So then...

About Me

Welcome to my blog. My pen name is Eva James. I'm an aspiring writer paying the bills working as a legal secretary. Bullied by my boss in 2008, I looked for another job but the recession hit. Feeling trapped, I started this blog. 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." I was unaware back then that it would catalogue one of the most extreme cases of workplace bullying in the UK. I've found another job, but am subject to a gagging order. I'm still blogging, of course. Just don't tell the lawyers!

Friday, 12 March 2010

The Quiet Life

This morning, Howard's phone rang as I was putting away his files. He was downstairs. I reached over the mess and answered it. It was a medical consultant wanting to know if Howard had received his e-mail. I figured Howard must have been waiting for it because his Office Outlook e-mails were open. I couldn’t see anything from the consultant. Howard's last e-mail was from the Office Manager - referring to my recent complaints about his behaviour.

Tripping over my words, I told the consultant I’d call him when his e-mail arrived. I lowered the handset.

“Take no notice of her,” the Office Manager had written. “She’s overtired and oversensitive. After all, she walks back and forth to work and she goes to the gym. Why can’t she just chill out and have a bottle of wine and a packet of crisps!!”

I sank onto his chair, telling myself it wasn’t really a surprise. The Office Manager is a personification of bystander apathy when it comes to bullying. I was crestfallen to see she’d e-mailed him my mobile phone number too.

After lunch, the PM confessed to being upset. She’d been downstairs in the accounts room when she’d overheard a number of colleagues talking about her. Having heard her name mentioned she’d crept to the door without being seen. Some colleagues had said she did nothing to help when people needed it; she’d sell staff out for a quiet life. They proclaimed her useless.

“What’s wrong with wanting a quiet life?” she said. Tearful, she phoned her husband for sympathy.

When Howard returned he ran through some of his hilarious scenarios where I might die. The Office Manager sniffed and smiled. It wasn’t long before she was laughing again. Howard said he only had one request regarding the arrangements for my funeral.

“I ask one thing, Eva,” he said. “I want them to have a last gender check during your autopsy – to clear up my nagging doubts. Look at Caster - that runner. You should get yourself tested and perhaps they could pop your male bits out.”

“I do wish you wouldn’t think about me like that,” I replied.

HOWARD was already absorbed in his work.

“How should I think of you?” he said. “Oh, I know. My favourite is on the First World War battlefield in no man’s land - in the middle of decomposing.”

Without looking up, he raised two fingers.

Resigned, the Office Manager and I looked at each other, rolling our eyes.

“Or there’s the other way I think of you,” he continued, “which is like a walking advert for contraception. One look at you and the Catholic Church would adopt a more lenient stance. Feel free to book time off to visit Rome.”

If the PM gave as much consideration to every overheard conversation as she did to the ones involving her, I might enjoy a quiet life myself.

See you soon,

Eva x

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