It started with Jim hiding my stapler and ended with me dangling him out of a 6th floor window by his ankles.
Jim was really popular when he started at Thompsons. New employees often take a while to warm up in our industry, but he was make coffees, chasing down leads and offering his opinion on everything within the first week. He joined us in the Mariner after work that first Friday, our usual haunt after a hard week.
“Budge up Kev,” he said, forcing a chair between me and Ceri. I’d been working my way up to ask her out for a few weeks and this was the closest I’d been, so I wasn’t best pleased. I moved and he slid into the circle, angling his chair facing towards Ceri and his back to me.
After the weekend, I found he had moved desks to the one facing mine. “Much better view, Kev” he said, winking at me and nodding his head towards Ceri who sat to my left. She was on a call, but I saw her cheeks flush, but whether with delight or embarrassment I wasn’t sure. “And I’m overlooking the river too.”
And it all went downhill from there.
Tuesday, I discovered my stapler had been hidden in the bottom of the bin. I spent 15 minutes looking for it before asking to use Ceri’s, and only discovered it when I kicked my bin in frustration. Jim made that noise of trying-not-to-laugh-and-sounding-like-a-snort as I fished it out and returned it to my desk.
Wednesday, I found my files had been rearranged from alphabetical-according-to-the-alphabet to alphabetical-according-to-the-middle-letter of the road the head office was on.
Thursday, the lids of my markers pens were all swapped about. It might not sound like much, but the whole system for automatic reordering in the South-West region is based on using the right shade and thickness of pen for the right product and frequency of reorder. Friday’s regular order of 3 boxes for Samson’s came perilously close to being rolled over into fortnightly.
I knew that on Friday Jim had a meeting on-site first thing, so I came in early and taped the phone receiver to its base, winding 15 layers of tape round for safety. Then Jim came in with Gareth from Area, who wanted to make a call to confirm sales targets. Jim handed him his mobile and said “Use this whilst I just free this up,” then proceeded to unwind my tape, muttering about saving it for fingerprinting.
I arrived at the pub to see Jim already cosying up to Ceri, touching her knee as he told her jokes to which she laughed politely. I left without ordering, feeling a head coming on.
Monday was quiet but Tuesday was stapler day again. This week I arrived to find it set into a raspberry jelly. Apparently the idea came from a tv show, although that time it was a lime jelly. I’m not sure the colour is the point really. Any jelly will surely hasten breakdown of the often temperamental joints of a stapler?
That evening I locked my drawers and took all my marker pens home, just to be safe.
When I arrived this morning, nobody greeted me with their normal “Hello Kev.” I stopped saying good morning myself after the fourth person seemed to urgently remember something they had to find in their drawers. I arrived at our desks and saw most of Jim’s possessions covered in sticky tape, joined together or stuck to the desk itself. Even his chair was covered, long strips wrapped from arm rest to arm rest so the seat was unusable.
I could see Jim in the boss’s office, the pair of them talking, conspiratorial, looking over at me then back to each other and back to me. Ceri refused to meet my eye but looked really cross. Jim headed for me and she hurried towards him, placing a concerned hand on his arm.
“Mr Thompson said would you go in his office for a word, Kevin.” He wasn’t so matey now, using my Sunday name. Then I saw the picture window overlooking the view of the river he’d liked so much.
So in just over 2 weeks, like I said, staplers to dangling him out of the window. And I’m starting to lose my grip.