How’s everyone today? Hope you’re all having a good day. Here the seasons are turning, any residual warmth is quickly leached as the nights start to draw in. So what better way to cheer yourself up than snuggling up under a nice warm blanket and finding something good to read. I aim to please, enjoy!
To be fair to him, Simon was pretty cool about the whole thing. He didn’t mentioned it, and even waiting for me, pretending to examine various notices he must’ve seen a thousand times before, as I struggled every now and then with the shoe. He was giving me a guided tour on the way to meet Tom and Bob. I got the impression he was playing for time, dragging out the sight-seeing as he waiting for something to be finished.
We came back out of the stockroom and walked slowly along the corridor. He pointed out the Human Resources board yet again,
‘Bob’s very ‘up’ on his people. He always makes sure the Employee of the Month is recognised and a photo posted by the Monday of the following week. He’s put me in charge of it,’ a little laugh, then, ‘not of choosing the recipient of course – that would be inappropriate. The salaried managers choose the candidates and then pick a winner. I merely put up the winner’s details and buy then a gift.’
Ahhh, the glory of being a salaried manager. See, that was the other difference now; no longer scrubbing around on a quid above minimum, now I was on a salary. Yeah, I’d have to work a few more hours, stop later too probably, but the extra money would be worth it. I chuckled slightly to myself; it was funny how in this business we gave pithy, one word names to groups of people depending on their job. Salaried, hourly, grill-monkeys, white-shirts. Turds. Makes me glad I’ve moved up.
Simon turned to face me, ‘I suppose Neil does something pretty similar,’ he said, slightly tailing off as he peered over my shoulder, through the tiny glass panel set into the door and into the back office.
‘Yeah, pretty similar.’ Though he did nothing of the sort really. Neil was the manager of the Doncaster restaurant, the one I’d just moved from. A thing like keeping notice boards up to date was something he only generally did when he knew Tom was coming. He liked to joke that Tom, just like the Queen, must think that the world smelt of fresh paint. To be fair to Tom, he wasn’t really that bad, pretty much a good sort. He was a realist, knew what could be achieved, with what was available. Probably more likely that Neil was just being a miserable so-and-so.
I turned to see what Simon was looking at just in time to see the door open. Nick, his hand on the door handle, was just turning his head back from the two figures sat behind a desk at the back of the office. He looked directly at me and grinned,
‘Alright mate. You’re my replacement are you? Well good luck,’ he reached out with his other hand and shook mine, ‘Watch out for these those,’ he nodded back into the room, ‘Right set of twats.’ And then he was gone.
Simon brushed, rather closely, passed me and into the room, righting the single chair on this side of the desk as he passed,
‘Mr Wilkie sir, Bob; Eden’s here. Shall I, err….?’
‘Ah yes! Damms, come on in son.’ Tom stood and came round to my side of the desk. He shook my hand hard (don’t think I done so much hand shaking since that time I got pee on it) and slapped me on the back harder. Being quite unexpected it knocked the wind out of me just as I was just forming the word ‘Hello’. It had the unfortunate consequence of making it sound like I was trying to cough up a fur-ball. Bob chose this moment to look up from some papers on the desk. A little frown and then he returned his attention, without looking up again he spoke to Simon,
‘Make sure Nick leaves the building please. Oh, and bring in three coffees on your way back.
Simon and I exchanged looks. I silently mimed a finger pointing at my chest and mouthed, ‘Me?’
Simon mouthed back, ‘No, me. I think.’
‘Eden! Bloody well sit down will you, we’ve got a lot to get through. And Simon, go on. Nick, remember.
‘Yes Bob, sorry. I’m on it now.’
I quickly sat down; the door slammed shut behind me and sent a draft of cold air right down my neck. My shiver and involuntary groan coming just at the time when Bob chose to look up once more. He glanced at Tom, a look seeming to say, ‘Yeah, sorry boss, we may just have made a bit of a mistake here.’
‘So Damms, how ya doing. Ready for management?’
‘Yes sir. Willing, able AND ready.’
‘Good stuff son, bit of confidence – I like it. I know you’ll do just fine. Neil prepped you well has he?’
‘I think so sir, yes. He’s gone through quite a few of the training manuals with me, done a plan for my development, looked at…’
‘Training manuals, pfft. Listen son, it’s not what you know that’s important; it’s putting it into practice that’s the real test. You might know all there is to know about burgers, but can you cook one, cook it good too? And even more importantly, do you choose to do so? Every time? You got ketchup in your veins?’ He fixed me with a stare. I could only maintain eye contact for a few seconds before looking away and muttering a less-confident,
‘I think so, yes.’
‘Ha ha. Course you have. You wouldn’t have got this far if you hadn’t. Look, it’s heart that counts. And desire. A desire to do what’s right, even if it hurts you or seems like hard-work. I can give you all the knowledge you need; hell my wife can quote you anything from the Processes and Specifications Guide but she can’t make a burger to save her life. Just do what’s right son and you’ll do good. Real good.’
Simon returned with the coffees, Bob nodded to him to place them on the desk, ‘Thanks. But with all that in mind Eden, there’s still a lot for you to do. We may only be a small outpost of a larger company, but we still need to abide by their rules. Neil has (he emphasised the word to clarify that no matter what Mr Wilkie had said, his way was the expected path) given me a copy of your development plan, I expect you to get on with that straight away.’ He paused while he reached for one of the coffees,
‘We’ll get you all the modules you need to complete as you go along; Simon’s squirreled them away somewhere.’ He again paused as he tucked a sip of the coffee through the hole in the lid. I took my cue and reached for a coffee myself.
‘I’ll get an exam shipped over from the States too, I want you taking and passing the paper by the back end of November.’
‘Will there be any mock exam papers, I’m pretty hopeless at exams, so any chance to get in the zone for the final one would be much appreciated.’ I went to take a drink of my own coffee. Bringing it to my lips I failed to notice that the lid wasn’t tightly on. Before I had chance to even taste it, the lid came off, and out poured the coffee, all down my chest and into my lap. I leapt up and frantically brushed it off. I grabbed at the fabric of my crotch, desperately trying to pull some of the heat away. Mr Wilkie stared at me open-mouthed, while Bob took another sip of his coffee, ‘I’ll see you Wednesday, seven o’clock.’
Today was not a good day to the start of my new career.