Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Hanging By A Thread 

I could tell that something was different. The engineer’s office was empty. Not just “I must be the first one in” empty, there was more to it than that, or less, if you get my point. Something was missing, wrong, not at all right.
I wandered into Neil my team leader’s office, and it was completely bare.
Where were the pie charts that he’d so carefully coloured in? And what about the framed photos of him with Mickey Mouse and Goofy? The bunting round the window frame; the banjo by the filing cabinet; the Slipknot outfit on the hanger behind the door: all gone. Just six sad blobs of blu-tack on the wall where his gigantic “You don’t have to be mad to work here but it helps” poster used to be. It was eerie.

“Bloody hell,” I said to the abandoned room, “I turn my back for five minutes and they sack the poor sod.”
“Not sacked,” Neil whispered into my ear, “just moving downstairs to manage the Help Desk.”
“Jesus! You scared the shit out of me!”
He dangled on the end of a rope suspended from the ceiling, a bit like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible. He was wearing a deer stalker’s outfit, puffing on a pipe and wearing a monocle, or would have been wearing a monocle if it weren’t swinging in the air beneath him. He resembled one of those mobiles you’d hang in a nursery if you wanted to encourage in your babies an early interest in Sherlock Holmes.
“I say,” he said, “you couldn’t lend a chap a hand, could you? I appear to be stuck.”

“It won’t be the same without you, boss,” I gasped after ten minutes of belting him with the cricket bat I’d found in his wardrobe.
When he eventually came crashing down to the floor, bringing half the ceiling with him in a vast white cloud, looking like a suicide flour bomber, he merely said “Marvellous Tim! If there’s anything else you need, you know where to find me. Pip pip!” and toddled off to look for the stairs.

I stood catching my breath for a few minutes, surveying the damage. Then I said good morning to Mike and Terry as they took off their jackets and switched on their PCs, shook the plaster out of my hair, dusted myself down a bit and wandered off to make us all a brew.

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