Colin’s 16.00 Training And Competence Requirements Meeting Of Doom

Col at work spins in his seat, adopting the classic ducking head stance of the habituated supervisor avoider. I lean my chin into the heel of my hand and turn so I’m facing him across and along the aisle that separates the two sets of seat backs.

-I can’t believe there’s no football tonight.

He’s totally incredulous.

– It’s on tomorrow night… but I’m working. Wednesday night yes, there’s football, but Chowsday..?

He shakes his head in disbelief and turns away for a few seconds, spinning round again almost immediately. I’ve returned to my screen and scan it while I listen to him, looking blankly at an open document for a moment, seeing vaguely that it’s only three pm in my shift till eight, before tilting on my hand again to face him.

– I just want to watch some football. Any footie.

His elbows are by his ribs and his hands are spread in candour.

– Just 22 men running round a field with a ball.

– It’s not much to ask, I offer.

– It isn’t. I suppose I’ll just have to get some tishyows on the way home. Wanking and crying! Again.

He does the actions and grins as he wheels away. There are a couple of seconds’ pause in which he spins round a full circle and then back the way again, then with his left hand palm up for rhetorical emphasis he adds:

-Apparently, it’s possible to keep yourself hard forever, through wanking.

Animated, he gestures, a handy explanatory mime.

– If you wank too much, it just stays hard, eventually. I read that somewhere.

-That’d be an inconvenience.

– I know! Imagine…

This time there’s a couple of minutes’ pause after he rotates to face his desk again. I watch him move a sandwich, press the Avail button on the phone on and off, then on again, while he drums his hands on the desk a bit. I look back at the letter I’m drafting and add some. My fingers skip about over the keyboard.

I’m still tapping when he leans back in his chair with hands laced behind his head, leaning far back enough to suggest both extreme nonchalance and a desire to propel himself offensively by catapult somewhere quite far away. He says to the air above his desk:

-I could actually really do with knowing if I’m still going to have a job or not.

The silence of the moment is interrupted by the telephones jangling into life. Col springs back upright to take a call. I decide it’s my turn to get coffees.