to emphasise the importance of adhering to health and safety regulations if he’d tried.

I felt gutted. He had them in the palm of his hand. He was on my hit list and so was the sarky bird in the audience.

I didn’t even have to try to get rid of Joanne; she was demoted to the post room and I was bumped up to Carl’s deputy. Not much of a promotion considering there was just the two of us, a secretary and two work experience girls, but I was on my way.

Getting rid of Carl was complicated; people liked him and he had worked for the company for ten years. He was getting complacent though, happy to leave much of the work to me and the clerical staff. I soon had them all eating out of my hand; I knew the importance of turning on the charm.

After a few months of surreptitious cancelling and rescheduling of orders, meetings and training, Carl’s star was sinking and he accepted a sideways position into another branch of the company when it was suggested that he had lost his grip on the whole facilities issue. He never found out that I was the one who had sabotaged his work.

They interviewed me for Carl’s job and not surprisingly, I got it. He gave me a brilliant reference. Fool.

My next goal was to build up my very small team into something more impressive. It wasn’t hard; a mastered the art of being extremely accommodating to senior managers and effective at saving money. Why pay out for professionals when you can get it done on the cheap and earn yourself extra brownie points? The building janitors came under my remit now and I used them to carry out maintenance and delivery jobs that had been contracted out previously.

Okay, so they weren’t that good at carpentry and the shelves and worktops they put up were a bit dodgy, but they could paint walls, move office furniture and weren’t averse to a bit of unofficial work after hours if given sufficient sweeteners.

One of the work experience girls had taken quite a shine to me – and I fancied her too. I waited until she had gone back to school and turned sixteen before I made our relationship official of course; knocking off underage schoolgirls in office hours would not have gone down well – however tempted I was. She wasn’t terribly bright and had made a hash up of every office job I gave her but she was tall, blonde, very attractive and could be relied upon to do as she was told. My ideal woman.

The retirement of the canteen manager gave me my next opportunity to increase my empire. I would have responsibility for a cook, three kitchen assistants and a healthy budget to play with.

Saving money in the canteen was child’s play. I found a cheaper food supplier and changed the menus. The cook objected to the poor food quality and handed in her notice. The company marched on its stomach and as a consequence a replacement cook who didn’t care too much about good ingredients was appointed.

Most of the staff  were happy with chips; with fish and mushy peas on Fridays, sausages, burgers or pies during the rest of the week. I made sure that there was cheap salad available as I had already experienced the pointlessness of taking on the stroppy vegetarians.

My child bride and I got married – she was eighteen and pregnant by this time.

There were a few people who weren’t deceived by my charms; if they were on the same management level as me or lower, I did my best to undermine them. I was getting good at this game. Most senior managers realised that I was an asset to be used to their advantage; there were a couple who were cool and distant in their dealings with me. I was very careful not to cross them.

By the time I came across the sarky bird from the induction again, I had a son and a daughter, and a wife who was bored with being at home. She got suspicious when I took to working later than usual. She wasn’t that daft; there was a seventeen-year old cleaner who had added spice to my life. We would meet up for swift but exciting sex in a disused office when the building was deserted.

At about the time my wife was getting to be an unnecessary irritation, a new project team moved into the building. I was told to find temporary accommodation for them and ultimately an office – or two – as the team expanded. I was called in to a meeting with the senior manager in charge of the team and his team members – one of whom was the sarky bird from the induction.

‘Goodness me Adrian!’ she said. ‘Haven’t you risen up the ladder since the last time I saw you!’

I blushed and the other occupants of the room demanded to know what she was talking about.

She told them; she built up the story enough to make me look a total prat. They all laughed, not with me but at me and the sarky bird rose up to the top of my hit list.

After that, it was war. I did my best to make life as awkward for her and her snotty team but each time I did, she managed to put a halt to my plans.

The most embarrassing and potentially damaging thing she did was to grass me up to HR.

I had arranged for my wife to work in my office in the mornings – on a temporary basis – we used her maiden name because you weren’t supposed to have a spouse working for you. This had been a happy arrangement for about a month when I got a call from HR asking me when I had interviewed for a temporary office assistant, how many others had been interviewed and was it just a coincidence that the new employee and I had the same address?

It was a close thing. I could have been demoted or even lost my job but with a bit of careful briefing, my wife and I told a good story about her depression and her need to be out of the house again. I blamed my ‘bending’ of the HR rules on my love and concern for my family.

Success.

My wife was transferred to another office, and though she was still on a temporary contract, she was kept busy there during the mornings and I didn’t have the trouble of finding her meaningless jobs to do. That was someone else’s problem now.

I had no proof that it was the sarky bird that dobbed me in but the fact that she and her team members seemed to find me a constant source of amusement, and refused to treat me with the respect I deserved, that was enough proof for me.

It was war.

Trouble was, it was war on both sides.

My wife found out about my after-hours meetings with the office cleaner. A friend of a friend of the sarky bird in her new team told her and my life was hell at home and a work for a while. I had to sack the cleaner – which upset the other cleaning and janitorial staff. My wife went on strike when I came home from work and it took shedloads of expensive presents to get back in her good books. She really wasn’t as stupid as I thought she was.

Further cuts had to be made in the budget and it was decided that we would close the office building down and move the staff to a more central location.. We received a good offer for the land if the building was demolished and the new office building was only half-occupied so there was plenty of room there.

I got two of the most expensive estimates I could find for moving the furniture and equipment the three miles into town. Then I undercut them drastically by using our own janitors, hiring a couple of white vans, some large plastic crates and getting the staff to pack up their own offices.

Not surprisingly, senior management jumped at the chance of doing things on the cheap. We had a bit of a near miss when it was alleged that we had bats in the roof of the building though. As they were a protected species we couldn’t get the building demolished until the relevant inspectors had been in.

The crates arrived and were stacked up in the corridors. I got one of my staff to draw up a rota as to which office was moving and when. I saved more money by reusing the crates and going into the new offices to ensure that the staff were pulling their weight and unpacking quickly.

The bats turned out to be temporary residents so there was even more reason to get everyone moved and smash the building down.

There were more opportunities for promotion in the new building. I just had to pull this office move off first.

The sarky bird had moved on to another team; just to add salt to the wound, she had been appointed to a job that my wife had been turned down for. This new  team inundated me with demands; room for larger desks because of health and safety issues, storage for confidential files, an accessible meeting room – the list just grew and grew.

A few more cracks appeared in my master plan. I had told the staff to put as much as possible in their pedestal drawers – this meant that I needed fewer crates. The drawers had very small wheels however and the combination of ham-fisted janitors, bumpy car parks and tiny wheels meant that there was a large casualty rate amongst the pedestals – which cost a great deal to replace.

Then there was an accident.

Someone – and no one ever owned up to it – left a crate in an office doorway. A member of staff tripped over it and broke their ankle. I got my secretary to send out an email telling staff not to block doorways and corridors with crates so I couldn’t be held responsible.

We were down to the last week of the move. I was shoving a large desk up the corridor on my own when the sarky bird walked past.

‘Adrian! You should know better than to be moving heavy furniture on your own. Health and safety regulations! You wouldn’t want to have another accident on your conscience now would you?’

I growled.

She sniggered and went back to her office.

The final crates were stacked outside her office. Maybe the crates were piled a bit high but we were in a hurry.

There was another accident.

The sarky bird’s manager told her to get a crate down from the stacks to pack away some specific equipment. As she lifted the crate free from the stack, another one fell on her foot and damaged her toe.

I did my best to cover my back again but senior management laid the blame at my door – and at the door of her manager. They suspended her on a number of allegations regarding the disclosure of information about the workplace but as the accident led to her being off work for more than nine months the Health and Safety Executive had to be involved and all the allegations were dropped – apart from the allegation that she made sarky comments about senior managers – me included.

The upshot of it was that the company had to accept full responsibility for the accident and pay damages to the sarky bird. She also got a reference and pay in lieu of notice. I got demoted, and my wife got a job that she hated so much that she took it out on me at work and at home.

Okay. Other people lost their jobs because of me. Other people got injured. Senior managers stepped aside and laid the blame at my door and instead of being grateful for my having saved them a great deal of money, they also blamed me for the damaged pedestals and low morale amongst the janitorial staff.

I don’t think of myself as a villain.

I blame the sarky bird.

smiley toe

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This is the beginning of anything you want…

 

Flying Eagle

Well, I’m back on the blog again.

New beginnings.

I have new lenses in my eyes – replacements for the old ones cluttered with cataracts – and can see like an eagle (can cause issues in the supermarket especially in the raw meat section).

The podiatrists sorted out the right big toe – it looks much prettier than the left big toe but then it hasn’t had a crate dropped on it. Happier toes have had a positive effect on my achy breaky legs and back so that I can walk further (with my Nordik walking poles), sit at the computer, and study with much less pain. Oh, and colouring. Now that it is an acknowledged adult pursuit I no longer need to colour in secret.

I completed NaNoWriMo again this year – my eighth win – and now it is time I finished editing it all that work and found an agent.

Gap Boy – now known as Biker Boy – has finally had his tonsils removed and is better company as a consequence. His ability to mend and remake BB guns has now extended itself into the realms of motorbikes.  Ah well, they cleared out the garage enough to fit their bikes in. Biker Boy now wants to turn the garage into a man cave…any sorcerers need an apprentice?

Uni Boy is now a Young Master of the Chemical Universe, and remains at York University doing a PhD that has something to do with antibiotics and amino acids. Don’t ask me – it still goes way over my head.

Apart from scoffing a potentially lethal amount of chocolate (wrappers included), biscuits and a Lindt bear when we had the temerity to go out for a meal, Scooby remains our faithful hound and my constant source of solace when Hub is at work. The vet bills were pretty horrendous though.

BB’s bad influence caused Hub to find his way back to motorbikes too. He was a biker when I met him and he does look very good in leathers.

A new year and time to put the unpleasant past behind me for good. I stopped blogging last year for a couple of reasons.

  • I knew that some ex-colleagues were watching the page and waiting for me to say something negative so that they could run and tell tales. Sorry to disappoint them but I really can’t be bothered any more
  • I also discovered some that people who I thought were friends had used and abused that friendship for their own ends. Blocked, un-friended for ever and banished
  • There was so much negativity after this that I didn’t particularly want to share it – especially with those people who were mad enough to say that they actually enjoyed my ramblings

I don’t know how often I’ll blog but I’ve forked out for another year so I may as well inflict my money’s worth on anyone who wants to read this. It’s good practice as far as touch typing is concerned – the last three years of enforced lassitude have eroded my administrational skills.

It’s been a quiet Christmas for us – from choice – but we still managed to spend time with many of our nearest and dearest. BB actually ate duck for his Christmas dinner – instead of his usual smelly bacon noodles liberally laced with Tabasco sauce. I cooked roast parsnips (yuck) for Hub and the YM, and had a success with recreating Mutti’s red cabbage – who knew juniper berries would be so hard to source – should have gone to Waitrose I suppose but Sandbach, Northwich or Southport are a bit too far to go just for a berry or six. The Scoob was not offered another enormous knuckle bone this year – the after effects were too horrendous to discuss. I found him some less smelly Christmas chews that kept him reasonably occupied while we were eating.

We had some wonderful Christmas presents – from those who know and love us well. A huge thank you to all those people who make my life happy; my family, my old and new friends. Some of you will have got Christmas cards. Some will have seen Scooby’s card on FaceAche. We were finishing writing them and going out to make deliveries when Scooby stuffed himself, and it threw us out of kilter.

The YM was returned to a very wet York on Boxing Day – the Tang Hall brook was bubbling up through the manhole covers but YM lives on higher ground fortunately and is very nimble on his feet. He smiled and shook his head when I offered to buy him wellies or flip-flops.

Our New Year’s Eve was blissfully quiet too; just me, Hub and the Scoob – once we had finished ferrying the boys to their respective parties. We went to bed around two am.  BB rumbled home and stomped up the stairs at around four am, and YM around six am – my Scooby intruder alarm was triggered but only a few mild wuffs were uttered. YM had warned me that he might not go to bed if he was still wide awake (inebriated) from his celebrations but would pack up quietly and get the train back to York.

There was a message on my mobile when I emerged at ten am – at eight am YM was in Manch and on his way Yorkwards. At least while he was here I fed him and lent him my phone charger and iron (my ironing does not meet his standards any more – oh dear).

Hub has gone back to work today after a happy eight days off together. We saw Star Wars VII – in 3D – on our own. I want to go and see it again, and I want another Star Wars cup.

A word of warning before I sign off. There are some unscrupulous people who make a tidy little sum from selling email addresses to companies who then inundate your inbox with badly spelled beggings for their crap products – at the least – or try to trick you into responding so they can access your account. The person I gave my address to said she wanted it so that she could keep in touch, but she never used it – she then passed it onto one of her simple satellites so I got spammed twice.

My junk mail box is usually quite full these. I don’t need to open or read them before sending them into the black hole where they belong. The spelling and grammar in the subject matter and first line alone is enough to make me giggle.

I’m studying proofreading and copy-editing now that my eyes are mended. Another string to my bow and a fascinating skill to acquire.

BB has just emerged from his upper man cave and  disappeared laden with red pepperoni sticks and shortbread – an interesting mix.

Hub phoned to make sure I was missing him – I was and he knew I would be but in a good way – but he will be back by nine-thirty pm.

Finally, a sad farewell to Terry Pratchett and Lemmy Kilmister – your legacies live on in your words and music long after the rubbish novels and tone-deaf singers have faded into obscurity.

Let’s get on now and make 2016 a good place to be. XXX

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it” Ferris Bueller

Well, it’s taken a while but I’m back and many thanks to Scooby and the V-Toe for holding the fort.  I am freed from  the thraldom of ‘they-who-must-not-be-named’ or TWMNBN, which is still something of a mouthful so I’ll stick with THEM if I really feel the need to mention THEM – which I don’t.

So ner to anyone nosey-poking on my page and expecting to be able to run and tell tales again. Slimeballs.

In my new guise as a freelancer (not quite sure what I’m freelancing at yet but we’ll wait and see)  life has become infinitely more interesting in the past six months but first an update.

The Hub as ever, remains wonderful, supportive, entertaining and has the best-shaped head of any man I know – except for when it gets hit by errant paintballs.

Uni Boy is in his third year and in line for a first; he is going for his Masters next year and is happily ensconced in a little end of terrace house sharing with three lovely women.  The house is immaculately kept (they take their shoes off, and leave each other messages about recycling on the kitchen whiteboard) and as a consequence UB shows something of a reluctance to come and visit home-crap-home. Whilst UB may have a brain the size of a planet, it didn’t stop him washing his passport  a couple of days before he was due to go off to Spain with his friends.  Various plans were mooted but he missed the holiday and had to be content with spending a week in a hotel (paid for by his parents) whilst he was doing hush-hush work for a large chemical company he interned with during the summer.  It was so hush-hush that he couldn’t even tell his mum about it – not that I would have understood – 90% of what UB says goes right over my head but I like to listen anyway.

College Boy isn’t.  He was finding the teaching methods somewhat dull – as in ‘sit there and revise quietly whilst I mug up on the teaching I need to do for the other classes I take that I know nothing about either.’ When the college turned into an academy that concentrated on making money and getting stunning results rather than actually teaching young people, CB was considered to be too risky for them and so he is at home now having a gap year.  Henceforth he will be known therefore as Gap Boy or GB to his friends.  His year hasn’t been too empty however; he organised a trip to Colorado in the summer to attend the wedding of friends he made through one of his shouty internet games.  Using some of his inheritance to travel business class, he dressed up smart and after being compared to Prince Harry (GB has MUCH better hair) was the centre of female attention at the wedding. He also trounced the Yanks at clay-pigeon shooting – left-handed.   The week after his trip, the heavens opened and the wedding venue up in the mountains got washed away.  GB is currently looking for voluntary work so that he can broaden his horizons and stop getting under my feet.

The Scoob has been with us for a year now; he is incredibly loving, cuddly and intelligent – in the house.  Once outside he transforms into protector mode and barks at cars, cyclists, joggers, binmen, postmen (and women), delivery people, some other dogs (random) and some passersby (equally random).  He is very strong and after pulling me over (see previous posts) I am now limited to taking him for garden wees, holding the treat bag when we go out and calling him in a high-pitched (but attractive to dogs) voice.  I still take him for an early morning treasure hunt for treats in the inner courtyard, and as a consequence I am greeted with a loud and very enthusiastic howl of happiness when I come down in the morning.  Lovely for me but not for the rest of the sleeping household, especially guests.

2013 has been a year of extremes; extreme unhappiness and frustration with THEM but extreme joy in renewing friendships from college (34 years ago) and in particular the re-acquaintance with Bezzie Mate (BM) who has lured me out of my self-imposed exile.  I now do trains and buses again; wending my way to BM’s hometown so he can show me his haunts.  In return he has come to visit us and been adopted by the whole family including Scooby, whose adoration makes him wheeze.

There is much to look forward to in the new year; my Lovely Girl is in pod again and moving to a new forever house, we are finally getting a decent kitchen put in and this is the year where I make a concerted effort to write more fruitfully.

Freedom and freelancing have given me the opportunity to spend more time with Hub and my huge and brilliant family, see friends that I have missed and to have my own adventures.  The V-Toe is still sore and causes me to fall over rather a lot but with supportive arms and a walking stick, I get around (round, round, I get around).

Life does move pretty fast but I have every intention of stopping on the way to enjoy it.

“Take off your shoes and pat your feet, we’re doin’ a dance that can’t be beat, we’re barefootin'”

Way-hay!  The other half has gone on a flight to Madrid (and back again) today leaving me, the PAM and the sleeping teen in the warm – after yesterday we deserve to rest but the PAM has been horribly active this morning in an effort to avoid writing her sociology essay – only 7 days to go PAM!

So far we are on our second lot of washing, the old flowers have been thrown out and fresh freesias (go Tesco) have replaced them.  We also have a bucket of blue hyacinths ready to bloom for the old Crimbo celebrations.  A box of bits has been gone through and stuff that has been dumped in the big teen’s bedroom whilst he is away has been moved to a pile in another room  – it’s true – this place IS known as Haemorrhoid House (because of all the piles – doh!)

There is washing up still to do – oh and lunch – my idea of day spent curled up on my cushion under her ironing board cum desk whilst she battled with the differences between social harm and criminalisation has effectively disappeared.  Her to-do list keeps getting longer and longer.

Still – a quieter day than yesterday.

My lips are sealed about the morning (yeah – I know – toes don’t have lips – but this is all fiction anyway so who cares?)

Lovely to see our Breath of Fresh Air though and catch up over hot chocolate afterwards. It took me some while to recover from the changes in temperature – no matter how much the PAM wraps me up there is always a cold draft that cuts through and stings like billy-oh.

Home for lunch and a trip to the good old garden centre where a time-limited shopping was remarkably successful – unless you are a cold, stinging toe that wants to be home in the warm.  Christmas  – Bah Humbug!

But the worst was yet to come…..

……The POD!

This was the fourth pod we’ve seen in 6 weeks (I don’t count the student pod – who was very sweet but was remarkably cack-handed when she tried to dress me). This appointment was to check my other nine toe-mates and the feet they are attached to.

So – the good news is – the PAM still has beautiful pulses in her feet (of course) and no sign of any sensory damage anywhere else – just moi. We passed the tuning fork test and ‘shut-your-eyes-whilst-I-poke-your-feet-with-a-ball-point-pen’ test.  Hoorah!

Then it was my turn to have the starring role – gulp – he got out a scalpel!

He poked and it hurt.  He prodded and it hurt; he stuck his scalpel into places where no one has ventured before without the PAM having to be scraped off the ceiling – the other half let her squeeze his hand – hard.

Contrary to the last pod’s opinion – this one reckons my toe will have a nail – eventually – and that there are signs of regrowth – but it could take up to 12 months and (I love this bit) it may come out warped (tee-hee just like me!).

So – overall – the feet are okay but I have to go back again between Christmas and Lanzarote time for another appointment.  We have purchased tons of dressings, bandages and sticky stuff because the pod says I have to be kept covered at all times – EVEN in the swimming pool – but at least I can go paddling.

None of the pods we’ve seen seem to agree with each other but perhaps that is because my prognosis is so uncertain – it looks as if I shall be hanging around with my nine mates for some while to come yet – but no barefootin’.

Come on PAM!  – eat some lunch – wash up and get on with that flipping essay!

Nobody knows – tiddly pom – how cold my toes – tiddly pom – how cold my toes – tiddly pom – are growing

Yay! Today has been another inside in the warm day.

A very long lie in after the other half had gone out to scrape off the snow and toddle off to work.

Lush smelling shower  – hoorah – salt water bath – boo.

The post brought important letters but the contents cannot be divulged – it’s no use trying to torture me – someone’s already killed my toenail and made it fall off – so you can forget the bamboo shoots as well – I will not give out the information.

The PAM laughed a lot though and looked a lot happier than she has for the past couple of days  By the rate at which she was texting – she was imparting vital secrets. Oh how those thumbs flew!

I enjoyed a very brief exposure to the elements after the shower and then it was the lighty whitey indoor dressing so that I was protected whilst trying on my festive willie warmers – which arrived in the post with the important letters.

The festive red WW  engulfed not just me – but my four little friends and half the foot.  It has a shiny red ribbon to stop it from falling off and we’ve sent a picture to FB so that my hoards of fans can admire the look.  I fully expect Heat magazine to be doing a feature on toe-couture within the next week or so.  The two black WWs were customised this evening and provide that chic and sophisticated look that I SO desire.

No dozing off today or going back to bed for the afternoon nap – the PAM has been busy tappity tapping, downloading documents  and making  extremely important phone calls.

A question for my fan base – if you write about people – like ‘In The Thick of It’ and you change their names but EVERYONE knows who the character is based on – that’s satire innit?  And you can’t get into trouble for satire can you, because it is just made up stuff?

I’m the only V-toe there is – so people had better not try to write anything about me that I don’t like – are you listening PAM?

There was a brief respite this afternoon when the PAM did the maternal bit and cooked food for the thundering teen – who was hyper-critical as usual. Why DOES she bother?  All that standing on one leg (the other leg) whilst she’s cooking makes her look like an overweight flamingo – in plain clothes – she won’t wear bright pink.

The more civilised sprog phoned this evening  – on his way to a party to get riotously drunk; with the news that he was a runner-up for the University Challenge team – he’ll be on it next year – you bet.

The PAM’s Blackberry has continued to be busy with texts and FB alerts all evening – but she can sort those out without disrupting me from my comfy cushion thank goodness.

If it wasn’t for this annoying pins and needles stuff, the achy joint and the stinging – life would be quite pleasant here in the land of the V-toe.

Oh well – off to bed – we are all up early in the morning (apart from the slumbering teen) to visit the pod and get the update on just how much damage that lethal lump of moulded plastic did when it fell on me.

Toe-dle Pip!