The marketing meeting will take place in Conference Room C. Darren will be hosting, which he likes very much and he can barely contain the little wriggle of his excitement. He’s looking forward to unravelling his strategy to the rest of the team and has been polishing his 68-slide PowerPoint presentation for the past 4 months. He’s looking forward to using the word “hone”, a sharp word for a young, sharp mind. He’s looking forward to a solid hour of talking at his colleagues, explaining to all how important it is for the numbers to go up and people to look at their website. This is quite revolutionary, really. He would have preferred a 2-hour meeting to really get into a more granular pitch but Tom has booked the conference room at 10.
Jennie doesn’t like Tuesdays. A nothingy day she thinks. You don’t get the enjoyment of getting the first day of the week out of the way and it’s not hump day yet. And there’s always, back-to-back, long, tedious meetings. And Jerry from the sales team works from home on Tuesday which means she has to fork out for her own donuts. Yes, Tuesday is the armpit of the week. Another 5.22 hours. She’s tired. Her eyes ache from clock-watching, her rear aches from sitting and her hand from finger pointing. Why do people keep on blaming her? It’s not her fault things don’t get done on time. They have unrealistic expectations, really. She has to defend herself and get others to share the blame. That’s what they do in the Apprentice, isn’t it? She’s going to try to shave a few minutes off. A couple of long tea breaks, a slow walk to the donut place maybe.
Tania doesn’t give a shit about the fucking meetings. God she hates this job. And her colleagues. She’s renamed them in her head, as if it would help. Bossy, Lazy and Dummy. If she didn’t have to sustain a pretty sizeable cocaine addiction, she wouldn’t bother. But she can’t afford not to work. And she has to pay child support as well. That whole baby business really sucked. Why would they be so hard on her when Courtney Love got away with it? Such an unfair system. Such a lovely baby too, from what she remembers of him. Round cheeks, podgy little hands grabbing her finger with surprising strength. And now she has to pay for the child she hasn’t seen in 7 years, the bills, the tinned mushroom soup, the coke and her online poker account. By the 3rd of the month, it’s all gone and she has to sit here, put up with them all, their meetings, their donuts, their big words and the horrible air con in Conference Room C.
Tom can’t concentrate during Darren’s presentation as he’s worried about his own meeting. As the team charity representative, he is in charge of organising events that will bring goodness to the world all the while raising the profile of the company. This year he has organised a “race for famine”. Thought you don’t race for famine, you race against it, Darren had pointed out, unfortunately after the newsletter had been sent but thankfully before the t-shirts had been printed. Tom got a pretty good deal on the t-shirts. Probably stitched by underpaid, under-aged children but it’s hard to motivate oneself to spend more than a few quid when you know they’ll end up in a landfill a couple of weeks after the event. Yes, a great deal. He’s also ordered 600 plastic bottles to be distributed at the event and got a great deal too. People mentioned they would have preferred paper cups and he’d agreed but the deal on the bottles was better. Yes, it’s plastic but it’s not like they do this everyday right? A drop in the ocean really. He might not mention those though. Tania might bite his head off. She’s pretty green for a junkie. Yes. Concentrate on the do-gooding. We’re a community, we’re uniting for one cause. For the hungry children of Somalia. Was it Somalia? Ethiopia? The place with the skinny children with the big heads. Might be worth being general. Just say Africa. Just say Africa, don’t mention the plastic, or the blunder in the newsletter. Make a big fuss about how much exposure this will give the company. Don’t mention no-one has signed up for the race yet. There’s still a couple of weeks. Maybe promise a goodie bag to all that enter? Or treats? People love goodie bags and treats. Jennie would be there in no time if there were freebies.
Or drop the fee? Have a late bird entry fee? Less money for Africa but does he have a choice? Those kids will probably die anyway. But if he fails to secure places, his sponsor, funkyfunerals.com will drop him. Oh gosh. They’re going to rip him to shreds in there. His throat gets very dry. He needs water. He pops out discretely.
The Conference Room C has been made musty by the previous meeting. Darren, Jennie and Tania wait in the awkward silence of those who don’t like one another and have given up altogether being cordial. Darren is rehydrating. Jennie is eating an egg-mayonnaise sandwich, its smell spreading additional discomfort. Tania is tapping her foot with increased aggravation wondering where the idiot has gone and why he isn’t able to keep to timelines, that dumbass.
The text message comes in and they all lift their phones, discovering the brief message in unison: “Not feeling well, went home, meeting cancelled. Tom”
B F Jones is French and lives in the UK with her husband, 3 children and cat. She works as a web consultant. She has stories published in The Cabinet of Heed, Idle Ink, Bending Genres, Soft Cartel, Storgy, The Fiction Pool and Spelk.