Okay, so I know that this week is Mr Happy-go-fucking-lucky McPositive Week here in the Uberflat, but something has recently been building in stress terms for some time, and it finally Krakatoa’d last night. I think that it’s because I’ve been making myself be in a good mood that this event happened and I’m actually very cheerful!
Recently, I was working in a rather grim office, a modelling agency in Farringdon in central London. I recently quit and am now unemployed. Here’s why:
When I learned that I was going to be working all day with models in chixy (a mixture of chic and sexy) Farringdon, I was agreeable to the prospect of employment, and my happiness was compounded when I arrived at work to be greeted by a flock of statuesque eye-poppers all waiting nonchalantly in the stylish and airy reception area, made-up and dressed provocatively.
‘Yes,’ I thought ‘this is a good job’.
Then a side door opened and a little bald hobbit scruffled up to me, putting out his hand, and introduced himself as Neel, my new boss. He led my through the side-door and down some steps, to the basement (or the dungeons) where the admin team worked. With each step my heart sank, as I knew that the absolutely impractical nature of the models’ heels, erection-inspiring though they may be were unlikely to ever try and pick their way downstairs for a pow-wow with us shitheels.
The ‘office’ was a 15x20’ sweatbox with no windows and sweat’n’breath covered red paint over the walls. I was shown to my (tbh lovely) chair and desk and given six sheets of paper, all of which were lists of names, phone-numbers, emails address and post-codes.
“Bit creepy, but let’s just roll with it.” I thought.
My job was not exactly as secretarial or administrative as I’d thought. I had to call every number on the list and read from a script
“Hi, is that _______? Hi, _____, my name is Conor and I’m calling you from XXXXXX Studios here in Farringdon in Central London. How are you today?
Good to hear (chuckle)
Well, the reason that I’m calling is that we recently ran a huge promotion online in conjunction with ______, _________ and __________ .com and you clicked on one of our online banners indicating that you might be interested in coming in for a complimentary VIP make-over and fashion photoshoot, do you remember?
You do? Oh good, well, I’m very pleased to announce...”
You get the idea. I had to seduce the person on the other line before telling them the terms and conditions, and had to try and convince them to give me their credit card details.
About 15 minutes into the first day, I had a moment of clarity and thought “Hey, wait a minute, this isn’t a secretary job....this is fucking TELESALES!”
Now, if truth be told, I wasn’t very good at it. I could never really muster the enthusiasm to try and make my pitch when I was calling people at midday with ‘Loose Women’ on in the background and a screaming child beside them. Most of the people I called couldn’t afford the (refundable) deposit, and some were downright hostile, which I can understand. I was encouraged to ‘make friends’ with the customer. The only problem being that I don’t usually try to fuck my friends right in the financial arsehole within seconds of making their acquaintance...it’s just not kosher is it?
I did have some lovely phonecalls, chatting to genuinely fascinating people. Some people I flirted with, some people I was frankly intimidated by (always women incidentally, male callers are usually cool) and others were just lonely and eager for a chat.
What made the job unbearable was the athmosphere on my side of the line. As I’ve said, the room was (lovely chair and iMac aside) less-than-perfect. The Bald Hobbit was used to warm weather, as was the rest of the staff. Being Irish, anything above 0.5 degrees C is considered frankly tropical, and so I spent most of my working day sweating like a priest in a primary school. Moreover, in an attempt for the customer to hear how cool and happening we were, there was always some blaring Ministry of Sound Ibiza dance track playing in the background (which although kinda cool, eventually became irksome). The combination of thumping beats, high caffiene, booking targets (which had to be reached) and the heat made the room into some hysterical down-ward plummeting carnival.
More than anything though...the boss. Neel the fucking Bald Hobbit. This guy is about 20 cms high and still thinks he’s hard as nails. He would smile and be really happy, then start shouting abuse at you. He once came over to me, and standing about an inch from my face started to yell. I just sat there politely bemused by this tanked-up little shit screaming about targets, trying desperately not to laugh.
Anyway, Neel spends/spent most of his time fighting with his girlfriend A---- who sat beside me. Oh btw, he’s 38 and she’s 22. Ew. He would take us all out after work (there were a staff of 4, all girls apart from me, none older than 23) and try to fit in with the youth. He told me on the first night he thought I was his ‘brother’ and that he loved me. He spent half the time yelling at A---- and the rest telling me and my friend Bouf (her name is Shona, but is a ‘BOUF’ apparently and a really great friend from Klburn) anecdotes about how well connected he was before attempting (and failing) to get us into every nightclub.
Now, whilst drunk one night he borrowed some money off me, and that’s were the trouble started. Apparently Neel has had a LOT of ‘bad luck’ the past while and needed a sub til payday. Me being drunk gave him some. This being a time when I was INCREDIBLY drunk.
This occurred a few times until it came to be that he owed me a good ole whack of cash. He chatted to me one day and told me, over a beer, that he had been in jail and that he was making a new life with his girlf and that he would get the bosses of the studio to pay me directly on payday. I told him he was okay to wait a few days to get his head together, and (rather hypocritically) suggested he cut-down on the booze.
I left my job soon after that. Neel’s oppressive “You’re my best pal and I love/Make some fucking bookings” swings got the better of me and I walked out mid conversation. I told him some lie about the Firm only wanting me to have a legal-based job, but that was a crock of it.
Anyway, he’s been promising to give me my money back, and always having a problem. The cheque didn’t clear. His pay hadn’t come through. He needed more time. Then, he promised me that he’d meet me on Friday. That turned into Sunday, which turned into yesterday evening (Monday 9th November 2009) Then I got a text yesterday. His new boss handed him a cheque to cahs, he had no money on him til tomorrow. Could he see me then.
Now, ever since my Waterloo Fail, I’ve been a bit strapped for cash. As my new ATM card has yet to reach my folks’ place in Derry, it’ll be a few days til I have access to cash, and I can’t exactly sponge off Spark (my flatmate) for the rest of my life.
I fucking exploded. I text him telling him what a pathetic SOB he was, how I was gonna call the Firm if he didn’t pay me back in 24 hours. He phoned, calling me ‘Buddy’. I spent about 15 minutes flat out shouting at him down the phone, and by the end he sounded on the verge of tears. In retrospect, I should be guilty for losing my temper, but to be honest it was great. I love exploding every so often and I think that it was perfectly warranted in this situation. Not everyday do I have the opportunity to make a 38 year old man cry, less often the opportunity to feel justified.
So now, Tuesday 10th of November Anno Domini 2009, I’m walking to my local tube station to pick up an envelope. I got a call from Neel today, all smiles and ‘Buddy’ talk, but maybe it’s time for a Neelectomy. In one hour I’m walking to meet him, then I’m going to my local to use the wifi and drink (soda water) and blog. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Okay so it turns out he was reliable this time. Brought the money and the apology and knew that I was still furious with him. Somehow he knew that I knew that he had been drinking every night that he owed me the money and somehow he didn't really feel like having too much of an argument about how his 'hands had been tied'. I got the money and strode off into the night, coat flapping and trying hard not to a) swagger or b) feel guilty.
Either way, I'm glad that it's over and that I'll now be able to move on, a wee touch wiser.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED: Never lend money to someone. Ever. Unless you trust them, and especially not when you're drunk.
Oh, despite this post I’ve been very positive today and had some good leads for jobs. Hope you’ve all had a good one !