The Promotion

WallThe alarm rang and I reached out for the snooze button. I knocked my phone onto the floor and scrabbled around for it. Next to me Caroline groaned and asked me to turn it off. I eventually managed and pressed myself against her, enjoying my final moments of warmth. I counted to 100 and slid out of bed and into the shower.

Shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, contact lenses, shaving foam, aftershave, deodorant and I’m good to go. I grabbed a cereal bar, downed a glass of apple juice and whispered goodbye to the snug, inanimate body on the bed.

The tube was a nightmare. I fought my way onto a train, eyed up the carriage for any signs of a possible seat (no chance) and balanced a free newspaper on someone’s back. Front page story: three women who had been living as slaves in a Brixton flat for 30 years had made a break for freedom.

I arrived at London Bridge and had a brief but cold walk to the office. On the way I stopped at Cafe Nero and chatted to the barista about the weather as she prepared my flat white. We both agreed that it was very cold.

I walked through the office door and headed straight for the kitchen to grab a piece of fruit before it all disappeared. A lone plum rested in the corner of the fruit bowl. I seized it and laughed about the lack of apples with a few of my colleagues. “Who even likes plumbs?” I joked.

It was a Wednesday so I headed straight into my team’s midweek meeting. Numbers were looking good and everyone was in a great mood. Bonuses were due to be announced in the next few days and we were all optimistic. After the meeting I discussed the lack of apples with another colleague. “Who even likes plumbs?” I complained.

At lunch I got a call from Carol. She wanted to know if I had any preferences regarding the Christmas tree lights. I laughed and said I didn’t. I told her to get whatever the kids wanted. “But coloured lights are so tacky,” she said.

As I was eating my sandwich, my manager pulled up a seat next to me and told me we needed to talk. “Nothing bad,” he said, “We just need to figure out a way to get Simon out and you in.” He was referring to my line manager who was paid more than me, but incapable of functioning without me by his side.

I had voiced the idea of getting rid of him a few months ago and apparently management had decided it was the right move. I was in line for a promotion and no doubt a significant pay rise. The news made me happy, although I did feel for Simon. He wasn’t a bad person, just an incompetent waste of space.

After lunch I returned to my desk just in time to overhear Simon complaining about me. “… And he always takes an hour for lunch no matter how much work there is and…”. He stopped when he saw me and grinned. “Hello mate, what did you go for today?” “Noodles,” I replied drily.

Over the next five hours, I got through a number of reports and spreadsheets. Simon searched the internet to find out how to work out percentages, read a sports website and finally Googled his own name.

As soon as the clock struck 5.45 he made a big show of stretching, locking up his laptop and putting his coat on. “See you tomorrow mate!” He called as he strode towards the door. I smiled at him.

When it was time for me to leave I shut down my laptop and decided against taking it home. I was on the phone to Carol as I entered the station. “So I bought coloured lights in the end, but they’re quite small, you’ll like them.” “I’m sure I will,” I said, “I’m underground now connection’s going to cut…” I hung up.

I arrived at the platform and was relieved to see headlights approaching from the darkness of the tunnel. “Good,” I thought. I was in no mood to wait. The train approached, I felt and moment of pure adrenaline and panic and I launched myself underneath the carriage.

Michele Martinelli is a London based writer, you can follow him on @Greatbites.

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