Colleen was in that now familiar half world, TV buzzing away in the background, phone in hand like a childs comforter, heart racing ten to the dozen along with her troubled thoughts…
Earlier she had attended a meeting with her former area manager, she did not want to go, she considered him tricky and unscrupulous and didn’t trust him as far as she could throw him. He gave off an air of an Italian Godfather with his expensively sharp suits and wolf-like smile.
She had told herself beforehand that he would not dictate this meeting, if you could call it that!
Presumably out of consideration for her panic attacks, he had suggested meeting somewhere other than the workplace and at the last-minute he’d texted her to meet at the local Starbucks that, surprise surprise! was HIS usual haunt!
She just wanted to reiterate her resignation, and request her P45 so went along with this unusual request despite her better judgement.
Being half term the place was unusually busy and they’d had to shout to make themselves heard above the hum of customers.
He’d introduced her to his note taker, a quiet unassuming looking man busying himself with a lap top, and ordered the coffees, whilst Colleen got out her note-book and pen then sorted through all the paper work that she had received and sent.
“So”, he began pompously “We received your resignation letter dated blah blah, but you are still employed by us”.
Colleen “I don’t think so!”.
Godfather “Yes, you are technically”.
Colleen ‘ “Technically?, am I getting paid for the last two weeks then?”.
Godfather “No, but you are sick so you are still on our books…”.
Colleen “But I timed my resignation for the end of my sick note and haven’t been into work since! also there were no shifts on the rota for me too have missed”.
The unassuming note taker would need nimble fingers to keep up with this rapid fire exchange, She thought.
All too soon it was made apparent why the Godfather didn’t want to accept her resignation just yet… he’d wanted to show her the large ream of correspondence from the company solicitors and to assure Colleen that she hadn’t been assaulted because it wasn’t on CCTV!, also to make her aware of her assailants counter grievance against her.
“But” exclaimed Colleen indignantly “The date on his letter is after my resignation!”
Colleen let him ramble on with his threats a little bit more whilst taking a gulp of her rapidly cooling latte, feeling more than a little stitched up.
He had an annoying habit of emphasising (or perhaps in hindsight, distracting from) his points with a tap tap of his pen.
Then he asked her a question about her responsibilities at work and … she just went blank …
She knew the job inside out, she’d been doing it for years but the thoughts let alone the words would not come…
“Well,” he persisted sensing a weakness “can you tell me what your responsibilities are? You’ve signed legal paperwork to say you know them!” tap tap on the table with his pen.
Colleen now clutching her head in distress at the fuzziness inside it, took the only option she could see available to her.
“SHUT UP! I can’t think straight, I am still sick you know,” she’d hissed, not wanting to encourage further curious glances from the nearby tables.
He at least had the decency to look shamefaced, noted Colleen, but not for long, he was on a roll.
On and on, ON AND ON, see if you can make her CRY.
Then, Colleen did something she’d never imagined herself doing in a million years, not even when she’d had her dry run scenarios and pep talk conversations (first in the mirror, then later practised on Mcfee).
She’d retrieved her paperwork and her note-book and pen, still seated and with a wry smile on her face she’d calmly and slowly placed them back into her bag, perched barrier like on the the chair next to her.
The Godfathers intimidation slowed a little, distracted as he was by her actions, then she rose, taking them both in with a sweeping gaze, and as if she was taking her leave of a couple of dearly missed acquaintances, thanked them for the coffee before enquiring if there was anything to sign?
They’d both uttered a hasty “NO!” (in stereo it seemed) and off she’d stalked, out the door, into the street, needing badly to put distance between herself and the toxic atmosphere she’d just endured, head held high and clarity somewhat restored.
Much later on with Mcfee deposited safely at work and darkness fallen over the city like a hanging gloomy cloud, she’d sat alone mulling it over and over and over…
Yes, she had to admit it’d felt gratifying standing up to the transparent attempt by the Godfather to scare the crap out of her, probably in order to avoid any future tribunal claim. The irony was she hadn’t even put one in! She’d just wanted rid of the job.
But the reality still was, no job, no P45 and no magic way to feel better about any of it.