This week the unthinkable happened. HOWARD gave me a lift home. The nearest I’d been to his car was last Christmas Eve. As I walked through the car park he tried to run me over. He was joking…I’m pretty sure he was joking - kind of.
Anyway, HOWARD needed me to work late. I told him I couldn’t - I had a doctor’s appointment and I had to go home first. He offered the lift as a bargaining tool, which I’d been too busy to think through.
I used to have my own car. She’d been as well maintained and loved as an 11 year old car could get. On the MOT last year the garage phoned me in work to confirm the worst. The head gasket was done for. It wasn’t cost effective to repair. I’ll be a pedestrian until I’ve paid off the loan. I listened, sniffed and reached for a tissue. HOWARD sauntered past. It was obvious I was talking to the garage. If there’s a bright side, I thought, at least this meant an end to his ‘lorry driving into my car’ motorway death visualisations.
HOWARD pointed at me and said, “This, like all these things, has happened because you’re a bad person.”
So, as I waited for him in reception, I mused on the idiocy of being in a car with a man who wants to put me in a black bag and dump it on the side of the motorway. I tried to act nonchalant as the receptionist made a joke about HOWARD being a male version of ‘Miranda’ out of that film The Devil Wears Prada. I didn’t bother pointing out that I’m hardly the central character of ‘Andy.’ She put up with the boss from hell because it was the quickest way to launch her writing career into the stratosphere. I’m covering the rent on my bed-sit. Slightly less Hollywood.
A car can tell you a lot about a person, or at least how they look after it. You would have been appalled at the interior of HOWARD’S car. It’s never been cleaned. Old newspapers, magazines and flyers littered the seats. There was a smear of melted chocolate on the passenger seat and, equally, the sweet/stale smell of melted Dairy Milk in the air. Amongst the crap on the floor lay an old, dried tea bag and a scattering of what could have been toe nail clippings. There was a shrivelled walnut in the inside groove of the door handle. There were photos, gym clothes, office ties…It was both thought provoking and chaotic. Tracy Emin could have driven HOWARD’S car through the doors of the Tate and won the Turner prize before switching off the engine.
“I’ve named her after you,” HOWARD said, patting the steering wheel. “She doesn’t work properly and looks like shit.”
Maybe it was being outside the grey neon florescent of the office, but in the evening sun I saw him in a different light. His shave was uneven; his shirt un-ironed. He looked tired. He didn’t wear a watch. Nor did he wear aftershave, unless that was the melted Dairy Milk smell. For the remainder of the journey he talked to me about normal things, like his job and his colleagues. I listened.
“What a surprise,” he said, pulling up at the block of flats I live in. “You live in fucking sheltered accommodation.”
I realised that, while he laughs at where I live and my lack of transport, he doesn’t exude the trappings of success either. These are recessionary times. His wife may be wearing the Prada trousers but, to afford them, the devil wears ASDA and drives a second hand SKODA.
And, as I chose not to tell him, his tax disc is two months out of date.
See you next week,
- Bullied By The Boss
- Welcome to my blog. My pen name is Eva James. I'm an aspiring writer paying the bills working as a legal secretary. Relentlessly bullied by my former boss, I looked for another job but the recession hit. Feeling trapped, I recorded everything in this blog, which serves as a revealing insight into workplace bullying. WEEK 1 starts the story and, as the weeks progress, you'll note what starts as banter soon spirals out of control. Sadly, it's all true. Whilst along the way I've found alternative employment, my passion for blogging about workplace bullying remains. Trevor Griffiths, legendary theatre, TV and film writer said at the outset, "I like the writing a lot: smart, cool, placed. If you were prepared/able to take your prick of a boss on, you'd marmelise him."