Digital Ischemia

16/09/2018

Signing Your Life Away part 2/2

A workplace relationship is a casualty of lame criminality, but by-catch can come back to bite.

Signing Your Life Away began at part 1.

SCENE 12
ALICE: There’s just one problem.
GEMMA: (D) Why’s he employing clerical staff rather than business consultants?
ALICE: Lawrence and I have a history.
FELIPE: (V.O.) I’d forgotten about that. Deliberately.
SOUND: BG PARTY CHAT, MUSIC
ALICE: You see animals as resource production factories, not people.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Early on in the festival project, we had a cheesy meet and greet at one of the venues. Lawrence gave a lengthy, self-aggrandising speech which wasn’t up for discussion. He’s far too important to be harangued by some lowly contractor. He rolled his eyes and went to walk away.
ALICE: Please! I listened to your perspective; have the courtesy to listen to mine.
FELIPE: (V.O.) There was a man unused to being trounced.
ALICE: You speak of whales as if they were production facilities. One hundred years ago you would’ve said that about women. Two hundred years ago you would’ve said that about other races. My perspective is not an aberrant idealism; this is western society reawakening to what some other cultures have never lost: that other life has its own rights or entitlements, which are to be respected. And that doesn’t mean killed ‘humanely’.
FELIPE: (V.O.) She wasn’t impressed to find out that this pompous arsehole in charge of the festival committee made his money through various exploitative businesses, including whaling. She reeled off all sorts of research, observation, just a whole different perspective. I thought he’d just walk off but something caught him. He looked pretty nauseous. She finished him off.
ALICE: Don’t be afraid. What you’re experiencing is cognitive dissonance. That’s when new information conflicts with what you believe. Be open.
FELIPE: (V.O.) He pulled some weird face – sort of uncomfortable defiance and fled. I was gawping like everyone else. She just stood there trembling, watching him go, till somebody—Therese, I think—scooped her up and took her to get a drink. When I came back to life, I caught them up.
THERESE: Felipe! This one of yours?
FELIPE: No. But if I behave myself and am incredibly fortunate, I hope to be one of hers. Bravo, Alice.
FELIPE: (V.O.) She was pretty stunned. We’d not long been together. It turned out she’d seen my face at the end and thought I was horrified, that she’d gone way too far. I had to explain.
ALICE: I’m so sorry. That was just ego out of control.
FELIPE: I am truly awed. I could see you! Totally master of that landscape. Letting him lead you around while you set traps. Then you went back around every single one, collecting his bones.
ALICE: I forgot about everyone else! I couldn’t see anyone but him and his killing.
FELIPE: You were utterly brilliant. I mean, I knew you were intelligent and knowledgeable and passionate. I just didn’t know you were that good.
FELIPE: (V.O.) I went on like that for a good while: complimenting her and appreciating her right up till I apparently sacked her and she left.

SCENE 13
FELIPE: (V.O.) I make a rubbish ‘clandestine operative’ or whatever. I have no confidence or patience.
FELIPE: Have you heard from Alice?
GEMMA: (D) Not in the last forty-three minutes.
FELIPE: Have you arranged some sort of…security cover?
GEMMA: (D) Yeh, she has a bodyguard with her at all times.
FELIPE: Isn’t that a bit—? Can you be serious, please?!
GEMMA: (D) Felipe, I’m always serious, this is a serious business and your fretting is helping absolutely nobody. Haven’t you got a run?
FELIPE: You’ve sent her into the lion’s mouth!
GEMMA: (D) She’s having a conversation with a prospective employer. Do you have any respect for her ability?
FELIPE: (V.O.) Meaning do I have any respect for Gemma’s ability.
GEMMA: (D) I know where she is. She’ll let me know when she’s done.
FELIPE: Maybe she’s trying to call you right now!
GEMMA: (D) That would be ironic.

SCENE 14
FELIPE: (V.O.) Will he be so puffed up he’ll believe she’s that desperate for work she’ll accept a dodgy PA job? Of course he will; because of that very trouncing: he wants her to renounce all her morals and integrity, to admit you can’t be ethical in the real world. I hoped.
SOUND: EXTERNAL DOOR OPENS
GEMMA: Alice? Are you alright?
ALICE: I think this might be what you’re after.
SOUND: FABRIC RUSTLING, DOOR CLOSES
ALICE: (D) I was surprised you didn’t sack me for that.
LAWRENCE: (D) I’m not like that. I don’t mind being challenged.
FELIPE: (V.O.) He totally does.
LAWRENCE: (D) I like to let everyone have their say.
FELIPE: (V.O.) He absolutely doesn’t.
ALICE: (D) That’s decent of you.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Alice played humble very well.
ALICE: (D) So here I am, jobless.
LAWRENCE: (D) I’m sure we can find something for you. Although it won’t be professional grade.
ALICE: (D) I’m not fussy. Office work is fine.
LAWRENCE: (D) Paula said you were open.
FELIPE: (V.O.) He actually said “open”. Just letting her know he hadn’t quite forgiven.
LAWRENCE: (D) Paula’s been helping me out with quite a few of my businesses. We pop her in, prune out the fixed-term contracts—you know, so many of these young, under-experienced managers pay silly money for short-term employees they don’t really need.
FELIPE: (V.O.) That would be me.
LAWRENCE: (D) You’d be surprised how many we trim before they notice.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Yeh, never under-estimate how much the evil kingpin wants to tell the hero exactly how he committed his crimes. Especially when he thinks he’s getting vengeance for the wench’s earlier disrespect.

SCENE 15
FELIPE: (V.O.) Some of the audio was cringeworthy; some of it was really difficult to listen to. I hoped Alice was acting.
ALICE: (D) His explanation for sacking me? Apparently he didn’t know what he was signing! Unbelievable. Sorry, but that’s what your signature means: I have read and understand this and agree to it.
LAWRENCE: (D) The man’s a puppet.
ALICE: (D) You must be regretting appointing him.
LAWRENCE: (D) Actually, no. His trusting nature has proved very useful.
ALICE: (D) Surely he’s a liability?
LAWRENCE: (D) That appearance will make him easy to let go when the time comes.
ALICE: (D) You sound rather devious.
LAWRENCE: (D) It’s executive business management. I’m not in it to make friends. Sometimes difficult decisions have to be made. If one area isn’t performing well enough, other areas have to support it, or get cut loose.
ALICE: (D) Ah, so you’re cutting the project loose? I’m not surprised; festivals can be hit or miss.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Are you hearing those regular clicks? That’s Alice setting her traps, one by one.
LAWRENCE: (D) No, it’s actually another area that’s underperforming. the whaling, actually, but not why you’d think.
ALICE: (D) My principles seem to be lost on the rest of the population.
LAWRENCE: (D) It’s not a lack of market. These hysterical pressure groups are making politicians touchy about the cargo passing through European ports. That’s just nonsense: they’re not selling, they’re not even unloading, just refuelling. It’ll quiet down after a few months, but meanwhile the confusion causes delays in supplying Japan and cashflow.
ALICE: (D) Rotten whale meat?
LAWRENCE: (D) It’s deep frozen! Stuff lasts for years.
ALICE: (D) So long as you have fuel to keep it frozen while you float around no-man’s sea.
LAWRENCE: (D) Not a problem. This hiccup’ll pass. Meanwhile we have to run a tight ship, keep the shareholders happy.
FELIPE: (V.O.) “A tight ship”? The man’s off the chart.

SCENE 16
SOUND: MUG ON TABLE
GEMMA: He has no idea about your relationship with Felipe?
ALICE: I get the idea his business success is more luck than skill. He doesn’t bother with facts.
GEMMA: Now he’s on the record saying he instructed Paula to terminate the contracts, but continue paying the employees into the same account. Felipe will be stoked!
FELIPE: (V.O.) I was ecstatic. For a moment.
ALICE: OK, good. Can I go now?
FELIPE: (V.O.) Then I realised I had a lot more work to do.

SCENE 17
SOUND: PAPER RUSTLE
FELIPE: Is this enough to indicate the account the money was going to is his?
GEMMA: I think it’s clear enough; either that or he’s being incredibly stupid trying to lord it over Alice.
SOUND: PHONE TAP
LAWRENCE: (D) You can always check with Paula if you’re not sure of anything. Just terminate as many fixed-term contracts as you can, but continue budgeting for those costs and paying the employees.
ALICE: (D) Because I’ve changed all their bank account details to the same account?
LAWRENCE: (D) Spot on.
ALICE: (D) Should I be asking: where is the money going?
LAWRENCE: (D) I’d be disappointed if you didn’t.
ALICE: (D) I mean, I don’t want to end up working for another amoral, incompetent liar.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Ouch.
LAWRENCE: (CHUCKLE) We’re just redistributing between businesses.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Did you notice how she lures him into her traps again?

SCENE 18
FELIPE: (V.O.) Did she notice I’m still in her trap?
SOUND: CLOTHING ZIP, GRABS BAG
GEMMA: She doesn’t want to see you, no, sorry.
FELIPE: (V.O.) I went underground then. The festival staggered on and fizzled out. There was lots of legal stress, a court case. It was alternately dull and nasty, as these things are. Alice didn’t look me in the eye the entire time, never mind speak to me. When it was over, I was completely drained: I had nothing left in my life. I even stopped running. I shut down.

SCENE 19
SOUND: DOORBELL, EXTERNAL DOOR OPENS
FELIPE: Hey Gemma.
GEMMA: You look awful.
FELIPE: Thank you. I feel worse. Comes of total life failure and emptiness. Can I help you?
GEMMA: I can help you. I have some nice letters to wind up the case, which we’re going to read through together before you sign—
FELIPE: Does my signature have any meaning now? That judge was pretty fierce.
FELIPE: (V.O.) I take a painfully long time reading and questioning everything before signing now. Lesson learned.
GEMMA: I also have this note.
SOUND: PAPER CRACKLES
FELIPE: (V.O.) I recognised the writing. I nearly ripped it out her hand.
ALICE: (V.O.) When I got the letter I should have spoken to you. I’m sorry. My world crumbled so fast; everything I thought you were and we were dissolved. This investigation gave me some explanation, some reassurance. I hope it gives you decent hope of vindication. I’m on a terrifying knife edge, but I think I’m less afraid of never being with you again than I am of not loving you anymore.
FELIPE: (V.O.) My head melted. I couldn’t decipher that last bit. Afraid of trying and failing? Or finding out it’s over? Or was she saying she knew both were already the case?

SCENE 20
FELIPE: (V.O.) A few weeks later, Gemma called.
SOUND: STEPS ON PAVEMENT, BG TRAFFIC
FELIPE: I thought we’d finished all the paperwork?
GEMMA: (D) There’s just one thing outstanding.

SCENE 21
FELIPE: (V.O.) She invited me to meet her for lunch. Only it wasn’t her I met. I never asked how she did it. Too fragile to risk ruining it.
SOUND: BG CAFÉ CROCKERY CLINKS, CUSTOMERS CHAT
FELIPE: Thank you and sorry aren’t enough, but they’re a start. All your efforts with the investigation and the legal— It’s an understatement to say it was my salvation: it proved I was set-up. But I still shouldn’t’ve signed anything without reading it!
ALICE: I could’ve trusted you a little bit.
FELIPE: Probably safer without personal relationships in the workplace.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Meaning: please tell me we’re not better without.
ALICE: It bombed my life—I guess you know about that—but perhaps without it we wouldn’t have unpicked all the…fraud business.
FELIPE: OK, so, I’m really glad to see you’re picking up the pieces.
SOUND: CHAIR DRAGS, RUSTLE
FELIPE: (CONT’D) Do you have to go? I was hoping—
FELIPE: (V.O.) She stayed, we talked, we even laughed a bit. We met again every other evening for a fortnight. I started running again.

SCENE 22
SOUND: WIND BUFFETS CLOTHING, BG BIRD CALLS
ALICE: I know this is mad, but I wonder if something like this was going to happen anyway – as if we needed a major jolt and if it wasn’t this it would’ve been something else.
FELIPE: That is mad, but if it means I get to court you twice in one lifetime, I’m incredibly lucky.
FELIPE: (V.O.) I know; I actually said “court”.
FELIPE: Although maybe not as incompetent director Felipe.
FELIPE: (V.O.) She smiled that smile. She said—
ALICE: Do you have any other sexy identities?
FELIPE: (V.O.) All my tension just went. Most of it, anyway.

END

15/09/2018

Signing Your Life Away part 1/2

A workplace relationship is a casualty of lame criminality, but by-catch can come back to bite.

SCENE 1
FELIPE: (V.O.) Never have a personal relationship with a colleague. (PAUSE) Not even if it’s the best thing to happen in your life? Is it worth the price? See what you think. One day I came home to no-one.
SOUND: EXTERNAL DOOR BANGS
FELIPE: Alice?
FELIPE: (V.O.) I was organising a local crafts festival. If you’ve heard of it, it will be for the wrong reasons. In any case, it barely ran once and it doesn’t exist anymore. She—Alice—was designing the artwork: brochure, leaflets, posters, signage. Straightforward except that I kept changing not just the participants and the timings and the locations, but the whole atmosphere and the audience profile. I was over-reacting. I was under-experienced. She was—
ALICE: You’re certainly challenging. I suppose this is good exercise for me: I do the work five times over and eventually you come back to where we started? (CHUCKLE)
FELIPE: I’m sorry. Artists keep dropping out; they don’t like how it’s shaping up, so I change it, so others change their minds. It’s like herding bees.
FELIPE: (V.O.) We didn’t meet through work; I didn’t employ her because I liked her; we just discovered—
ALICE: Are you stalking me? Oh! You’re Director Felipe and also Hill Runner Phil!
FELIPE: I have multiple personalities.
ALICE: I think it would be sexier to say ‘multiple identities’.
FELIPE: (V.O.) She said “sexier”. I was hooked. I rented a flat to be on site. She stayed with me whenever she was up to consult on the project. She made everything easier, more fun. She made me less of an idiot. Then she vanished.
SOUND: TABLET, KEYS DROP ON COUNTER
FELIPE: Alice? You here?
FELIPE: (V.O.) I called her phone.
SOUND: TAPPING, PHONE RINGING OUT
FELIPE: (V.O.) By eight o’clock I was calling colleagues.
FELIPE: Is Alice down there? I thought maybe she was taking photos of the aqueduct? (PAUSE) OK, she must be on her way back. Cheers.
FELIPE: (V.O.) By ten o’clock I was calling everyone, anyone.
SOUND: TAPPING, PHONE RINGING
FELIPE: Hey, it’s Felipe. Is Alice with you? (PAUSE) No, I called him already. (PAUSE) She’s not answering. (PAUSE) She left there…six hours ago. (PAUSE) Yeh, I’m getting worried.
FELIPE: (V.O.) By two AM I was calling the nearest hospital, the police.
FELIPE: Her clothes?
FELIPE: (V.O.) They had me check in the wardrobe, the bathroom. Most of her clothes were gone, her toothbrush, her special bread without the wheat. She had planned to leave. I just felt like a twat as the officer tactfully explained they don’t get involved when it seems to be a relationship issue. A ‘relationship issue’? How did I not know? Was I that much of an idiot?

SCENE 2
FELIPE: (V.O.) I didn’t sleep. Next day I went to work. Somehow I thought I’d see her there.
SOUND: WIND BUFFETS CLOTHING
THERESE: Not seen her. Maybe she’s working at home?
FELIPE: (V.O.) I barely took in what people were saying to me. I was totally focused on Alice.
THERESE: Felipe, go for a run, go home. Maybe she’ll surprise you?
FELIPE: (V.O.) I went. I got a surprise.

SCENE 3
SOUND: STEPS ECHO IN STAIRWELL
FELIPE: Carl, can you work from my flat this afternoon?
CARL: (D) No bother. You got workies in?
FELIPE: Alice has apparently fucked off without bothering to speak to me but she still has keys and I can see she’s been back this morning taking stuff.
CARL: (D) What?!
SOUND: EXTERNAL DOOR CLICKS, BANGS. BG WIND BUFFETS, TRAFFIC. STEPS ON PAVEMENT.
FELIPE: I mean her stuff.
CARL: (D) Doesnae seem like her. Is she alright?
FELIPE: Well, clearly she’s fine. But I need to be on site this afternoon so I need you to sit here in case she comes back again.
CARL: (D) You want me to keep her there?
FELIPE: No, I think that would be illegal. Just ask her what’s going on.

SCENE 4
FELIPE: (V.O.) So he did.
SOUND: PACKING BOX, SLIDING BOX ACROSS FLOOR
CARL: Apparently I’ve no’ to try to stop you leaving, but could you no’ just speak to him?
ALICE: You’re his friend; I won’t try to turn you against him. If he hasn’t told you what he did.
CARL: He says he’s nae idea, and I certainly dinnae ken, so you may as well tell me.
ALICE: Sacked me.
CARL: Eh? But that’s no reason to walk away fae him, fae this.
ALICE: I think lying to me is.
CARL: Aye, come to think of it, was he no’ saying last week everyone was getting extended?
ALICE: How could he say so to my face then sack me?
CARL: Here; have a wee seat. I’m no’ surprised you’re a’ rattled.
SOUND: CHAIR FOAM HISS
ALICE: I’m horrified! I feel constantly sick! He totally betrayed me. How could he be so cold? Even just professionally? So I’m finished here. Not well managed but nothing illegal.
CARL: And personally?
ALICE: Who have I gotten involved with? Someone who could consciously mislead me?
CARL: Dinnae look at me. I’m baffled. I’d swear he doesnae ken, but. Where are you staying?
ALICE: Sorry but not your business.
SOUND: GRABS BAGS, BOX
CARL: I willnae tell him. I just— Something feels wrong about this…apart from the obvious. If something kicks off I’ll maybe need to get a hold of you.

SCENE 5
FELIPE: (V.O.) Then he told me.
SOUND: WIND BUFFETS CLOTHING, BG TRAFFIC
CARL: Apparently you sent her a letter?
FELIPE: Why would I—?!
CARL: I dinnae ken! The whole thing’s daft!
FELIPE: Well, after you called I checked her file and there’s nothing weird there.
CARL: No copy letter?
FELIPE: Did she seem…at all…delusional?

SCENE 6
FELIPE: (V.O.) Other wheels were coming off too.
SOUND: WIND BUFFETS CLOTHING, BG BIRD CALLS
FELIPE: Therese!
THERESE: I thought we were meeting an hour ago?
FELIPE: I know; I’m sorry. I got held up with…everything. Just tell me your little snags are under control and aren’t getting worse.
THERESE: Felipe.
FELIPE: Please tell me you haven’t got a staff issue? (PAUSE) Therese?!
THERESE: Can’t lie. I have a staff issue.
FELIPE: (V.O.) Therese’s team move display furniture about between sites. They’re a well-oiled machine. When there’s enough cogs.
FELIPE: What is going on?!
THERESE: You tell me. You sacked three of our contractors. We can’t just stretch to fit whatever workload. A heads up would’ve been nice.
FELIPE: (EXASPERATED EXHALE) How did I allegedly do this?
SOUND: PAPER CRACKLES
FELIPE: OK, that is my signature.

SCENE 7
FELIPE: (V.O.) I was teetering on paranoid hysteria. If that’s a thing.
SOUND: PAPER RUSTLE
FELIPE: What’s still to be filed, that Nancy or her replacement left?
GREG: Nothing.
FELIPE: There must be record of changes somewhere?
GREG: I don’t have a password for the system yet.
FELIPE: Right, we’ll use mine. Can I just check: have you had a letter saying you’re sacked?
SOUND: TYPING
GREG: Hope not. Only started yesterday.

SCENE 8
SOUND: TYPING, INTERNAL DOOR OPENS
GEMMA: Felipe?
FELIPE: Thanks for coming over so quickly, Gemma. I don’t know where to start. I think something is seriously wrong in the admin. I need someone completely independent to investigate.
GEMMA: How wrong? Do we need to alert lawyers?
FELIPE: I don’t know. Probably. Can you just take a look first?
GEMMA: Walk me through.
FELIPE: Several of the contractors received letters, apparently from me, telling them their contracts aren’t being renewed. We just do it on a month-to-month basis for—
GEMMA: “Apparently”?
FELIPE: Signed by me but not agreed…I don’t know. That’s just the start of it. There’s no record of any changes but when I looked at all their electronic files, just by chance, I noticed one had a new bank account. I happen to know because…because she’s—she was—my girlfriend.
GEMMA: Still not exactly high treason.
FELIPE: Until you see that everyone who got let go has the same bank account.
GEMMA: Why would they share an account?
FELIPE: Well, obviously they don’t.
GEMMA: Obviously?
FELIPE: Sorry, I mean I asked one guy who hasn’t stormed off in disgust yet. Someone changed it without his knowledge. His wages aren’t going to him.
GEMMA: Not if he’s been terminated.
FELIPE: That’s the thing: on the system he’s still live—still a current employee. They all are—all the folk who’ve been written to.
GEMMA: So they stop working but their wages are all going into one pot somewhere else? It seems pretty amateur as an embezzlement scam.
FELIPE: Except for the scaling. This is happening right across the project. And I wouldn’t have put it together nearly so fast if it hadn’t been that one of them was…my—

SCENE 9
FELIPE: (V.O.) I know Gemma from college. She’s always gone at things with her teeth.
GEMMA: Alice? This is Gemma Cairney. I’m auditing the Canal Festival administration.
ALICE: (D) How did you get this number?
GEMMA: It’s one of the accurate pieces of information in your file. There appears to have been an abuse of…procedures.
ALICE: (D) I don’t work there—
GEMMA: I know. That’s part of the issue. Can we talk?

SCENE 10
SOUND: BG CAFÉ CROCKERY CLINKS, CUSTOMERS CHAT
GEMMA: (CONFIDENTIAL) I can’t give it a legal label, but it appears to be a clumsy attempt at fraud.
ALICE: Yes, I missed that personality: Felipe the Fraud.
GEMMA: I’m aware of your relationship. Felipe brought me in because he noticed the anomalies.
ALICE: I think it’s called dissociative disorder. He can get professional help.
GEMMA: I understand you feel aggrieved – justifiably. Can I explain where we are? I’m hoping you’ll feel in a position to help.
ALICE: (SPLUTTER) To help him out of being incompetent and slopey-shouldered?!
GEMMA: We need more evidence before we can get a legal intervention – the bank won’t give out who the destination account is registered to. Apparently you can put any name on a cash transfer – I could put your name beside my account details and—
ALICE: Yes, I think I experienced this already.
GEMMA: Of course, but what I mean is: banks don’t verify that the label matches the account holder. The money just comes in and they shunt it according to the account numbers.
ALICE: And yet they’re so hot on security when it suits them to hassle you.
GEMMA: We’re…examining actions taken by the temporary PA who covered after Nancy left—Paula—Felipe says the Chairman—Lawrence—brought her in.
ALICE: Did she fake Felipe’s signature?
GEMMA: No, he thinks he did sign them, just—
ALICE: (SPLUTTER) You know, I am really quite busy now, with trying to find a new job.
GEMMA: —but this is the point: he was misdirected. Obviously he realises he should’ve given them his full attention—
ALICE: I think this is what your signature means?
GEMMA: —but Paula— Felipe feels he was rushed—coerced. She had some fluster about a broken printer and catching the post.
ALICE: And we must take his word?
GEMMA: We’re hoping to—hoping you can help us get some evidence. We want to ask some questions (FADE)
FELIPE: (V.O.) Gemma said Alice was pretty hard work—hard to convince. I don’t blame her. I looked like a complete shit from where she was. But luckily for me she hadn’t totally stopped caring. That gave me a tiny bit of hope in the midst of the tornado. Not just about saving my professional credibility.

SCENE 11
FELIPE: (V.O.) Alice agreed to play bait to try to entrap the chairman, Lawrence, so long as she didn’t have to speak to me. She started spending some of her new-found free time at the local gym, because the only thing we knew was Paula the temp. was a member. It wasn’t much of a stretch for Alice to say to anyone who would listen that she was desperately looking for quick work after getting sacked. I appreciated that; I know how she hates ‘networking’.
SOUND: STEPS ON PAVEMENT, BG TRAFFIC
ALICE: Gemma? This is exhausting.
GEMMA: (D) Just think how fit you’ll be!
ALICE: No, the making conversation with everyone. These people are not on my wavelength!
GEMMA: Have you met Paula?
ALICE: I was so pissed off I think she believed me. She gave me details to meet this guy with some vacancies for office work.
GEMMA: (D) Lawrence?
ALICE: She said he has all sorts of businesses and some need…streamlining.
GEMMA: (D) That’s an interesting word.
ALICE: There’s just one problem.
GEMMA: (D) Why’s he employing clerical staff rather than business consultants?
ALICE: Lawrence and I have a history.

concludes at part 2

08/07/2018

Chronic Creepiness and Complicity

Filed under: Shorts — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Teepwriter @ 17:00

“I didn’t think you’d remember little old me!”
This is how I imagine that affected vulnerable voice, out of that great dough-ball head, atop the massive balloon that just didn’t work as effeminate, let alone endearing.

This is not my #metoo moment. I wouldn’t elevate chronic creepiness to that level of trauma. But how do I make sense of socially inept people misreading one another, or simply drawing a blank in their repertoire of professional behaviour? Remember? How could I forget all those insinuations, false assumptions, unreciprocated intimacies?

How could I forget you saying ‘I just changed your password because I knew you wouldn’t mind’ and because you could, with your super-user privileges. I lay on my sickbed, mind whirling through personal files I had legitimately kept on there, alongside work files. Financial details, personal photos, things I should never have had to consider passwording individually as they were in my allocated private space. You could have looked at any of them. You could have copied the whole lot to some offline drive for your later investigation. I felt sick. I didn’t think you were malicious, just somehow you kept acting like we were close. We weren’t. No one thought so. I wasn’t giving mixed messages. Other colleagues volunteered that they found you weird. You were like a naïve stalker: constantly pushing boundaries under the misapprehension that I shared your ‘more than colleagues’ feeling.

I was happier in those old times, fifteen years ago, when the boss saying “I’m not here to make friends” was a sign of good management. Now the vogue is to appear to be super friendly with every colleague. Otherwise they won’t be motivated to do anything for you. Even if that’s their job. What price professionalism?

I let you visit my house four times, because it seemed that I ought too – I felt some bizarre workplace pressure to ‘bond’ with team-mates, especially ones based in other offices at the other end of the country. The first time I thought you might genuinely be interesting, someone I could get along with outside the workplace. At the door you greeted me with a kiss on the lips and a packet of melted chocolate as my partner sat in the living room. Neither was pleasant. I was stunned. You said you’d left it in the car not imagining the sun would be so warm. You’d already cut the corner and begun drinking it. I declined by making a joke of it. Did you think we were going to share it? I put it down to social clumsiness.

When I visited your office you invited me to your house for tea with your family. Again, not my choice as I like to recharge in the evening, especially after a long journey away from home. But it seemed antisocial to decline. It was awkward. Your family was friendly but slightly baffled why I was there; your wife seemed tired. You were peculiar, pouring me special local brews then pulling them out of my hand when I seemed to get too open about work. Insisting I see your personal library closet which you had created by partitioning one of your children’s already small rooms. Insisting I saw the full extent of your garden and the various engineering projects therein. I returned to my hotel feeling utterly unenriched. I didn’t repeat the experience.

After my partner and I had moved to a larger house, you appeared to have trouble getting overnight accommodation to attend a meeting at my office. I again felt workplace pressure to plug the gap. I had a spare room now. My boyfriend had no problem with you; he knew you slightly and was so wrapped up in his own workplace troubles he barely engaged. After tea, I tried to be sociable before washing and sleeping. As I sat on the sofa, trying to find an interesting conversation topic, you took the opportunity to kneel in the floor beside me and read poetry to me. You needed the brighter lamp, you said. I didn’t want a bright light on; I didn’t want poetry or your enthusings. I don’t read poetry, much less appreciate it. You seemed to expect me to relish your science fantasy word world. I just wanted to escape but already I felt too uncomfortable to leave you roaming my personal space unattended.

When one of your parents died, you took your family to the other end of the country for the funeral and the sad business of tidying up a person’s effects. The journey was long so a third time I felt some workplace pressure to oil the wheels between colleagues. I offered you a pitstop on your route home as you were travelling at the weekend. I made some snacks and hung about. Your family all trooped in, tired and awkward, some of whom I’d met once at your house. They weren’t hungry; they’d been eating crap from every service station. They didn’t want a seat; they’d been sitting tightly packed for hours. They didn’t want to speak to someone they had no connection with right after a funeral. I wasn’t surprised my lame jokey attitude fell flat. I didn’t know how else to behave.

In the midst of this awkwardness, you suddenly, clandestinely, asked if you could speak to me in private. I reeled in the wave of creepiness all over again. I had thought I was safe from that inappropriacy in the vicinity if your family. You clutched my upper arm, brought your face too close and whispered that you had noticed an absence of shoes in the porch – my partner’s were gone. I suppose you were trying to be tactful by not raising a painful subject in public. I fumbled that we had separated and I had imagined you had learned by some workplace osmosis. My subtle implication being: I didn’t want to specifically tell you for fear you would think it a personal intimation and my ‘availability’ applied to you somehow. Nor were you one of my trusted confidantes.

When I was off sick for a few weeks, you took it upon yourself to be my official team visitor, to bring me a thoughtful card from everyone else, a couple of genuine queries, and an extra long cable so I could use my laptop in bed. I found out later this wasn’t sanctioned by our manager; she wasn’t even aware. My housemate was puzzled by your behaviour: the way you just entered my bedroom, plonked everything on the bed, slumped on the carpet alongside me, and waffled on about the office and your home life. I was so fatigued I couldn’t even work out if my discomfort was reasonable, let alone form a coherent sentence to eject you. Your wittering seemed merely harmless, thoughtless, self-absorbed, right up until you suddenly noticed I wasn’t wearing my glasses. “I never noticed how big your eyes are,” you mused. My whole body clenched with energy I could ill afford.

After the chat waned, you began setting up the laptop for me, seemingly generously. I wasn’t interested; I didn’t want to use it at that moment; I didn’t need help in any case. You then casually notified me that I’d need to change my password. My exhausted, over-blathered-at, hypoglycaemic brain registered anxiety at this development but couldn’t simultaneously process implications. I just weakly acknowledged. You knelt expectantly beside my bed, as if for a pat on the head, but probably for reinforcement of your trusted status. I stared into space, willing you to go.

My housemate became agitated after an hour and a half; I hadn’t had any breakfast and the doctor was due. That thoughtful concern gave me a welcome chance to twist your overstay into overkindness and engineer your leaving. Yet you stood in the hall rambling on in your over-intimate fashion for another twenty minutes.

Over the following days, my panicked mind raced through what you had given yourself access to, for the spurious reason of copying over a work file you wanted access to. I pushed myself to log in before I felt up to it, just to see for myself if there was anything to see in my personal drive, any spoor of your presence. I checked last modified dates but didn’t see any since I’d been absent. If only there had been a last accessed date field. But even that wouldn’t be conclusive as, as I’ve said, you could’ve simply copied out the files.

During that convalescence I spent much time and energy contemplating whether to make a formal complaint about your abuse of privilege. I fought against upsetting the ‘team dynamic’, against giving more issues to our overburdened manager, against damaging your career disproportionately, against over-formalising an issue that had probably arisen from my own social ineptitude. I should have been more blunt with you. I didn’t have the energy for difficult conversations.

With increasing hindsight I recognise your social awkwardness, but yours seems paired with under-sensitivity to others’ reactions. My version has over-sensitivity; I blame myself and try to change my algorithm every time, when often it’s just someone having a bad day.

I resisted further hints about accommodation and visits, and kept emails and text messages strictly professional. I became frighteningly twisted in my wording, learning avidly from the business speak fashion of each month: I didn’t want to ‘mask your genuine need for business accommodation’ by putting you up.

The workplace got more stressful, a new manager exerted more pressure on all of us, my illness recurred. I felt my position too precarious to make any more waves. After an extended absence I had to resign my job and trust my colleagues to sort out my desk cabinet. I told my favourite desk buddy what was my personal stuff and what was for the company to retain. Unfortunately, inevitably, you involved yourself and several important items went astray. Some were delayed in reaching me by a few weeks, some disappeared altogether, some were delivered out of the blue three years later.

In the middle of a summer heatwave I found at the porch a company bag containing some of the missing items from my desk and some random financial documents which should never have left the office. Apparently you had also left the organisation and in the sorting out these had turned up. When I enquired of ex-colleagues, tact and unconcern covered any embarrassment and left the circumstances uncomfortably unexplained. The wave of anxiety rose again.

There were plenty of other little abuses of the working relationship, exacerbated by my failure to establish boundaries. I understand the desire to know more about someone, and the easy temptation to abuse professional privileges to gain that information, or just the frightening ease of internet research, in order to seem insightful and attractive. The boundary is no doubt different for different people. And we’re all inconsistent. And complicity creeps up on you.

I hope you don’t remember me.

01/07/2018

Egg Timer

Two colleagues share ‘corporate intelligence’ about some less than intelligent IT events

JIM: That’s the egg timer woman.
KEN: The one that crashed the whole IT system?
JIM: Aye——no.
KEN: What do you mean?
JIM: What she actually did, well, I’ll need to start at the beginning. First thing she did was get the helpdesk lassie fired.
KEN: I never heard about that.
JIM: No, well, basically the helpdesk lassie was taking the pish. She was constantly complaining about her workload and how she couldn’t get anything done for this constant stream of emails.
KEN: Wasn’t that her job?
JIM: Aye, but nobody really looked closely to see what she was actually doing. Ken what Usman’s like: doesnae like to get too close to the keys. Obviously she was meant to be answering folk’s queries about, I don’t know, how do you copy and paste, where’s my file I was working on yesterday, type thing. Pissy stuff. Anyway, she takes a sickie for all the ‘stress’, and this woman, who’s some sort of auditor I think, says to Usman, since he’s like the helpdesk manager, she’ll take the opportunity to review it.
KEN: Right, got landed with the job.
JIM: No’ exactly. Apparently, in the course of one day, she deletes 2400 emails that’ve been sat in the inbox for more than six months – this is no’ the techy stuff, mind, just the stuff where the problem’s between the keyboard and the seat.
KEN: Very good.
JIM: Same time she’s running reports on the lassie’s online activity, ken: all what she’s been daein’ on her computer the whole time.
KEN: How do you do that?
JIM: The IT folk can see that easy.
KEN: Shit. I didn’t know that.
JIM: Dinnae be daft: they’re no constantly peering at your computer, watching you spending your lunch hour looking up motors and transfers and pish. They’ve work to do. Just if a manager is concerned about someone’s productivity, like, they have a look. So, it turns out the lassie’s spending two and three hours a day playing Candy Crush or Angry Birds or suchlike, and also a fair bit of time on the phone to private numbers, ken. Basically blethering.
KEN: So that’s the end of her.
JIM: Aye, and the auditor totally overhauls the protocols. First thing folk notice is they start getting email replies fae the helpdesk dead quick. And most of them just say RTHF.
KEN: What?
JIM: “Read the help file. It’s much quicker.” Actually I’ve one on my phone here that Sandra forwarded: goes on “unless you just want to put off a task you don’t fancy. In that case copy this code into the command window – you can change the 27 to however many minutes you want – and you’ll get some peace.”
KEN: What’s the command window?
JIM: Doesnae matter; there’s instructions. Basically pulls an animated gif off the shared drive and runs it over a black screen for as long as you’ve set.
KEN: So nothing’s crashed?
JIM: No, just looks like it’s hung.
KEN: Egg timer! Cunning.
JIM: Dinnae get any ideas! You ken what happens.
KEN: Oh, yeh.
JIM: Aye. Nobody should take that gimmick seriously, right? No’ gettin’ away wi’ that in the workplace. No. Within three days five folk in Strategy have the thing running hours so they can take a long lunch. No’ one of them thought to wonder if anyone else was doing it. They just trot aff.
KEN: Does no-one notice?
JIM: That’s the point. Takes the Strategy Director two mere days to get suspicious why all her staff are no’ working and it’s all getting blamed on the IT. She calls Usman; he says there’s nae problems. She hauls him up to the office, shows him the egg timers; he hits F5, screen back to normal, emails, everything sat there, no problem. Well, except they’ve broken the security, haven’t they, by no’ locking their computers when they’re away. Strike one.
KEN: So the twits come back from lunch and see they’re rumbled?
JIM: Aye. They blame it on the helpdesk.
KEN: All this over five folk in Strategy?
JIM: No, see everyone was at it.
KEN: Seriously? Are they all stupid?
JIM: Seemingly. Everyone of them thought they were special. So, Auditor woman gets summoned. Now, seemingly, according to Sandra again, ’cause she was in the Strategy meeting, Auditor woman comes right in wi’ this attitude, like she’s no’ taking any shit. Director’s hackles are up right away. Usman’s just sort of watching fae the corner, see what happens wi’ two alpha females. The director’s had Sandra put the bloody email up on the wall so they can point at it. She launches into demanding explanations. Auditor woman just laughs and says “how’s this my problem?” She draws a circle round the bit about ‘putting off a task you don’t fancy’ and says “this is the problem; this is _your_ problem. Depending on your management style, you either have a motivation problem or a discipline problem. Sort it.”
KEN: Strike two?
JIM: Aye.
KEN: What’s strike three?
JIM: What’re we daein’ here?
KEN: I don’t know; waiting for some announcement?
JIM: Aye, announcing we’re all taking some assessments.
KEN: For what?
JIM: How are we employing folk wi’ nae IT savvy? Folk that are asking these daft questions in the first place. Like she says, either they’re incompetent or they’re taking the piss. How are the managers no’ managing?
KEN: Right.
JIM: What’re you daein’?
KEN: Typing an email. Helpdesk.
JIM: Are you tryin’ tae get struck aff?!
KEN: I want to speak to this woman.
JIM: What’re you typin’?
KEN: “My egg timer’s broken.”

17/12/2017

In The Dark: Cupboard

SOUND: DOOR BURSTS OPEN, RAPID SLIDING STEPS, DOOR BANGS SHUT
VIOLET: (EXHALE) Aaaaaaah! Nauseating little goblin! All goblins are little, Violet. Try to avoid pleonasms.
SOUND: PACING
VIOLET (CONT’D): Poisonous vat of slime! I think you mean vat of poisonous slime, Violet. No matter. Myopic warmonger! Inelegant. Sulphuric harpy! Alright, that’ll do. (EXHALE)
SOUND: WHUMP-CLACK
VIOLET (CONT’D): Ow.
SOUND: DOOR CLICKS OPEN
ARNOLD: Ms Bogscrattle?
VIOLET: (PAUSE) What?
ARNOLD: It is you?
VIOLET: Well done; you rumbled me.
ARNOLD: Are you … well?
VIOLET: Very not.
ARNOLD: I’m sorry.
VIOLET: Not your fault, Mr Shipworm.
ARNOLD: I wasn’t apologising; I was expressing regret.
VIOLET: Could you close the door? You’ll attract attention.
ARNOLD: From the outside?
VIOLET: Whatever.
SOUND: SHUFFLE, CLICK
VIOLET (CONT’D): You’re still here.
ARNOLD: This … intrigues me.
VIOLET: It’s a cupboard.
SOUND: SWITCH CLICKS RAPIDLY
VIOLET (CONT’D): Not working. I like it dark. Sanctuary. Usually.
SOUND: FINGER TIP SQUEAKS ON TILE
ARNOLD: I think it may be a toilet. It feels tiled.
VIOLET: Or a shower. Whatever I’m sitting on seems to have slats.
ARNOLD: Doesn’t sound comfortable.
VIOLET: I’m being very slowly filleted.
ARNOLD: Er, then time is of the essence. I did want to speak to you.
VIOLET: Speak away.
ARNOLD: I mean with you, not at you.
VIOLET: And yet there I was, in the appointed place, at the appointed time, almost with the appointed person. The music was divine. And yet… And yet…
ARNOLD: I thought you were someone else.
VIOLET: Again.
ARNOLD: You liked the music?
VIOLET: That’s not going to salvage this. I deliberately misled you; you punished me. Can we call it even? I’ve had a rather trying day. Even before your sulphuric harpy.
ARNOLD: How wonderful.
VIOLET: Thank you for support. Can I be alone now?
ARNOLD: (WISTFULLY) Sulphuric harpy. Wonderful. Vicious. But why would you say such a thing?
SOUND: WHUMP-CLACK, FABRIC RUSTLE
VIOLET: Mr Shipworm.
ARNOLD: (CLOSE) Yes?
VIOLET: Why are you holding my arm?
ARNOLD: Oh, sorry, sorry; really shouldn’t touch you there … here … anywhere.
VIOLET: Molested by an attractive man in a dark cupboard. It could go either way, couldn’t it?
ARNOLD: Toilet.
VIOLET: Shower.
ARNOLD: Attractive?
VIOLET: You noticed that too.
ARNOLD: (CHUCKLES SADLY) Only in the dark could I be considered attractive.
VIOLET: You’re disappointingly visually discriminatory for someone who works with noise.
ARNOLD: I only sound attractive?
VIOLET: You sound narcissistic.
ARNOLD: It comes of being a performer.
VIOLET: You certainly made a performance of it.
ARNOLD: I didn’t know you were you! Twice!
VIOLET: And I exploited the loophole between my name and location.
ARNOLD: I got confused by your, er … reversing out from under the apron – you were muttering about irony and how many people it takes to change a light bulb.
VIOLET: I didn’t mean for anyone to deeply contemplate it. (PAUSE) Or my pithy muttering.
ARNOLD: Of course not. I mean: I wasn’t; my eyes just rested—
VIOLET: Joke.
ARNOLD: Ha! Well, I thought you must be one of the electrical people.
VIOLET: I can wire a plug. Apparently that equates to special skills in stage lighting.
ARNOLD: I like the air of mystery about … electronics.
VIOLET: It’s just tech. Let’s not imbue it with magical powers.
ARNOLD: You could fix the light in here.
VIOLET: I doubt it.
ARNOLD: Too dangerous?
VIOLET: Too demotivated.
ARNOLD: (WHISTLES NERVOUSLY)
VIOLET: Why is no-one allowed to listen to your practice?
ARNOLD: (SPLUTTER OF DISBELIEF)
VIOLET: Splutter all you like, but I genuinely don’t know.
ARNOLD: No, no, sorry, I mean that’s ridiculously pompous. Where did you get that from?
VIOLET: The lackey. The sulphurous harpy-esque one. Right before she unceremoniously removed me.
ARNOLD: Nonsense. What exactly did she say?
VIOLET: That I had to leave because you were not to be overheard.
ARNOLD: Ah.
VIOLET: Ah?
ARNOLD: My conversation was not to be overheard. My conversation with you. Which I was expecting to have any moment. But I thought I was waiting for someone who looked not like you.
VIOLET: To speak to or with about your still clandestine purposes.
ARNOLD: Oh, yes, I’ve drifted away again, haven’t I?
VIOLET: Is it because you’re nervous?
SOUND: CLOTHES SWISH, SNIFF
ARNOLD: Oh, god, can you smell…?!
VIOLET: No, you smell quite attractive.
ARNOLD: Oh. Ah. Er, what, then, my voice, whistling?
VIOLET: Your finger. It squeaked on the tile.
ARNOLD: Damn it. Too late to deny the rest now, I suppose?
VIOLET: I’d go on the offensive.
ARNOLD: Right. Er, why did you pretend to be someone else?
VIOLET: I’m sorry. I mean: I apologise.
ARNOLD: I’m not after an apology. I’m curious.
VIOLET: I think I was more passive; lying by omission.
ARNOLD: I’m not parsing what you said either. I just wonder why you didn’t, you know, like normal people, realise I was asking you for you because I didn’t know your face.
VIOLET: I did.
ARNOLD: Yes, of course you did, but I mean why, having realised, didn’t you just volunteer who you were and painlessly clear up my ignorance?
VIOLET: Have I caused you pain?
ARNOLD: Only a mild psychosocial wound.
VIOLET: I was flummoxed.
ARNOLD: By the electricity?
VIOLET: You could say that.
ARNOLD: Had you shocked yourself? What?
VIOLET: No, that was you.
ARNOLD: How did I shock you?
VIOLET: You were a whole lot more … than I expected.
ARNOLD: Oh. Right. Oh!
VIOLET: So, you see, it takes ten minutes in a cupboard in the dark to get to that.
ARNOLD: Toilet.
VIOLET: It’s a shower!
SOUND: STANDS, DOOR CLICKS
ARNOLD: Are you going to tell Facilities?
VIOLET: About your interference in my bolthole?
ARNOLD: Ahem. About the light not working.
VIOLET: I doubt it. I like it.
ARNOLD: Me too. Would you mind if we did this again sometime?

28/11/2017

In the Dark: Office

Two colleagues unravel a socio-technical faux pas.

PATRICK: Do you see what she did?! Why’s there no lights?
SOUND: SWITCH CLICKS RAPIDLY, TABLET CLUNKS ON DESK
NEIL: Turn it till I see, then…
SOUND: TAP, GLINGLE
NEIL CHUCKLES
PATRICK: Every time I go to get my email, this…daft picture pops up, jiggling!
NEIL: Very guid. Very guid.
PATRICK: It’s not good! It’s technical harassment!
SOUND: TAP, GLINGLE
NEIL: Sparkly wand! (GIGGLES) It’s like you have magic powers.
PATRICK: Yeh, magic. Why are you in here with no lights?
SOUND: TAP, GLINGLE, TAP, TAP, GLINGLE
NEIL: Aye, it’s like it’s you making the app come up. (CHUCKLES)
SOUND: TAP, GLINGLE
NEIL (CONT’D): The smug face is totally you.
PATRICK: Had enough?
NEIL: Naw.
SOUND: TAP, GLINGLE, TAP, TAP, GLINGLE
PATRICK: OK, OK. Come on, now. How do I get rid of it?
NEIL: Who cares? It’s brilliant! Patrick the arrogant magician.
PATRICK: Can you stop laughing at my trauma here and… I’ve been hacked!
NEIL: It’s no’ really hacking, is it, if you hand over the device yoursel’, no’ even locked?
PATRICK: I thought tablets were supposed to be unhackable?! Where did she get that picture?
NEIL: Probably took it. No’ difficult, seeing as you’re a’ways pointing at some puir wee soul, barking orders. Here, see mines.
SOUND: TABLET SLIDES ACROSS DESK
NEIL (CONT’D): She must’ve recorded me when I was chuntering over those dire business proposals.
SOUND: TAP
NEIL: (D) No, we’re no’ doing that. No’ doing that either.
NEIL CHUCKLES
SOUND: TAP
NEIL: (D) No, we’re no’ doing that. No’ doing that either.
NEIL CHUCKLES
PATRICK: You can’t do that; you can’t record people without them knowing! It’s illegal!
NEIL: How is it? You have a picture of yoursel’ on your own device: call the cops. (CHUCKLES)
PATRICK: This isn’t funny! This is frightening! Surely that’s affecting your productivity: every time you go to do something you get that daft message.
NEIL: No’ really, if you think about it. Setting aside that you definitely need to lighten up, so much of what we do online is knee-jerk; you dinnae really need to do it, or no’ right that moment. You’re addicted! You need to sit back and organise your thoughts.
PATRICK: “Organise your thoughts”?!
NEIL: Aye! So let’s sit back and—
PATRICK: In the dark.
NEIL: —think this through. What, are you afeart of the dark now?
PATRICK: I’m in a state of high alert! I’ve been threatened!
NEIL: The on’y thing getting threatened is your pride. So, what exactly did you say to her?
PATRICK: I said, “Neil says you can sort my email.”
NEIL: Ah, well, nae wonder.
PATRICK: What?
NEIL: Nae preamble. Did you no’ think to say who you were? Ask who she was? How her day’s gaun an’ that?
PATRICK: I did sort of explain: I said I was really busy—I was right in the middle of rehearsal and it was going all wobbly—so I needed my email sorted by the end of the day.
NEIL: Sweet.
PATRICK: I don’t have time for niceties! I don’t have time for the stupid helpdesk! Plus, obviously, my email’s hoofed. I had two thousand and sixty unread messages! I was on every group! I couldn’t see the wood for the bees!
NEIL: Did she say anything?
PATRICK: Er, she asked me to set it not to lock itself or something.
NEIL: Ah-ha.
PATRICK: Then I had to go back to the unattended imbeciles in the hall.

NEIL: Did you get it back by the end of the day?
PATRICK: In a plastic bag.
NEIL: Gubbed?
PATRICK: No, it’s just a bit odd, isn’t it? It’s like getting your dry-cleaning back in a fancy plastic case with a hanger when you just took it scrumpled in a bag.
NEIL: When do you get dry-cleaning?
PATRICK: Never mind, it’s suspicious, like: why are you polishing the turd?
NEIL: I think you’re taking the wrong things to get dry-cleaned.
PATRICK: So I asked. And she said, “security.” So I said, “pretty obvious what it is.” And she said, “yes,” in that patronising way, “but when the forensic team arrives, my fingerprints won’t be on it.”
NEIL GUFFAWS
PATRICK: That put the wind right up me! I’m looking down at my big greasy paw wrapped right round it. Right enough, the rest of it’s totally clean.
NEIL: Can you see where you went wrong?
PATRICK: In ever coming to speak to you today?
SOUND: TAP
NEIL: (D) No, we’re no’ doing that. No’ doing that either.
NEIL CHUCKLES

NEIL: How’s your email?
PATRICK: Oh, that’s lovely: all sorted, tidied up, all the pish banished somewhere.
NEIL: There you are.
PATRICK: At what price?!
NEIL: So you have a wee animated caricature that maybe gets a bit annoying.
PATRICK: And an email in my inbox called ‘kiss my osud’.
NEIL: I beg your pardon?
PATRICK: I think I slightly incited that.
NEIL: What did you do?!
PATRICK: When I came up at break, she was—
NEIL: You came back up?
PATRICK: Yeh?
NEIL: Where was I?
PATRICK: How should I know?! I can’t even operate my tablet! I don’t have a tracking satellite!
NEIL: Well, this’ll be it. Gi’es it, then.
PATRICK: Ah, she was just sort of swaying about, bending.
NEIL: How do you mean?
PATRICK: I don’t know, it looked like contemporary dance. Maybe she was doing yoga. Wasn’t work anyway. So I got a bit annoyed.
NEIL: Oh, aye.
PATRICK: I asked her if it was done yet. She glances over at it and says, “fifty-five percent.” So I say, “can’t you speed it up?” No, apparently it’s ‘synchronising’ so we’re at the mercy of the electronicary.
NEIL: So you were a wee bit tetchy, ya arrogant arsehole.
PATRICK: No, that was when I said something really foolish, considering— Do you know, I really hate how these techies basically hold you to ransom! Like, ‘lick my arse or I’ll accidentally wipe your life’s work—’
NEIL: Is it no’ ‘click my arse’?
PATRICK: Why is this a massive joke to you?!
NEIL: Because it is! What stupid thing did you say?!
PATRICK: I said, “I hope you’re not reading my emails.” I was pretty snotty.
NEIL: Aye. And her witty comeback?
PATRICK: How do you know?
NEIL: I have a sense of impending doom.
PATRICK: She glances at the screen again and snaps back, “yeh, I’m getting moist for your thoughts on… Jane Ace.”
NEIL: Jane whae?
PATRICK: Janàček. One of the emails that I did want. That just tipped me over the edge into haughty overload—
NEIL: Naw!
PATRICK: I just barked, “I need you to finish this—” She spits back, “can’t rush those security checks.” So I said, “just bring it to me before five.”
NEIL: Aaaiihhhh!
PATRICK: I know! Calm as a sanddune she asks, “can I check where you’ll be? Or should I just follow the glow of your specialness?”
NEIL SUCKS HIS TEETH
PATRICK: So I snap back, “hall six,” and stride out.
NEIL LAUGHS HYSTERICALLY
PATRICK: You don’t even know… I knew I’d been offensive, I just couldn’t stop. It never hit me till I saw the ‘Osud’ email: she kept saying ‘check’.
NEIL: Ah! Your yanar-check?
PATRICK: And Czech, the nationality. Osud is one of his operas.
NEIL: Well, that was worth waiting for. It must be braw to finally meet someone on your twatty, cliquey, trivia wavelength. While pissing them right aff.
PATRICK: Totally outmanoeuvred. But I think she likes me: “Dear Mr So-Frightfully-Busy-and-Important,” it starts…
SOUND: TAP, GLINGLE, TAP, TAP, GLINGLE
NEIL SIGHS

PATRICK: Where is the malevolent harpy, anyway?
NEIL: After she fixed your tablet, and helped me fix the power, she really had to go away and do her own work.
PATRICK: What do you mean: fix the power? We’re sitting in the dark!
NEIL: It broke again. Well, I broke it. I just couldnae leave it; I should’ve left but I couldnae stop myself going to press a button: FIZZT! Then you turn up with your light entertainment so here I still am.
PATRICK: What other job?
NEIL: What?
PATRICK: You just said she had to do her own work. What work?
NEIL: You’re still thinking she’s ‘just a techy’?
PATRICK: Obviously she’s not just a techy; techies are frighteningly powerful, plus she has scary special powers.
NEIL: Why are you so threatened by a woman with independent thought?
PATRICK: Because: look what she did to my tablet!
NEIL: Heinous. On’y it’s hilarious.
PATRICK: By the way, didn’t you want me to meet some woman?
NEIL: Oh, seriously? What’s this – seven hours later? We finally come full circle.
PATRICK: Yeh, that was why I came to see you in the first place, because my email was all clogged up so I couldn’t get the details but I knew I needed to speak to you about something, someone you thought, I don’t know, you thought I could work with? I was whinging about my email, you said you’d had the same, blah blah, then you pointed me at this bint under the table all tangled with cables.
NEIL: You are incredibly easily misdirected, do you ken that?
PATRICK: How?
NEIL: Thought I’d kill two burds wi’ one stone, or kill one stooge twice wi’ the same burd, as it turned out. Hello? Aye, there it is.
PATRICK: The… Medusa! She’s let me hang myself with the massive loophole of my assumptions!
NEIL: I think she let you embroider it a guid bit first.
PATRICK: Ah, shite. I need… I need… I need to get my head… When’s she here next?
NEIL: Dinnae ken.
PATRICK: I don’t mean to the minute. Tomorrow?
NEIL: There’s nae plan for her to come back. Thinking about it, I dinnae ken why she would come back, seeing as her day was totally hijacked by technical distractions and arsey demands.
PATRICK: She was only here today? I need to make reparations! I don’t know who she is, what she does, where she might be…
NEIL: I wouldnae worry; she certainly has your number.
PATRICK: Yeh, massively wide berth.
SOUND: TAP, TAP, GLINGLE
NEIL: Inbox, pillock.
PATRICK: Oh, right, good; I can’t wait for her to torment me some more.
NEIL: Och, wheesht your havering. If you really pissed her aff she could’ve totally scorched you.
PATRICK: (LAUGHS SARCASTICALLY) Yeh, I feel so comforted about all the stuff she could’ve done that I’ve just not discovered yet.
SOUND: TAP, TAP, GLINGLE
PATRICK (CONT’D): Will you give that a rest?
NEIL: I like the comforting glow of your specialness.
PATRICK: All your fault.
NEIL: Let’s just sit here a wee while, in the dark.
PATRICK: Why?
NEIL: For the metaphor.

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