While the day to day running of “The Firm” was at best comical and at worst suicidal making, special events always managed to bring out the worst in the team.
Managing to get through the day when it was a normal one was hard enough for most of us but the added pressure of a visitor or even worse – an away day – filled our hearts with dread.
One such away day was approaching fast for me, one other minion and a director and the dread was building fast.
We had been hand picked to go on the trip as the two least likely members of staff to kick up a fuss at having to spend an entire day alone with the director.
Middle management was of course far too busy to leave her desk and made a point of tap tapping away even faster than usual to make sure that she could never be considered when the subject came up.
The date was set, the purpose of the mission given and the requirements listed dished out to us in advance.
Sturdy shoes – check
A drink of water – check
Some money for snacks – check
Sun cream to protect our foreign dainty skin – check
The itinerary read like a list from a school trip for a bunch of five year olds but what we hadn’t been told was that this check list was aimed at making sure the director was kept happy and comfortable during his trip out and had little to nothing to do with us at all.
The other hapless minion arrived at the destination and wobbled out of the directors car – the journey having been an experience in itself and one that would never be repeated. All those digs at tourist drivers and crazed Portuguese motorists were misplaced because the director was a one man death wish when in a vehicle and nobody else came close.
I drove myself.
Upon arrival it became clear that the first minion was to be used as the general translator for the day. The director himself could speak bar Portuguese (large beer pal) and it wasn’t making any headway at this event so minion 1 was now no longer a trained professional and was simply an expensive and over qualified translator.
I could only wonder what my role would be…it soon became apparent.
My role was to carry the directors bag.
“Take this for a minute sweetie,” he asked in his usual creepy way.
Except it wasn’t a minute and he never once indicated that he had any intention of picking it up again and carrying his huge rucksack himself.
It was pushing 40ºC, there was no shade, I had to carry my own supplies and now I was carrying his – ten steps behind him a lá colonial times.
I was ten steps behind because he was now free to run about and shake hands as minion 1 translated and made the introductions while I lugged the bags and worked up a sweat.
“Do you fancy a spot of lunch – on me?” He asked after a couple of hours.
“Well, that would be nice,” I said, thankful of the rest and a chance to adjust my backpack straps which were in no way complimenting my professional outfit.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a €10 note which was then waved towards me.
“Go and get me two hot dogs, two cans of coke and then whatever you and her want.”
The queue was enormous and when I finally reached the front I ordered his food and drinks to find there wasn’t even enough money to cover his bill – nevermind food or drink for us.
After scratching around my own bag to pay for his lunch I returned to him where he was trying to schmooze some potential clients, thrust the hotdogs into his chubby little hands and the cokes too then walked off to find my own food.
He was then left trying to stop onions and those weird little crisps they put in every fairground meal in Portugal, from running down his fat face while still trying to impress the now disgusted non-potential clients.
Oh the glamour of working for “The Firm”.
When we returned to the ofice the next day the director was already holding court and recounting the tales of clients won and business completed thanks to his charm and wit.
All I could do was chuckle at the recurring image of this fat little man with ketchup running down his face.