“Did you see the telly program last night?”
Idiot groans silently and wishes for another call to come through. Quickly.
“Oh my god! The man, when he said the words! I couldn’t stop laughing!”
“Oh, I know! How awful for the girl though, when she did that thing, and the thing happened… how embarrassing…”
“Aw, yeah, the state of her thing after the thing was thinging…”
Half past four on a Thursday afternoon, Idiot checks his phone one more time – perhaps it’s on hold – no. Pity. To Idiot’s right, there’s a short, youngish girl with tightly pulled back hair, applying make-up into a small handheld mirror. Emma. She says something loudly back into the group of chatter behind. It comes out like a lawnmower, ‘RAA RAA RAA RAA!’ and gets lost in the whoops and cackles.
A hand pushes Idiot’s shoulder. Twice. It’s Mike, a tall, pale Scottish feller with a tiny head.
”What about you, eh? You see it last night?”
He’s only trying to be nice.
“Sorry, no, ‘fraid not.”
“Ach, man, it was facking hilarious, the girl she had these huge…” Or something.
Idiot raises his eyebrows, smiles, shrugs and says “heh” at all the right places, until Mike says something about ‘getting one for my car’, and turns back to the group. Not before slapping Idiot on the back. Idiot closes his eyes and breathes.
A quick check of the stats-board says that there have been 63 calls today. Now between 14 people, if you have the time to work it out, which you will, means that on average you will have received 4 and a half calls. In 6 hours. With each call lasting no more than 5 minutes. Idiot picks up his red biro and gets back to work on ‘Seven Stages of Man’, a scientific diagram, depicting a tall man growing ever twisted and decrepit with each step, culminating in a lonely, limbless torso lying naked on the floor, straining helplessly up towards a ringing phone. Idiot smiles each time he reaches this point in the drawing. Today, however, to mix it up a little, the torso is on some bathroom tiles, teeth pulling at a towel hanging from a door handle. It must be getting close to 5 o’clock now. And then only an hour.
From across the room comes a gargled call for Idiot to come for ‘a word’.
Michelle. Team Leader. A humourless oaf. One which qualifies each sentence with a ‘just kidding’, and a lower jaw so wide and aggressive you feel like you need to jump at it and strap it down, just to say that you have – and then perhaps put on a baseball cap and have your picture taken with it.
Idiot looks up and Michelle gives a smile that involves too much of the nose than a smile should.
“Now, we really like the emails you send to the customers, we really love them, we do. They’re really personable and funny and helpful… and really in the ‘kooky’ spirit of the company, y’know? But perhaps we should maybe stick to the templates now?”
”Right” says Idiot, and waits a few seconds for Michelle to continue or elaborate. Nothing.
“Ah, sorry, did I go over the top on that one about the thermostat?”
“No, no, of course not, we’ve really enjoyed your emails, they’re really personable and funny and helpful… and y’know…. Sometimes we just feel that making things clear and simple usually works best. That sound ok?”
“Can I borrow your pen for a moment?”
”I said, are you ok with that?”
”Sure, can I just borrow your –“
Idiot stands suddenly, lifting his desk, and in one movement lets out a sort of squeak and attempts to throw the desk at Michelle. The contents scatter and the desk barely tips over, but it makes enough of a racket for the room to turn around and Emma to try and grab Idiot’s arm.
“What the he –“
Idiot twists and shakes free of Emma’s grip, and with his left hand takes a hole-puncher and swings it blindly at Emma’s head. Not satisfied with it just glancing her brow, Idiot swings again and this time – bam! – breaks her nose. From behind, Mike grabs Idiot and lifts him off his feet, but not wanting to miss his chance, Idiot takes one last kick at Emma and misses by inches. Not to worry, blood is already pouring from her crooked nose, all over her stupid stripy shirt. Legs in the air, Idiot gets a footing on a desk edge and launches himself backwards, sending he and Mike into a grey filing cabinet. The sharp steel corner finds a place in Mike’s spine and sends him straight to the carpet. People are running from the room now, crying and frantically piling out into the corridor. Idiot spots Michelle almost at the door. She looks back just in time to see Idiot throw a stapler at her head. The stapler – unfortunately – misses, but instead smashes into the frame of the door spraying staples into her face and eyes. Michelle lurches through the door screaming and coughing, clawing at her bloody face and stumbles to her knees.
The sky is beginning to darken into browns and purples and there’s a few spots of rain coming down now. Idiot sucks some cold air into his lungs and holds it for a few seconds. There’s no one around, just piles of golden brown leaves whispering their way up the side of the bus stop. The wind plays with Idiot’s hair and pulls his eyes towards a small single-deck bus turning on to the road. Idiot pulls his mobile phone from his bag and begins writing a text. ‘Finished early today honey, home soon. I love u x’. The bus pulls in and Idiot climbs onboard, says hello to the driver, and smiles.