I don’t need to switch on my PC to know that the absolute bare minimum required has been done with my work. My desk has already cast me adrift by burying me in three weeks worth of paperwork. I wouldn’t even mind so much if it was left for me to be filed as opposed to being fucked on my desk. Days overlap each other as files are mercilessly pulled apart and thrown together to form one unrelenting uni-pile. The filing alone on this is going to take at least an hour.
Yellow post-its flood my desk along with crude short hand notepad messages, and the ones that are actually legible mean nothing or are outdated. “Call me, M”, “Sep file?”, “Kenya not updated” are just some of the many hieroglyphics.
I turn on my PC and try to login but predictably my password has expired, and when I ring IT to request a new one they too are predictably unavailable. Christ I’m not even in five minutes yet and already I feel like I’ve never left. Determined not to let it ruin my day I begin organizing and filing as much paper work as I can.
When I finally get through I catch a break in that Darragh answers the phone and resets my password. A review of my inbox confirms I’ve 982 unread emails and before I can check any of them a pop up calendar informs me I have a meeting with Hilary from HR at 9.30. This can’t be good-Hilary’s the director of HR and never dirties her hands with the banal day to day. I immediately search for her correspondence and the first thing that strikes me is it’s dated from about a week and a half ago.

Anthony,

I urgently require your attendance upon your return. I have booked the large boardroom for 9.00 and we can address the matter then.
Regards,
Hilary


I accept the meeting request and instantly begin trawling through my email for further clues. Could someone not find important documents or had I somehow breached client confidentiality by an accidental forward? Fuck maybe they’re cracking down on joke emails again. Upon joining I remember hearing that a college student got sacked because an email he sent-of a girl being fisted by a baseball bat-ended up with the top brass of AIB. Granted some of the emails I send around are borderline risqué but are still a million miles away from hardcore pornography. Although I know Merrill Lynch fired a whole load of people for an unrelated work email recently, and with the markets in such dire straights companies are on the lookout for any excuse. I rack my brain for anything else they could have on me and the only thing I know they can pin on me is email. What else could they possibly have on me work wise? I don’t even bother to entertain the notion of Evelyn or Roseanne because neither one can realistically hang me without hanging themselves. A couple of weeks ago I might have panicked but before I left Roseanne and I seemed to have an unspoken truce. Even if that night did come to light it still doesn’t explain Hilary. Yes our actions were unprofessional but they’re really more likely to be frowned upon as opposed to acted on. It’s also near impossible to prove, and if all parties deny involvement then nothing can be done.
A couple of things spring to mind but I can’t see how they can be proved either. It can’t be my time on the projects team because again Martin is hardly going to shop himself. Yes I advised the guys I was supervising-back when I was on Evelyn’s team-to be creative on the overtime but at the end of the day I was the only one who signed off on it. So again why the hell would someone shop themselves especially when they’re benefitting from it? Things were at an all-time low, team members were sick daily from stress, and as a result anyone who did come in had to work 55 hour weeks, mostly without lunches. All I told them to do was include the lunch breaks they were missing and to round up to the hour if they worked past the forty-minute mark when submitting their overtime.
I slowly continue churning through my “grey areas” until it finally hits me-the stats. I certainly can’t deny my culpability for this one. From the second I took them over from John I was entrenched in deceit. Under his watchful eye I honed my skills in manipulation and deception to continue his legacy but in truth there was no other way. On any given day forty odd pricing slots (a group of fund numbers) are run, manually priced, validated, and checked. If you catch a break and you’re lucky a slot will have fewer than ten prices to correct, if you’re unlucky you could easily get 80 plus. In theory every single slot a supervisor checks has to be uploaded onto a central spreadsheet with the following details; Date, slot deadline, time received, total prices, total prices manually entered, days the prices are stale (anytime a price doesn’t change for a period greater than six days), the person who handed up the slot, the person who corrected the slot, and if
the slot was handed up late a brief explanation why. To fill in the required information honestly would take a supervisor around the 10-15 minute mark, and dishonestly probably half the time. The first slot deadline is 8.00 and runs straight through to 17.30. If supervisor capacity is full it stands at four, but for the majority of my time there it was usually just the two of us, or two good supervisors and one lazy dud. So in theory on full quota a supervisor can expect to do around twelve slots each meaning a bare minimum of-in at the very least-a 120 minutes spent every day just on updating stats. On many occasions when things weren’t so favourable I did 30 plus slots in a day which is 300 minutes. The single most important thing in the whole department is to get things out on time or as close to as possible. In reality though you have at least three slots in front of you at any one time and to stop after every one you do to enter the relevant information is suicide. Most supervisors tend to plough through their workload first and worry about the stats later, but having finally corrected your last slot before six(assuming everything goes to plan) you’re then left with two hours worth of internal bureaucracy to contend with. This of course assuming you leave all other issues aside like the two internal query inboxes, your own inbox, problems with disgruntled staff under your supervision, and the million and one other petty head fucks that arise throughout the course of each day. In short clean stats are impossible, and for most of the guys even dirty stats are too much leg work. My job was not only to ensure all statistical integrity but to make sure that every single slot was accounted for-all two hundred plus. If a certain slot statistic was missing it was my job to query the administrator, find out who they gave it to correct, and then bust his balls for not updating it. If they didn’t update them in a timely manner it is then my job to rat them out. When John was showing me the ropes he didn’t really do either. He generally spent his time nagging the supervisors throughout the day to get them to do it, and when they didn’t or still missed some he’d end up entering them anyway. I never understood why John did this as not only did it waste precious time it also pissed off his already under pressure fellow supervisors. John was always the epitome of mental and physical fatigue and as a result was dubbed “stresshead” behind his back whenever he was in, and “sniffles” when he wasn’t. His coping skills never seemed to develop past that of a teenager, and as a result tended to act out when things didn’t go his way. If something fucked up he’d either smoulder at his desk in silent rage with the anger manifesting itself through his raw red face and bulging purple veins, or by spewing a visceral tirade of epic proportions at whatever abstract or tangible thing that fucked him over in the first place. For the most part John was a really great guy, and I was delighted for him when he finally decided to go off travelling, but he had a serious penchant for self pity. If something went wrong and he had to stay back late his attitude would be “well fuck it I’m going to be stuck here all night”, which meant when the stats report was due it would be quite common to find him in the office after eleven. A constant victim, John had a tendency to reel in the injustice of a problem rather than apply himself into fixing it. For me the stats caused enough problems without looking to create more. After John’s departure I simply left the supervisors alone and got on with the task in hand-where there was a blank, I filled it. Since the stats were all predicated on a lie anyway it didn’t matter to me who filled them in as long as they got filled. It wasn’t rocket science. If a stat was missing I simply copied the previous available one, altering it slightly, however this would merely be the beginning.
After every stat is in the central system each individual slot has to be totaled and entered in a separate spreadsheet, which when finished is reviewed at board level on a weekly basis. In general anything between twenty and forty slots will miss their deadline of which usually just five would make it on to the report. For the best part, a missed deadline will only ever make it onto the board report as long as someone else is to blame. So if the vendor sends in prices late, IT never fixed a Bloomberg terminal, or someone from another dept fucked up something they’ll be slain in ink. If someone even as much as throws you a funny eye and distracts you from work they go down too.
Manipulating the board report is a whole entire task to itself as you’re not just manipulating stats for each week individually-they’re all tied in from the beginning of the year meaning consistency is king. If you slack on the stats and ignore the greater picture you’re fucked. It takes nothing more than a simple click to have the statistics broken down into percentages so if one week suddenly skyrockets it’ll be immediately flagged, and Evelyn will demand to know exactly what the hell happened. The same goes for a low week. If it was a particularly hectic week and you show only two missed deadlines Evelyn will question why this week’s so low when we were actually quieter the previous week. The catch 22’s arising from board reports are as complex as they are unrelenting. A pro for appeasing Evelyn is immediately combated with a con when pleading for more staff is met on deaf ears.
“Why would we possibly need more staff? The board reports show we’re doing just fine as we are” is a typical response played out on loop.
When I left the department the stats were entrusted in Ludo’s safe hands and having trained him myself he definitely knows the score. Fuck, that bastard probably went on another gaydar rampage meaning the new guy got landed with the stats and hung us all out to try. I run around to Ludo for confirmation and begin to panic when he’s not at his desk until I realize it’s 8.40. Fuck there’s no way I’ll get to speak to him before my meeting now.
“Alright Thompson.” I hear the familiar catcall from Lawson as the entrance door behind me swings open.
“What’s the craic?” I say exchanging hand slaps.
“Good to see you. So how was Portugal? Many sluts?”
“It was savage Damo although I feel like I need another holiday after it. Any craic here?”
“Nah nothing much,” he says briefly pausing “oh wait I can’t believe I nearly forgot-the phantom menace struck again.”
“Where’d she pebble dash now?”
Damian briefly looks over his shoulder before responding, his face a caricature of excitement.
“Proper hardcore! A couple of weeks ago Gaz heard a scream from the ladies again so we knew something was up, but it wasn’t until the email from HR went around that we found out what really happened.”
“There was another email from HR?”
“There most certainly was and it was pure gold. Hilary actually sent it around and it was all about “keeping intimate personal belongings at home”, “abiding by company health and safety codes”, and “interpersonal hygiene”.
“Interpersonal hygiene?”
“You’ve got to check it out the mail’s a work of art.”
“So what happened?”
Well apparently a small green vibrator was found in one of the sinks.”
Haha now I know you’re winding me up.”
“That’s not even the best part-some guy down in legal called James Carroll.”
Wait Sheephead?”
“What?”
“Sorry continue.”
“Anyway this James Carroll in legal got the sack.”
“What the fuck was James Carroll doing with a green vibrator in the women’s?”
Haha will you just shut up and listen. Anyway this James guy forwarded HR’s email changing the subject title to “get a load of this dirty bitch” and well basically the email became something of a cult classic, but unfortunately for him ended up with one of the AIE head honchos in London.”
“Ouch.”
“I know. The email really did get out of control though even my mates were mailing asking about it.”
“Heather so hard up for it now that she has to resort to knocking one off in the jacks?”
“You’re a bad fucker,” but again he can’t help himself from laughing at the notion.
“Have you been speaking to Ludo at all? It’s just I have a meeting with HR shortly and I need to find out if he knows anything about it.”
“Nah I haven’t seen him much at all the past two weeks to be honest. I think he might have been out sick for a bit.”
“Okay. Well I better rock n’ roll Damo because I’ve a few things I need to tie up before my meeting so I’ll catch you later.”
“Cool you can fill me in on the rest of your holiday at lunch.”
I return to my desk where I’m met with, “So you finally decided to come rejoin us then” by Donal. “I guess I can cancel the search party.”
“I wouldn’t do that yet Donal as they’ll probably have to pull me out from the sea of paperwork you left on my desk at some stage.”
Take that you sarcy prick.
“So no presents?”
“Yeah I brought you back a stick of rock but I had to throw it to the sharks to fend them off. Have you seen Roseanne yet?” Donal then proceeds to look under his desk before informing me that “she’s not here”.
Well will you tell her when she comes in that I’m down in a meeting with HR.?”
“So how was your holiday?”
“I had a great time thanks.”
“Right, okay Anthony I’m not going to beat about the bush here. I want to know your side to this whole FX deal fiasco.”
Sorry Hilary I’ve no idea what you’re talking about?”
“Hasn’t Roseanne briefed you?”
“No Roseanne isn’t in yet.”
“Very well then while you were away it came to our attention that a FX deal you acted on was incorrectly processed resulting in a 584,000 loss for the company.”
“I’ve never done an FX deal in my life.”
Why am I actually pleading? I haven’t done anything wrong. Right then Hilary counteracts my statement by sliding acros a sheet of paper, which-to my horror-has my signature at the bottom.
“Care to explain this Anthony? “
I stare blankly at the sheet devoid of words but not of fear. Written in front of me in unmistakable scribbled child like handwriting is my signature. Not a forgery-my signature.
Well Anthony?”
“I never did this transaction?”
“Are you telling me somebody forged your signature Anthony?”
“No that is my signature alright but I never did that FX deal. Roseanne asked me to sign off on it for audit purposes.”
“But why would you sign off on something you had nothing to do with?”
Because I wanted to go on holiday. Because outside of the walls of the HR office forgery is an accepted and integral part of everyday life in funds. Which incriminating line do I hang myself with first?
“I didn’t want to be seen to be questioning Roseanne’s judgement. If she required my signature on something then I’m sure she had her valid reasons.”
I watch as her pen scribbles furiously, aware every single word is being captured.
“You didn’t think it particularly strange that she might require your signature?”
“No, I’d already applied my signature to various other documents for audit purposes that week so it didn’t seem out of the ordinary.”
Well Anthony haven spoken to Roseanne at great lengths I can tell you there are huge discrepancies to what you’ve just told me now. So you’re telling me you’ve never once entered an FX deal?”
“I wouldn’t even know how to.”
“So are you calling Roseanne a liar?”
I know the pen is dying for this one.
No but what I am saying is I’ve told the absolute truth. Maybe Roseanne got her wires crossed.”
“Well for your sake I very much hope that they become uncrossed, because I’m going to be very frank with you here Anthony-heads will roll over this one.”
“I fully understand. So what happens next?”
“Due to the amounts involved and seriousness of the situation a preliminary disciplinary committee has been set up for tomorrow.”
“Hold on a disciplinary committee? But I just said I had nothing to do with it.”
“Yes Anthony but your signature very much suggests otherwise. Senior management needs this issue resolved as soon as possible, and as you were out of the country for three weeks…”
I immediately cut her short, “Hold on I was on holiday”.
“Nevertheless two weeks have lapsed since it was originally escalated to our attention and we need to act swiftly. Present at the meeting tomorrow will be Roseanne, Claire, and I.”
“What time?”
“Four o’ clock tomorrow afternoon and I’ll send you on an email shortly with all the relevant details.”
Oh so you’re back? I thought you might have gone on another three week holiday.”
On a normal day dealing with this hick-who was spawned in the shallow end of the genetic gene pool-is trying, but today it’s impossible. There’s nothing more I’d love to do now than rip his pongy father of the year socks from off his feet, and force feed them down his throat, before smashing his deformed mongoloid face into the framed photo of his fat cunt wife.
Donal are you having a laugh?” I say after a quick scan around my desk confirms that nothing has been done.
He pauses, frowns, and deliberates intently before delivering his response. “What do you mean?”
Keep trying me motherfucker I dare you. I catch a glimpse of the picture and I could swear his wife is winking at me, egging me on.
“What do I mean? Donal I’ve been gone over an hour now and none of my work has been started yet? How the fuck am I meant to meet my deadlines?”
“What am I a mind reader?”
Evidently not because if you knew what was going through my head now you’d shut the fuck up.
“I told you I had a meeting with HR, but I’m guessing cop on isn’t your strongest suit. Heaven forbid you use common sense.”
Come on Donal fuel my fire.
“Have we a problem Anthony?” She says and the very fact she predictably chose my name shows her allegiance. I suddenly feel like I’m surrounded in the oke coral. Do I shoot first, and ask questions later?
“No Roseanne. It’s just I’m already miles behind because I thought Donal would cover for me this morning. I had a meeting with HR first thing,” I say heavily emphasising the meeting-my way of letting her know the war is well and truly underway.
“And what’s this got to do with Donal?”
“Well as I had informed him of the meeting I assumed he would cover my work when he realized I was away from my desk for so long.”
“Assumed? So you didn’t ask him?”
I take this opportunity to stare her down. I am Iron Mike. I will eat her children if medical science ever grants the dyke a reprieve.
“No.”
“So what is Donal meant to be some kind of mind reader?” which is met by Donal’s sniggering approval.
“Evidently not.”
“Well instead of worrying about what wasn’t done I think you should be more focused on the task in hand.”
“Fine,” I say not taking my eyes off her, letting the hate linger, until she backs down and returns to her desk.


I miss deadline after deadline to the delight of Roseanne. The dominos continue to flirt with me. Anytime I’m just a mere finger touch away from stopping one it tantalisingly shakes, before falling over on its back prolonging its path of destruction. Despite no breakfast or lunch I’ve already missed fourteen payments, meaning fourteen late receipt of payment claims, with the buck squarely stopping with me. When chasing a director for a signature on a missed deadline everything is black and white. Either you make the deadline or you don’t. Meetings with HR or the death of a loved one are irrelevant and will be shot down with contempt if ever brought to the table. Most of them can’t even hide their disgust long to even humour me with “so how was your holiday?”
Today I’m everyone’s stressball. It’s as if I’m the pantomime villain of a football match-the one who induces visceral hatred from the home crowd.
“This is totally unacceptable”, “what the hell is going on?” and “you’re not on holiday now”, are just some of the many choruses that rain down on me. Roseanne also seizes the opportunity telling me on countless occasions how well the department ran without me throughout the day. I bite my tongue when I think of how there’s over five hundred thousand of the company’s money to suggest otherwise.
“Did you do something different with your hair today Roseanne?”
“No, I don’t think so Ludo.”
Well it looks great.”
“Thanks.”
I’ve got to give him his dues. Not only does his manage to rile and provoke me, but keeps Roseanne sweet at the same time.
“Hey slut, glad to see the prodigal son has finally returned.”
“Oh Roseanne did you do something different with your hair,” I say mimicking Ludovico. “The cunt probably doesn’t even have a hair brush.”
“So what’s up? Lawson said you were looking for me?”
“I can’t really talk about it here,” I say rolling my eyes in Roseanne’s direction.
Oh I see. Well how was the holiday anyway slut? Bring me back anything?”
“Actually I did but then I realized you already had it.”
“Had what?”
“The clap,” which he belatedly laughs at.
“So did I miss anything while I was away?”
Well I bought another pair of CK sunglasses, and had a look at some houses in Castleknock.”
“I meant in here? And anyways you earn the same as me dud-you’ll never be able to afford Castleknock.”
“Yes but my family love me, and didn’t flee the country to escape me. My dad said he’ll put up the deposit.”
“Haha very nice.”
“Nah you didn’t miss much here. I’m guessing you saw the mail about the phantom menace striking again?”
“Anthony whenever you’re ready there’s the little matter of deadlines to be met. I don’t want you crying wolf when you miss another one later,” Roseanne says cutting in.
“Meow…well I better leave you to it.”
Okay I’ll catch up with you later Ludo.”


Any restored vitality from my holiday is well and truly diminished. Since I arrived in after twelve I’ve been working on my defense for tomorrow, and three hours later all the fruits of my labour have managed is two pages of flimsy bullet points, a half-eaten pizza slice, and an aborted wank due to fatigue. I know if I don’t get my act together Roseanne is going to eat me alive yet half the time I don’t even realise I’m staring into space. It’s only when the screen begins to melt in front of my eyes under an imaginary heat wave that my concentration is broken. But what was I thinking anyway? By the time I figure it out it’s either redundant or I forget it instantaneously. I struggle to form fully developed thoughts, and even stuff I typed two minutes ago is alien to me. What does that mean? It’s as if I’m teasing myself for an answer? But what the hell is the question?
I continue to bash keys, randomly holding down random letters for long periods of time hoping to somehow coax some untapped genius. I follow each letter as it roams recklessly and yet perfectly calculated across the screen, losing myself in its hypnotic wonder.
Gggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg…Jesus Christ what the hell am I doing? I slap myself in the face, the severity of which startles me more than the pain. Come on Tony got to get the A game going.
I put on LL Cool J’s “Mama said knock you out” which is just the “fuck you anthem” I need to inspire me. “I’m gonna knock you out. Mama said knock you out” booms from the speakers helping me to what must be my 18th second wind of today. I feel invincible and valuable words begin to trickle across the screen until it gets to the stage were I don’t even notice that I’m typing….kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk. Okay time for bed.

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From the beginning.

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