One damn thing after another …


from Debs:

“Really? Really? And you thought that would be a good idea because …?” Melanie’s voice was increasing in volume and pitch. If this argument went on much longer, Adam feared for his eardrums. Luckily, there came the sound of a door slamming and the rapid click clack of high heels crossing the hallway at high speed. Melanie stopped at her desk, grabbing a packet of fags out of her handbag, said “later” to Robert when he foolishly attempted to speak to her before storming out.

Adam decided this was a good time to pop out for a sandwich where he passed Melanie furiously smoking by the back door. Raising a hand in greeting, he kept walking. On his return, he showed Melanie a box containing her favourite danish pastry and simply asked “coffee?” Stamping out her cigarette, Melanie followed him into the kitchen. Handing Melanie coffee, made just the way she liked it – black, one sugar – Adam put danish pastries on a couple of plates and sat down. Sipping his own coffee – milk, no sugar – he waited. “That bastard sent Angus in to close the deal with the Swedes. Unsurprisingly his racist misogynist comments meant that they decided to go with our competitors. I had them ready to sign.” I waited, knowing there’d be more. “Alastair’s such a dick, he just can’t help favouring one of his idiot mates. I’ve told him that’s the last time he’s to let one of the scottish mafia muscle in on one of my deals.” I raised my eyebrows at her only to get the ripose: “I’m his top salesperson – by miles – and I reminded him of that fact.”

The office went back to its normal hum of the phones being worked, with the odd bits of printers whirring out proposals. I figured Alastair had learned his lesson. Until Friday that is, quarter end, the day when sales figures get tallied for commission payments. Melanie had gone out to pick up the papers which her latest prospect told her had been signed. She’d not been gone long when Jen, the sales administrator’s phone rang. I picked it up to Melanie asking for Alastair, in what could only be described as tight, polite tones. I put her straight through, then walked down the corridor, ostensibly to make tea. It put me next door to Alastair’s office and I could hear him stuttering out some form of defence. I think the scottish mafia may have struck again.

Next morning, Melanie walked in with two take-away coffees, a couple of pastries and headed to he kitchen. I took the hint and joined her. “He did it again” she spat out, “only this time he sent Bruce in to pick up the contract and allowed him to claim the sale for himself.” “Can he do that?” I enquired, only to be told in no uncertain terms that Melanie had put forward a formal complaint via the HR Department and Alastair’s boss. Walking back to my desk, I pondered who was going to come out the winner in this battle of the big hitters. There was no doubt that Melanie was in the right, but that scottish mafia was pretty damn powerful.

Whilst the complaint was working it’s way through the formal steps, things went back to that everyday hum. Melanie’s next few deals went through without interference. The office grapevine churned out the progress of her complaint and it became clear that Melanie was not going to accept a polite knuckle rap for Alastair and/or the scottish mafia, together with the return of her usurped commission. She wanted Alastair’s head on a plate. The gossip mainly centred around whether she was brave and principled, or foolish and vindictive.

As I left the office, my mobile rang. “Adam?” asked the familiar tones of my grandmother, “will you come for dinner tonight?” I accepted with alacrity, for my grandparents had an excellent cook and wine cellar. I dressed for dinner – formally – in my best dress kilt. Dinner was up to its usual high standard, but it was not until we retired to my grandfather’s study with a couple of brandies that I was asked: “So, this young lady who wants us to remove Alastair – what’s your view Adam?” I answered honestly “She’s in the right. She’s a good salesperson, her technical skills and knowledge outstrips any of the team which is almost certainly one of the reasons she’s so good. But she’s also professional and principled, so all client encounters are free from laddishness, vulgarity and off-colour jokes.” “Hmmm” said my grandfather thoughtfully as I continued: “I think the firm should have more like her and less of the scottish mafia. She’s the future and they should be the past.”

First thing Monday, Alastair summoned Melanie into his office. I could hear Melanie’s voice rising in pitch so, when a client called, I persuaded Jen to interrupt Alastair whilst I texted Melanie. When she finally left Alastair’s office, Melanie’s face was flushed a bright shade of red, but they’d been no sound of raised voices. I asked Melanie to look over a proposal of mine and we spent the morning in quiet discussion. At midday, I suggested “lunch?” and we wandered down the road to the pub. Alastair had clearly been pushing Melanie’s buttons hard and she admitted being close to handing in her notice.

As we walked back, I spotted my grandfather’s chauffeur in the car park. Inside we found my grandfather chatting away amiably to Jen. But, all around the office, various members of the scottish mafia were packing up their desks, each of them with a member of senior management checking every item that went into their boxes. It had – indeed – been one damned thing after another … but this time, they’d gone too far.

[981 words]


© Debra Carey, 2017



From David

Do you know how long it is since I’ve had a lie in? No? Me neither. I can’t remember the last time I had an honest-to-goodness lie in. You know, the kind where you don’t even bother to set the alarm, you have no plans and not even the brightening of the walls with the morning sunshine can stir you from the7& pit of bedclothes. If you’re very lucky then someone will leave a cup of tea by the bed, and it’ll be just at drinking temperature when you do finally bestir yourself. If you’re not that lucky, then you’ll finally drag yourself out of bed in search of it yourself. Bizarrely, I think I had a dream about that kind of lie in the other day.

There are some days when it’s just not worth getting up. A lie in, as aforementioned, would’ve been lovely, and with the benefit of hindsight that’s exactly what I should’ve done. But you know what I always say? Hindsight is 20-20. And you know what my old Nan, godresthersoul, would’ve said? There’s no use crying over spilt milk. Mind you, where’s the fun in that, eh? You just sit there and drink up and I’ll get the next round in, but I’m determined to get this off my chest.

So, where was I? Oh that’s right. I nearly got a lie in, because there’d been a power cut in the night and it had sent the clock funny. What do you mean an alarm on my phone? Haven’t you heard about the problems of keeping those things in your bedroom? No thank you. I leave it downstairs like any sane and sensible person. No, I’m pretty used to my alarm going off and then it’s time to get up but yesterday, no alarm so I just sort of mentally got cosy again – until the foxes did a duet on the back lawn. I was awake in an instant, I can tell you! As was the rest of the house.

There we all were, behind schedule for work, school and all the rest of it. With ‘diverse alarums and discursions’ as the bard would have it, we managed to get ourselves sorted. We all piled in the car and were only a few minutes later getting out of the house than I like, but I was really on edge by that time. We got to the end of the street and I remembered why I like to be out of the house on time. Wall-to-wall traffic. And would anyone let me out? Would they…ever. All the blighters studiously avoiding making eye-contact. Still, it’s like my old Nan, godresthersoul, used to say: “least said, soonest mended”.

I managed to get everyone where they needed to be without anyone getting in trouble, and I was only a few minutes late myself. Normally that wouldn’t matter, it’s not like the old days when you had to clock on, but the boss was clearly on edge himself. Again, it wouldn’t normally matter as the chances of me crossing paths with him first thing in the morning a usually pretty miniscule. Of course this was the day when we crossed paths in the locker room. He really bent my ear, accused me of sneaking in late and all sorts. What? No, I wasn’t being ‘surreptitious’, thank you very much. I might have been a bit more subdued than my normal effervescent self, but after the morning I’d had so far, so would you be.
I was smarting a bit from the boss’s tongue-lashing, but it does no good to answer back, so I just got on with it. Pulled me boots on and all the rest and went to my workbench. What I should’ve done was gone and got myself a cuppa, but after the earful I’d just had? No chance. Within five minutes my hand slipped and I’d put a gouge in the piece I’d been working on all week. Gutted? You bet. Took me until morning coffee to get back to where I’d been. So it goes. And then after the break I get back to my bench and I’m rummaging around for a tool and can I find it? Can I…heck.

Well, by this time I’m just about ready to blow my gasket, I can tell you. Who’s got my 3/8ths I yell. Everyone, and I mean everyone, looks up. The foreman raises an eyebrow, but leaves it at that. Fred comes over with that stupid grin on his face and just puts it on the bench, doesn’t say a word and walks off. Two minutes later and Charlie’s at my elbow, ever so ‘umble, asking if he might have the half-moon file back that I’d borrowed from him last week. I mean, I ask you!

And that was just the morning. I limped through to lunchtime when I realised that I’d left my sandwiches in the fridge at home. Major despair, I can tell you. A brief moment of happiness when l remembered that I ‘d left something in the fridge at work, which disappeared when I spotted the Tupperware all washed up on the draining board.

I’ll spare you the trauma of the afternoon , but it didn’t get much better. And when we got home, no tea ! In all the kerfuffle of the morning we’d forgotten to reset the oven clock after the power cut.

Some days, it’s just one damn thing after another. Same again?

[914 words]

© David Jesson,  2017


Author: debscarey

Tweets @debsdespatches My personal blog is Debs Despatches, where I ramble on a variety of topics. I write fiction on co-hosted site Fiction Can Be Fun, where my #IWSG reflections can be found; and my Life Coaching business can be found on

One thought on “One damn thing after another …”

  1. Thanks for both those stories, thoroughly enjoyable. I particularly liked ‘the Scottish mafia’: reminded me of when I worked in South Wales and all those ostentatiously being Welsh were known as ‘The Taffia’ – even by soem of the aforesaid OWs! 🙂

    I was hoping to write something myself this time, but Wednesday was busy, yesterday I went out to buy myself a new tablet and this morning the tv engineer called to check whether the problems we are having are caused by a sub-standard router and by the time he had got the whole thing set up it was nearly lunchtime.

    Just one damn thing after another really!

    Liked by 1 person

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