An omelette, a fungus, a mouthful of biscuits and a stripper.
Dan W.Griffin FOR AWARDS CONSIDERATION PURPOSES ONLY. (Ha, Ha, Ha!) www.nostrangertothep45.com
Copyright ÂŠ Dan W.Griffin ALL RIGHTS RESERVED The rights of Dan W.Griffin to be identified as the Author of this Work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 Downloading of this file is subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be reproduced, stored in an alternative retrieval system, transmitted elsewhere or otherwise circulated in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the author. This document is for single machine viewing purposes only.
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Welcome to Danland Thanks for downloading this excerpt from my book, No stranger to the P45. This is the complete ‘An omelette, a fungus, a mouthful of biscuits and a stripper’, a piece describing a job in a telesales office. I hope that you enjoy it and I’d be delighted if you’d like to make a comment via the website. Thanks again and have a fantastic day. Dan W.Griffin
For all intents and purposes, the events and characters depicted in this work are mostly fictitious. Any similarities to individuals, living or dead, or any organisation currently trading is purely coincidental.
When I’m asked what I do for a living my mostcommon response is to stare blankly back and then change the subject. If I fail to think of a new one I’ll simply mumble something incomprehensible and hope for the best. More often than not, that’ll be the end of the conversation. But there was an occasion not so long ago when I was asked what I did and managed to respond without splurting-out a mouthful of imaginary biscuits. I was talking to a girl. And a not-altogether unattractive one at that. Lisa and I had already exchanged names and I’d replied to her question about my line of work with a barely-comprehensible mumble. ‘I’m a struggling writer with high hopes of one day actually finishing a book’ I told her. ‘Oh.’ She replied. As the conversation moved onward it soon became my turn to ask the same of her. I figured it a polite way to continue - considering the circumstances and all that and so I asked, ‘And you? What line of work are you in?’ It was then that things went a bit wrong.
Smiling pleasantly she replied, ‘I own a recruitment business in Bath.’ Oh. Within the machinery of my mind rusty cogs of nonsense began to turn like the innards of a clock: slowly grinding and squealing like a cat dragged downwards against a ten-foot wall of slate. Chains rattled and clanged as pulleys took-up the slack of inch-thick ropes frayed without mercy by the passage of time. In the midst of his busy nibbling a rat was suddenly catapulted skyward, emitting a startled ‘EEK!’ as the ropes became taut and launched him into space. Like strings on a bow each twanged still, shedding the dust of a year’s worth of ill-executed hopes and dreams; snow-like flakes cloaking my character with its misplaced self-confidence, temporarily obscuring each of its gaping flaws as if an Amazonian tribesman was setting a trap with some leaves and a twig. Way-off in the distance a rainbow of tiny lights danced into existence as a console whined into life. A machine stuttered and coughed and a lifetime of garbled foolishness puffed out into the air. For no discernable reason a strange-looking contraption buzzed and whirred and spat thirty metres of tickertape across the floor. Things beeped. Something crunched. Page 2
A sack of piffle fell to earth with a thump. At the same time, caged in their impregnable iron fortress a million flames ripped and snarled, their furious hunger for freedom all too familiar to the hunger of an angry caterpillar on a cabbage. Water bubbled and steam shrieked through klaxons and a whistle as a mechanical monkey pinged a cymbal with a stick. Ribbons fluttered in the air like the flailing arms of an elderly, wheelchairbound man groping at the thong of a stripper. Right then I imagined my eyes rolling awkwardly in their sockets as sparks leapt outwards from my ears and ignited the carpet. For some reason I wanted to wave my arms in the air and yell, ‘Boogie, boogie, boogie!’ But I didn’t. ‘Really? How nice!’ I said instead. And decided that now was a good time to smile and feign interest. ‘[Blah, blah, blah, blah]’ I said (this being a particularly loose transcription of my feigning interest in Lisa’s recruitment business). ‘?’ ‘It’s called [a name I can’t remember]’ she explained. ‘I have an office in the centre of town.’ Oh.
Perhaps at this point my eyes did indeed roll around in Page 3
their sockets indicating some level of confusion because she then clarified the location of her business by telling me the building in which it was based. Under normal circumstances this would have thrown me further into some sort of jelly-type bemusement, but these weren’t normal circumstances. After all, she hadn’t yet looked upon me with utter contempt, complete indifference, or made even the most plausible of excuses to get away. As I processed the name of the building in my head a minute spore of the familiarity fungus landed upon the compost heap of my conscious. It quickly grew larger and larger until moments later and it was ready for me to pick and then rustle-up into an omelette. ‘I know the place!’ I said. ‘Isn’t there a company called Box Office Publications there too?’ Lisa’s smile grew wider as she confirmed, ‘Yes, it’s on the top floor. I’m on the one below. Do you know the company, then?’ As it was, clearly I did. ‘Yup. I used to work there’ I began. ‘It was a few years ago when it was based in Trowbridge, though. I wasn’t there for very long and so I don’t recall too much about it. Although I do remember one of the directors... some woman by the name of Sally Something-or-other. She was a complete and utter bitch.’ ‘She’s my mother.’ ‘Ah.’ Page 4
Box Office Publications was a publishing and telesales company initially based in Trowbridge, a town a few miles from Frome and a bit like a post-apocalyptic industrial estate. It published a variety of magazines on behalf of companies such as First Leisure, the nightclub giant, which would then install them as in-house magazines at each of their venues. The magazines would feature a minute amount of editorial consisting mostly of inane nonsense about someone slightly in the public eye or, equally tediously, a review of a movie that’d already been out for six months. Its only real point of interest were the two or three-page spreads of photographs taken during the previous month in that particular venue. These would, more often than not, feature pencil-necked morons in Ben Sherman shirts sticking their tongues out at the camera while making V-signs having just thrown eight pints of lager down their throats. Some of the photos would feature personable young ladies, too, frequently slurping alcopops through straws and undoubtedly not far off accompanying the aforementioned Ben Shermans’ down the nearest backstreet for what probably wouldn’t be a few moments of intellectual conversation. Apart from that, each magazine would feature a vast amount of local advertising that few, if any of the punters of the particular venue would ever pay any attention to. This was usually because they were Page 5
far too hammered and, to be fair, probably wouldn’t be in the slightest bit interested even if they weren’t. I got a job selling this advertising thinking that - just maybe - I had a career ahead of me in advertising. I was, once more, quite wrong about that. Over the years I’ve gotten to realise that telesales exists as a vocation for one reason and one reason alone: because the product or service is just too shit or too expensive to sell itself. Because of this, getting a job in telesales is never hard. Staff turnovers are always particularly high because the job is ridiculously difficult (and by that I don’t mean Krypton Factor or Royal Marines difficult, I mean just… stupid-difficult, if you can imagine that). And because of the job being stupiddifficult competition for posts is practically unheard of. This is because so many people try it and in a very short space of time decide, ‘Fuck this, I’d rather be flipping burgers.’ Having previously tried flipping burgers and caused eleven grand’s worth of damage I decided to give it a go. I shouldn’t have bothered. I was provided with a desk, a telephone and a copy of the Yellow Pages and was then urged to prepare myself a sales pitch. Armed with this I was then to begin phoning all those businesses I believed would be gullible enough to be suckered into wasting their advertising budgets. I grabbed a copy of the previous month’s magazine for the Page 6
area I was given (which was, I think, Manchester), and figuring that rebooking previous punters might be an almost sensible place to begin I set about dialling numbers. I was wrong about that, too, and spent the best part of the remainder of the day being told in no uncertain terms that the magazine was not really as effective-a-medium as the previous sales person had led them to believe and ‘Thank-you, but please don’t call again… ever.’ Nearing the end of the day I was all-but convinced that Tourette’s syndrome was sweeping the nation. I’d just dialled what felt like the millionth number and had gotten through to what was probably some camo-clad SAS wannabe at the TA (the Territorial Army). I wasn’t even halfway through my pitch when the man at the other end of the phone said simply ‘Yes, we’ll rebook. Thanks very much.’ And then hung up. An immense sense of relief washed over me. I’d got one! Perhaps this wasn’t the most ridiculous of vocations after all. I proudly filled out my order form and handed it to my manager who then congratulated me on my sale. Shortly after that and one of the company directors (I think) entered the room to act superior all over the place and ask how everyone was doing. Her name was Sally and she had a face that could curdle snow. After spending a few moments speaking with some of Page 7
my colleagues she walked over to my desk and asked how I was getting on. I was pleased with myself because of my sale. ‘Good, thanks’ I answered. ‘I’ve been getting acquainted with my pitch and I’ve just made my first sale: a rebook from the TA.’ ‘Great. Well done. How was it?’ ‘Um. Rather easy actually. They just said “yes”.’ ‘What d’you mean ‘easy’?’ ‘Well, I didn’t even give them my full pitch. They said “yes” almost as soon as I’d told them where I was calling from.’ ‘There’s no such thing as an ‘easy’ sale.’ ‘Um…’ ‘Nothing is ‘easy’ in this business.’ ‘Er, I know. It’s been really tough all day but the TA was just… simple.’ ‘Don’t bother coming back tomorrow. You’re fired.’ ‘?’ I sat for a moment or so looking around at my colleagues, each of whom sat at their desks, some clearly quite bemused on my behalf. Another soul destroyed: her work done for the day, Sally immediately turned on her hooves and left the room to return to her office, the acrid stench of her perfume (Eau de mustard gas, I think) lingering in the air as if someone had just emptied a bin of week-old kitchen Page 8
waste out onto the floor. I looked across at my manager and raised my eyes in a question that needed no words: What the fuck just happened? In what I soon became convinced was her reply she shrugged her shoulders and gave me the kind of smile a bad parent of an uncontrollable toddler may give if the kid walks into your living room and finds it funny taking a dump on your carpet. I resolved to deal with my firing head-on and a minute later was barrelling along the corridor heading towards Sally’s office. On the way I contemplated my strategy: Option One: bite my tongue, apologise for whatever I’d said or done wrong without bothering to figure it out, and simply ask her to rethink my dismissal. Option Two: blast the bitch out of her seat with a choice selection of the most imaginative expletives I’d heard throughout the day from any number of Mancunian publicans and hairdressers. I chose Option One. And so, the next day I was back. This time I was given, perhaps just a little inexplicably, a different copy of the Yellow Pages; a new target area for my barrage of calls. Who’d’ve thunk it but the area I was given this time was Sunderland, my old stomping ground. I was actually quite optimistic about that. Now, one thing I didn’t realise was that for quality control and staff training purposes, or rather employee Page 9
regimentation and subservience, Box Office Publications monitored and recorded all calls made by its telesales staff. I began dialling (and receiving the same level of imaginative expletives as I had the previous day), at first all the places that I knew in Sunderland, which were, to be fair, mostly pubs that I’d frequented some two years and more previously. After about an hour I reached an advert in the Yellow Pages for a pub that was particularly familiar to me. Although right now I can’t remember the name of it, it was an Irish bar and I spoke to a very pleasant girl by the name of Helen. She was in an infectiously good-humoured mood and I forgot my sales pitch entirely. Helen had been working at the pub only a few months although she had lived around the corner from it for much longer and so she knew it well. As we chatted I reminisced about one of, if not the last time I was ever there: a night during which I’d discovered the delights of Guinness with Tia Maria. I’d gotten completely battered that night and had awoken the next morning in the recovery position on my floor, and with a vague recollection of having left my jacket behind the bar. I thought she was nuts when a moment later she said, ‘Hold on, I’ll check whether it’s still here.’ Now, this jacket wasn’t anything special ‘else I Page 10
would’ve returned to collect it. Besides, it was over two years ago when I’d left it so there was little chance that it would’ve been kept unless as a cleaning rag. Seconds later Helen returned. missing?’ she asked.
‘Is it navy blue with a button
‘Um, that’ll be the one.’ I replied, with understated surprise. ‘Are you going to come and pick it up?’ Just then I glanced over to my manager’s desk where she sat looking absolutely furious and motioning for me to hang up the phone and go over to see her immediately. I finished the call rather swiftly and walked over to her desk. There she told me that I’d been on the same call for almost a half-hour (our calls were supposed to last about five minutes) and considering that I hadn’t even made one single attempt to pitch an advert I was, for the second time in as many days, fired. I never did get my jacket.
There is no chance that this will ever be a
SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
No stranger to the P45 by
Dan W.Griffin ‘It’s not shit - it’s Art!’ - Marvellous Malcolm ‘Buy this book! (or else)’ - Andy McNab, Author Bravo Two Zero ‘Dan, you should be in prison’ - Mrs H.Downing
WARNING Contains strong language, bloody violence and scenes of a sexual nature FOR AWARDS CONSIDERATION PURPOSES ONLY. (Ha, Ha, Ha!) www.nostrangertothep45.com
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