I started the week making more typos than normal, allowing a delighted HOWARD to scrawl “FUCK U” across my letters and hand them back. “This shit is going in your personnel file,” he said.
The firm doesn’t keep personnel files. They’d only recently started appraisals. HOWARD’S own appraisal was that morning. I wondered if PHILIP would mention the way HOWARD talked to me. When I asked him about what they’d discuss, it must have been on his mind too because HOWARD did an impression of what he thought PHILIP might say.
‘HOWARD, my son. Do what you want to Eva; say what you like to the girl. I don’t give a shit as long as you keep billing - as long as you keep the money coming in. Just don’t make her actually commit suicide for God’s sake…the firm can’t carry the legal action.”
Never a truer word spoken in jest.
I have to confess I’ve been a little distracted, hence the mistakes. If I’d had a personnel file for HOWARD to look at he might have guessed why. This week I turned 36. I’m not usually bothered by birthdays, but the fact I’m divorced, living in a bed-sit and working for HOWARD isn’t a fulfilment of a childhood dream.
I wasn’t ready for him to know and I don’t have a clue how HOWARD came to find out. I braced myself for one suicide joke after another.
Maybe it was his appraisal and he was worried they’d say something. Maybe he just sensed I was feeing pretty low as it was, and there was only so much I could take. On my birthday, when he gave me a card and a gift it was understated, without him taking the advantage to humiliate me.
“I bought you the most utilitarian card I could find,” he said. I thanked him, not really understanding his point.
I took the present out of its gift bag. He said his wife had chosen them so if I didn’t like them I could blame her. It was a lovely pair of silver earrings. I thanked him.
HOWARD told the PM to staple the gift receipt to my personnel file. When she asked why, he said when they find my body tied to the railway line, minus a head, he could prove he wasn’t all bad before they sent him down.
As I said, the firm doesn’t bother with personnel files. Probably they can’t be bothered with the admin. After all, do you blame them?
Mine and HOWARD’S files would read like War and Peace.
See you next week,