“Spare any change, Sir?” Asked the hoarse voice of Homeless John as Dom came within earshot. Homeless John was, as you might expect, a homeless man that frequented the hundred yard stretch of Sovereign Street between the bus stop where John would alight each morning and his work building. Because of this, he was pretty well known amongst Dom and his colleagues.
“Sorry mate”, Dom replied sympathetically, as he had pretty much every morning for the last two years. Dom wasn’t against giving Homeless John money. He knew he wasn’t an addict or anything that’d blow all his takings on heroine. Dom just practically never had any change to give. He didn’t see the point in this day and age, when you can use contactless cards pretty much everywhere. He’d suggested to Homeless John that he invest in a contactless card reader about a year ago, but received a blank stare in reply, so had quickly dropped the idea. He sometimes bought Homeless John a drink or something to eat when he asked, but he was barely ever able to give him change.
Dom estimated that his heart was beating at twice its usual rate as he stepped through the revolving door of the “Computer Guys!” building. He walked past reception, through the foyer, held his lanyard to the sensor to get past the metal barrier and pressed the lifts’ call button. He pressed it just the once as he was in no rush to get up to the second floor and see Graham.
The man was pure evil, Dom thought as he stepped into the lift. Graham had stared at him in the pub the day before for just long enough to make sure that Dom saw him see him, but then turned around and started laughing and joking with his cohorts, acting as if nothing had happened. Dom pressed the small circular button emblazoned with the number two. But that was why he was so certain that Graham was pure evil. He’d obviously wanted Dom to stew on this all through the previous afternoon, evening, night and now this morning too. He’d obviously wanted him to imagine all of the possible consequences that could result from having been caught partaking in a crafty lunchtime pint when he was meant to be ill.
Dom had considered quitting on the spot. He’d imagined it over and over since yesterday: He would’ve marched over to Graham, who would’ve looked so shocked as he watched his plan to rattle Dom backfire and Dom would’ve said: “Graham, I quit. Fuck your job. Give it to this lad here.” He would’ve gestured to Neil at this point. “He needs it. He’s desperate. But I am so sick of your shit. I’m fed up of that depressing hole we all pile into every day, getting shouted at down the phone just because we work for such a ridiculous little joke of a company. And what do you do to earn your wage? Sit on your arse down the pub, laughing with your little friends over the fact that you made Sabrina cry again, you pathetic little wanker.”
It would’ve felt good. Very good. Dom especially liked the bit at the end about Sabrina. He didn’t really give a shit about Sabrina and didn’t know her at all, but Graham did shout at her until she cried on quite a regular basis because of, as far as Dom could tell, her tendency to be a decent person and help the customers who phoned up instead of pushing them towards the sales team, so it seemed like good ammunition. But Dom had chickened out. He’d bottled it. He’d supped up, told Neil that he had to go for some non-specific reason and they’d swapped numbers. Then he’d walked right out of the pub and spent the rest of the day imagining all the things he would’ve said to Graham if he’d had the balls.
Graham did indeed bring Dom straight into a meeting room upon his arrival on the second floor and subjected him to one of his patented red-faced, one-sided screaming matches. Dom just tuned out though. He’d figured out that this type of employee discipline gets less and less effective as you get less and less invested in the job that you’re actually doing and Dom was currently about as uninvested as an employee could be.
In appearance, Graham reminded Dom of Doctor Phil from one of those American TV shows. He was middle aged, practically bald but clung desperately to the little hair he did have around the back and sides of his head, which seemed to cling to him just as desperately. He even had the little greying moustache. Dom had to stop himself from thinking about this comparison while he was receiving such a earful, as if he let the thought enter his mind he was in very real danger of interrupting Graham’s shouting with a fit of uncontrollable giggles.
Once Graham gave the telltale sign of wrapping up his rant, Dom knew he was in the clear. Each and every time he had a member of the team in here he would sigh, run his fingers through an imaginary head of hair, then place both hands on the table in front of him and lean forwards towards you. “Just sort it out.” He’d say quietly, then he’d wait for you to start heading for the door before adding, for no discernible reason, “Go get ‘em, Tiger.”
The first time Dom heard him say this, he’d thought it was a joke. He’d turned and laughed, thinking Graham was lightening the mood with a quick joke to raise his spirits before heading back to work. The look on Graham’s face that time had said it all though: Surprise, confusion with a hint of anger. For this reason, his nickname among the team, when his back was turned of course, was Mary Jane.
Dom checked his phone after leaving the meeting room to see that he’d received a text from Neil, saying to let him know the next time he fancies a pint. Dom raised his eyebrows. Today could have started a lot worse.