Lattes, Lunch and Lay-offs | Sean Crawley

For The Trilogy Award: Pt 2

“I don’t know any of these people.”
– Bruzzone, A. 2016

Lattes, Lunch and Lay-offs

By Sean Crawley

The Trilogy Award Part 2 

Part 1: Birdsong, Breakfast & Bilousness

“Would you like a coffee? The boss is shouting,” asks Bettina, PA to the Director.

“A large latte, two sugars, please,” I reply. “That’s nice of Debbie,” I lie. The boss doesn’t want anyone going out for lunch, that is obvious.

Do lattes have more milk, therefore more of a meal than say a flat white or cappuccino?

“Do you want lite or skim milk, maybe even soy or almond?” Bettina is not mocking, she’s serious.

“Nice of you to ask, Bettina.” But this is my lunch, air-head! “Full cream milk, please.”

You have to stay on Bettina’s good side or else you could easily be the next sucker laid off. Every week someone goes. You can listen to the bullshit reasons for that particular person’s job becoming redundant. Or, you can open your eyes to see it’s simply Debbie and/or Bettina deciding who’s in and who’s out.

Hasn’t anyone noticed that the staff numbers haven’t actually dropped?

For every lay-off a new person is employed. A new person who the new boss has scrutinised with Myer Briggs and Emotional Intelligence tests. I swear she’s employing people who are highly impressionable yet have thick skins. I know that sounds at odds, but think about it: if someone believes bullshit but doesn’t get offended when you tear strips off them in a public display of humiliation – bunged on to keep the masses in line – aren’t they the perfect employee for a tyrant?

Gino said to me once, “This new boss is all micro-management and blame.”

I saw Gino the other day. He was washing cars at the lot just around the corner. It was a day when I, and almost everyone else, managed to get some real air and food; Director Debbie was in Perth for a conference.

“How’s things going, Gino?” I asked my sudded-up ex-workmate.

“Fucking brilliant, man. Getting laid-off was the best thing ever. I highly recommend it.”

When I got back with my falafel kebab to eat at my desk I noticed Bettina writing down a list of those who had left for lunch. I noticed that the inner circle of courtesans and sycophants didn’t escape that day Debbie did Perth. They stayed put like good little boys and girls, making sure they didn’t make Bettina’s list.

I feel sick on the stomach. My life is hell. There are seven times twenty four, what’s that, one hundred and sixty eight hours in a week. It’s only fifty at work but my whole life is tainted with nausea, fear, hyper-vigilance, and dread. I’m drinking too much again.

When Debbie got back from Perth, Nancy was dismissed. She was the top of Bettina’s list not only because she went out that lunch break and got a Brazilian – why oh why did you tell Bettina that, Nancy? – but because Nancy is a looker. She’s such a looker that when the big big boss of the company comes down from his office two floors up, he looks straight past the flirtations of Debbie and Bettina, not horror shows themselves, and drools over Nancy’s legs, and arse, and breasts, and neckline, her lips and those fucking amazing doughy bedroom eyes. Sayonara, Nancy!

I drank the boss’s very kind Latte and ducked out to the tea room to make a coffee with three heaped tablespoons of International Roast. I couldn’t take it any more. I couldn’t stop thinking about Gino and his bucket of water, and the sun, and the smile on his dial. I couldn’t help thinking about Bettina’s list and how I likely moved up it when she noticed my broken shoe lace earlier.

If I had control over one thing at all in my life it could be to strike first and get sacked before they lay me off.

I walk straight past Bettina’s desk and into Debbie’s office. That alone is a sackable offence.

“I demand a full lunch break everyday and I refuse to wear that bullshit, undersized, corporate, polyester shirt on Fridays.”

Despite the instant coffee shakes, I haven’t felt this good for a long, long while.