The days go past like hours. Breakfast is nothing more than a concept and I haven’t had lunch away from my desk in weeks. I look like shit. My face is taut and pale and I’m a spotty mess-every time one break out seems to clear another sprouts up in its place. Some of them are so big that when I pick them I’m left scarred for a week. I hate talking to people now because when I speak to them they only converse with my spots, eyes never leaving my pebbled dashed sores. It’s got to the stage were I find myself talking with my hand over my face or conversing at strange angles to obscure my blemished skin.
I feel like shit all the time. My stomach is in tatters, and every day seems to bring a new headache, influenza, cold, sinus blockage, or throat infection. It’s now at the stage where I have to take double doses of each painkiller to feel anything. I swallow Nurofen like vitamins. I haven’t slept in weeks because of my obsession with work-it’s all I think about. Every waking moment is spent antagonising over mistakes I may have made in the office earlier that day, further playing into Roseanne’s hand. I lay awake analysing her barbed comments trying to figure out what she has lined up next, or restlessly shuffling from side to side planning my own pre-emptive strikes. Imagining every possible scenario in my head I meticulously map out what I’d do, down to how I’d even say it. My head never gives itself peace, and no matter how tired or burnt out I am I can’t escape myself.
Generally, I get around four hours sleep, leaving me in a zombie state. I spend most of what little spare time I have confined to the sanctuary of the couch as the slightest exertion has me totally wiped out. Even having a wank has become an epic chore. I sometimes trawl the net for hours debasing myself over porn in an attempt to inject some life into my manhood.
I’ve been getting home so late recently that I have to choose between food and a wank because I don’t have the time or energy for both.
Today is Thursday. The only reason I know this is because our bonus figures are released today and it’s all everyone’s been talking about. Everyone around me has already spent their imaginary pay cheque and regurgitated their intentions at nausea. Mary’s buying that pair of red Jimmy Shoe’s she always wanted. Joanne’s planning on putting it towards a car (although judging on her input for the year it’d want to be a 1976 Lada), and Jen’s just splurging on everything in sight. Even Donal’s an unlikely participant and is throwing whatever he gets into a high-interest savings account. Whatever money I get is going into getting the fuck out of this place, maybe the States or Thailand for a year. I’m sick of Ireland. Every day it further descends into nothing more than a mass homogenised conurbation deprived of a national identity. Dublin could be any other city across Europe now, anything that was quintessential Dublin was stomped to death by greed many years ago. I remember growing up on a council estate as a child and having nothing, but I wasn’t any different to anyone else because we all had nothing. There was a real strong sense of community spirit, people knocked in regularly for tea bags, milk, or sugar, and exchanged dinners. Every day I saw potatoes handed over the walls for chicken or burgers for fish fingers…these days knocking into a neighbour for milk would be on a par with panhandling. Since the money came in everyone looks after number one-no more neighbourhood watch, or summer projects just 42” inch plasma TV screens and faceless broadband. Back in the day if you were in any trouble people would give you their last fiver without you even having to ask for it. There were no conditions or terms and agreements just a simple “pay me back whenever”. Now if you were gasping for air people wouldn’t give you oxygen unless you had your credit card with you. We’re no longer Irish-we’re consumers. Fuck Ireland we’ve become I-land; a nation of one. Our Nationality is so diluted that every football fan dons a Liverpool, Man Utd, or Arsenal jersey while our own clubs are on the brink of extinction. The only time people seem to remember they’re Irish is when they’re on holiday throwing out quaint clichés, “Póg Mo Thóin,” or moaning about how “Guinness doesn’t travel abroad”. Yeah everyone’s Irish when they’re away; when they’re chatting up English birds saying, “turty tree and a turd” till the cows come home, or when a U2 song comes on and everyone wants a piece of plastic national pride. We’re a piece of fuckin’ white pudding in a fry up away from being fully English.
If last year’s bonus is anything to go by I should come out with at least 10k minimum, which should be more than enough to get me out of Ireland for a while. It’s not as if I have any other options because I’m nothing more than “Nigga rich”. Yes I can afford the latest Nike runners, PS3’s, DVD players, designer clothing, and 150 quid benders to beat the band, but nothing of real substance. A two-bed shack in Ballymum costs a quarter of a million meaning at least a 20k deposit, and I’m still repaying a twenty grand loan I took out for my mam to help with the bar. The only other option is to get a gaff down in a satellite town (most of them you’d need a satellite just to locate them) at a slightly cheaper price. Those Ikea homes are a disaster. You live in an estate with 5,000 other people in identical homes with the same two foot by two-foot gardens. I’ll also have to get a car because I’ll be so far away from civilisation that I might as well be down the country. I’ll leave the house before 7.00 am and the way things are going lately-not return till midnight. The worst part is I’ll be stuck in funds for the next 30 years repaying a mortgage for a house I don’t even want.
I applied for an American visa on the off chance I might get one but I’m not holding my breath. Thailand is definitely looking the most viable option as ten grand will get me far enough out there.
The floor’s a real hive of activity from 10.00am onwards as the first bonus news filters out onto the floor. I try to put the hysteria to one side and continue on with my work, which is already backed up because the pricing feed didn’t feed through again. Jen is the first one to mail and she came out with a cool 7k. Ludovico is the next to break the news but comes over in person to deliver the message.
“Well Tony how’d you get on this morning?”
“I haven’t been told yet Ludo. How’d you fair?” I say eager to know because we’re both on the same level.
His eyes light up meaning he must have had a big result because all he cares about is money.
“Well, very well,” he proceeds to write down the figure on a piece of paper-10,384.
Fuckin’ hell and he wasn’t even in for most of the working year.
“So do you reckon that’ll be enough for Brown Thomas to close the store for you so you don’t have to shop with the common folk?”
“Please Anthony, Brown Thomas is nowhere near prestigious enough for one of my affluent splurges. Me thinks I shall be heading to Harrods for some proper retail therapy.”
“Faberge eggs for all?”
“Exactly, so how come you haven’t barged right over to Rosie O’ Donnell and demanded your bonus?”
“Some of us have a little thing called work to do-speaking of which I’m really swamped mate and need to get the head down.”
“Okay but drinks later? Champagne of course.”
“Yeah sure assuming I get out of here at a reasonable hour,” and with that Ludovico leaves and continues his “bonus world tour” traipsing from desk to desk letting everyone know how fabulously minted he now is.
I lose myself in my work in a vain attempt to keep my head above water and only notice when one of my macros breaks that it’s actually 17:07. I know the others definitely received their bonus news because Donal came back to his desk and chuckled like Mr. Bean for twenty minutes in a sad attempt to get me to ask him why he’s laughing so he could reveal his financial source of merriment. I purposely avoided asking the question and he kept on laughing until his own PC crashed sabotaging his mood.
I can’t take the suspense anymore and make my way over to Roseanne’s desk.
“Hi Roseanne, have you got a few minutes?” As soon as I finish my sentence she sticks up her finger motioning me to wait a minute and continues to stare at her computer screen.
“What is now? I thought Joanne fixed the macros?” She says.
“It’s not actually about that Roseanne I was wondering if you have an update for me on the bonus situation?”
“Yes I do, but I don’t have time to go through it with you now. I’ll try book a meeting room for tomorrow and we can discuss it then.”
I’m about to reply and demand that I want to know immediately and that everyone else has already been informed, but she interjects before I have the chance.
“Well, is there something else? I would have assumed you have more than enough work to be doing yourself?”
I turn and walk away afraid that if I open my mouth I won’t be able to close it again.
I finish off my work as quick as possible and head straight home. The last thing I need is Ludovico flaunting his wealth in my face like P. Diddy, and the thoughts of engaging in social masturbation, while everyone’s high off their new cash injection, is too much.
It’s 11:00 when Roseanne’s email finally hits my inbox confirming our meeting will take place this afternoon at 15:00 in room 1.1. I hate meeting room 1.1 as the windows and door are made from glass. It faces directly out onto the elevator, and the nosey passing herds. It’s only really meant for people making private calls off the floor. I’m guessing by her choice of room that the news isn’t good and that she’s planning on using the room’s lack of privacy in order to mute my response.
I’m deep in thought when Ludovico interrupts me although I notice him by his stench before he even opens his mouth.
“What happened to you last night slut?” He says.
“Jesus Ludo you fuckin’ reek. What were you drinking? Gasoline?”
“It’s called the smell of success Anthony. So what happened to you last night bitch? Decide to blow all your money on hookers instead?”
“What money? I still haven’t found out what I got yet. Roseanne’s playing hard to get.”
“Well, I suppose there’s a first time for everything…”
“I don’t find out the damage till this afternoon. Any craic from last night?”
“Same old-Christina cried, the Fuse had half of Bolivia under his nose and possibly Heather under him by the end of the night. Oh, and Frank and that Ozzie nearly came to blows over some Rugby argument.”
“Sounds interesting.”
“Yeah well, the proper party is in D2 tonight so you better be there. Right, this is all too much for me I need to get some breakfast soakage. I’ll see you later.” As he’s walking away I pull an old Lynx can out of my drawer and throw it at him hitting his back.
He picks it up and examines it. “I’d rather smell like a pissed up wino than wear the deodorant of a twelve-year-old pikey.”
The day painstakingly drags by until the meeting. I haven’t had a concept of time in weeks but I watch the desktop clock’s every move and arrive at the meeting bang on 15:00. I’m delighted she’s not on time as it gives me the opportunity to strike first blood-I pick the chair with my back against the wall flipping the spotlight on to her. Roseanne keeps me waiting at least fifteen minutes and doesn’t apologize for her tardiness. I can tell she’s pissed off by my choice of seating as she looks like she’s trying to explode me with her mind.
“Right Anthony I’ll make this quick. Your bonus for the year is 1,248.”
“Are you fuckin’ kidding me?” I say my mouth on auto-pilot still reeling from the shock.
“It’s probably unprofessional responses like that which helped determine that figure.”
“Roseanne 1,248 would barely even cover a month’s overtime since I’ve been in your department.”
“Yes well, that’s because you’re clearly nowhere near up to scratch yet.”
Someone’s going to have to mop up under her seat after she leaves because she’s that dripping wet with pleasure.
“Roseanne I hardly think that comment is remotely fair considering I had one weeks training, and that the systems are on the blink every other minute.”
“Sonya never seemed to have any problem with them.”
“Sonya’s worked here for over five years, never took her full lunch, and still had to come in early every morning to get the job done.”
“Anthony I’m not the only one who had input on your bonus as you’ve only been with me a few months; Evelyn was also involved in the process. Surely everyone can’t be wrong about you?”
“This has nothing to do about my performance in work Roseanne. This is all because you couldn’t keep your busy hands to yourself.”
I can tell by the look of panic and fear on her face that she wasn’t expecting that response. She immediately scans outside the meeting room to see if anyone could have heard me.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about Anthony.”
“Really? Well maybe I should have a chat with HR and see if they can shed any light on the subject?” “Oh you mean that night out. The night when you sexually harassed your boss until I physically restrained you. That night?
“What!? That never happened.”
“Really? That’s not what two senior management figures have to say. I’ve spoken to Evelyn on the matter and she’s quite clear on what happened.
“Fuck you that’ll never stand up.”
“Well, I suppose I could forget about the whole night and put it down to youthful exuberance and intoxication on your part. But that all really depends on how you want to play it.”
By now my adrenaline is shot and my autopilot responses cease to function. I simply sit there punch drunk trying to absorb the whole situation.
“I can see you have a lot to think about so I’ll leave you to it,” she says.
She gets up to leave and opens the door.
“Sorry, Anthony I almost forgot-thank you for all your hard work,” and exits the room.
I sit there dazed for a few more minutes trying to work out all the possible permutations before giving up and returning to my desk.
I can’t focus on anything else for the rest of the day and as a result, my work is sloppy meaning it’s not until after 21:00 that I finish up.
I’m desperate for some relief so decide to take Ludo up on his offer and follow him up to D2. I stop off at the local Spar first and stock up on a naggin of vodka. After today there’s no way I’m turning up there sober. I walk up the quays until I find a bench where I can skull back my vodka. At first, every mouthful burns my throat but by the end it loses its edge and is reduced to a mere tingle. I throw my empty bottle at the Jeannie Johnston taking great pleasure in watching it smash all over the ship’s side.
By the time I arrive to D2 everyone is already twisted after a good solid four-hour shift. I head straight to the bar, before making my arrival known, and get two shots of JD and a pint. I down the two JD shots, and go straight over to the area AIE have reserved where thankfully Damo is the first person I meet.
“THOMP-SON glad you could make it,” he says. The first thing I notice is the vast array of empty wine and champagne bottles that have taken over the majority of the tables.
“Alright Damo, good night?”
“Yeah not bad kid. Not a…” before he has a chance to finish Ludovico jumps in between us kissing me on both cheeks.
“Tow-neee you finally made it-the next case of champagne is on you.”
“Case? You’d be doing well to get a six-pack of Dutch gold out of my bonus. I came out with little over a grand.”
“Shuuuuut up you tight bastard.”
“I’m serious Ludo, but that wasn’t even the best bit.”
I take a huge gulp out of my pint and leave him hanging.
“C’mon Tow-nee don’t be such a prick tease…”
“Well basically after I complained about my bonus she told me go and swivel on it, so I threatened her with HR.” Ludovico’s face lights up at this nugget and he begins clapping like a seal while Damo casually observes.
“And then what?” Ludo asks.
“She told me that if I went anywhere near HR that she’d tell them that I sexually harassed Evelyn.”
“What?” Damo says nearly spitting out his pint.
“Yep, she said that she’ll say she saw me sexually harass Evelyn that night in Messers, and that Evelyn will back her up.”
The two of them look at each other before cracking up laughing.
“I’m serious lads.”
They both eye me up waiting to see a tell-tale sign that isn’t present.
“Sorry kid I thought this was another phantom menace. So what are you going to do?”
“Get fucked up and worry about it tomorrow.”

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