Stories

Banding (Pt 2)

Posted on December 17, 2009. Filed under: Stories | Tags: , , , , , |

Micheal had spent the rest of the day at home yesterday. As soon as he had arrived home he took off his work clothes, flung them on the floor, had a shower and got dressed in his trademark grey, weekend track bottoms and a white t-shirt. He went downstairs to the living room and soaked in the day time sitcoms, mostly US; watched a sad true-life movie about a pregnant woman running away from her abusive husband and watched a wedding program about young couples who are followed around by cameras whilst they prepare to get married.

He had eaten take-out pizza, chicken, chocolate fudge cake and drank about 4 energy drinks that afternoon. He sat in the same chair. In a comfortable slouching position. Yes, he thought, it did feel like a weekend, except, it was Tuesday and only a few hours ago, he was in a suit, in the city, at work.

 Today, though, Michael was feeling even worse. Physically he felt sick. It had been a while since he’d just pigged out like that and been as chilled as he was yesterday and the 10 slices of pizza he had eaten, the whole chocolate fudge cake and the energy drinks were creating a sluggish feel and the world’s most painful headache.

He peaked out from under the covers. The light flowing into his bedroom was unwelcoming. He squinted as he tried to get a glimpse of his surroundings. He looked at the time – it was 9.30am. Michael closed his eyes and opened them again as though he had misread the time. Nope. It was 9.30am. Well, 9.31am to be exact. Michael smiled a wry smile to himself. It was as though his body clock had gathered that they weren’t going to work today. It felt strange.

He slowly pulled the covers off himself, pushing down with his feet; the covers to sliding right off him. Looking down he realised he still had on his track bottoms and white tee.  

 Slowly sitting up on the side of his bed, Michael faced the huge window and looked directly into the rays of light adorning his room with a wonderful almost spiritual glow. He slowly stood up, adjusting his boxers and track bottoms as he did so.

Walking slowly into the en-suite,  Michael kicked his work clothes from the previous day out of his way. Walking into the bathroom he noticed how sweet smelling it was in there. He soon realised it was his aftershave. He had left the lid off the previous morning as he was in a rush to get to work. Probably wouldn’t have rushed in if I knew… Michael thought. He stood in front of the long mirror next to the sink. Facing himself head on he gave himself a nod of satisfaction. There was no doubt he was good looking. His dark skin tone had highlights of gold giving it a creamy mocha look. His eyes were big yet delicate; his nose was a strong and broad ‘African’ nose with a slight cute up turn at the tip. His lips were quite feminine; full and juicy. Michael was extremely proud of his physique. He stood firm and tall, with broad shoulders and a hardened and well cut chest. At 6’4”, he was the tallest in his family, with his two brothers, Marcus, the oldest at 35, in at 5’9 and the youngest at 28, Mari in at 5’11. His Mum must have come in at what seemed to be 5’0”. And from what Michael can remember, their Dad was pretty tall. But when you’re that young, and that small, your Dad always seems tall.

 Michael stepped into the shower and allowed the water to run all over him. He watched as the water ran its course down to his firm sturdy thighs all the way down to his feet and became part of the puddle that was collecting around him. He rubbed the water around his chest and held his head up to allow the water to immerse his face.

Stepping out of the shower he could hear the phone ring. Wrapping a towel around his waste he slowly walked out of the bathroom into the bedroom and over to the bedside table, screening the number that appeared on his mobile phone screen. It was Mari’s mobile number. Michael quickly picked the phone up.

‘Mari. What’s up bro?’

‘Hey man. I called you like 3 times yesterday. No answer. You cool?’

‘Yeah man, I’m good. You?’

‘Good man good! Just that you were gonna call me about that whole car thing. Best Buy Cars still have that Audi I’m on about, and boy how I see it, it’s gonna go fast, so…’’

‘Oh yeah, sorry bro, I forgot. What you doing today?’

‘Today? I’m at work bro!! Where you? Cos it kinda quiet? You at home?’

Michael rubbed his forehead.

‘Yeah. Yeah I’m at home.’

‘Oh okay. Why you sick?’

‘No not at all. I was…I lost my job yesterday man. Made redundant.’

Michael squinted as he waited for the response.

‘whaaaaaaaat?’ Mari exclaimed stunned.

‘Yeah. Redundant.’

‘Serious?’

‘Yep.’

‘Oh bro, I’m sorry man. What happened? Was it just you?’

‘Nah, it was a bunch of us. Just…a bunch of us.’

‘No way. So sorry man. Didn’t even know…cos I thought you’d be there for life.’

‘Me too!’

‘You loved that job.’

‘Yep.’

‘You know what though man, it’s their loss. You were the best thing to happen to that place anyway. They’re not gonna be anything without you. Just a chance for you to be bigger and better.’

Michael smiled. He had always loved Mari’s approach to the knocks and obstacles in life. Even though he did have the tendency to state the obvious at times. Though Mari had a carefree ‘no worries’ look at life. Never letting anything get him down.  He was a straight talker. He was a true fighter, Michael thought, in every sense of the word.

 ‘Thanks man.’ Michael said sitting down. He was touched

‘What you thanking me for. You know it’s true. Don’t worry about anything. You’re gonna be alright. Look, what you doing later tonight? You planning on going out or anything? I can bring the print out of the car round.’

‘Yeah. That’s cool man. I’m not going anyway so…’

‘Alright. I’m gonna come by after work then. Think I’ll leave here early so I can chill at yours for longer if that’s cool?’

‘Yeah no worries bro. See you later then.’

 As Michael put the phone down he couldn’t help smiling. He needed that; that phone call from Mari, though simple, it provided him with a little encouragement and something else to look forward to.

He wiped off the remaining drops of water that was left on his chest and went back into the bathroom.

It was around 1 o’clock when Michael finally turned on his computer to check his email. He was dreading it. The emails from those at work he wasn’t able to say bye to or those he really didn’t want to say bye to but had sent him a farewell anyway.

 Thirteen new emails. He clicked the ‘inbox button and scrolled down the list of names.

Kingsley: re: good luck and go get ‘em

Aman: re: All the best M!

Caroline: re: miss you already.

Simon: re: Good Luck

Joshua: re: Me too!!!

Anita: fwd: re: Me too!!!

Stacy: fwd: fwd: re: Me too!!!

Tomiko: re: no way….

Len: re: all the best for the future

Kym: re: Keep in touch handsome!

MariSoldier1: re: What happens when…This is so funny!!

Eva: re: Hey stranger

Marcus_Samuels: re: Attch – The pics from last Saturday…

 Michael sighed in exhaustion. Sittin back in his chair, he began clicking on the emails to read. As he had thought, all those from his ex-work colleagues were of sympathy and pats on the back and ego boosters. Just the stuff he was hoping to avoid. Three of them were from his very close work friends who had also been made redundant. One of them, Joshua even mentioned that he may be looking to sue the company. Michael clicked on the email from Mari. It was just so Mari to send him and email like this. Always sickly funny or vulgar or destined to scare. In this clip a baby who is being filmed on his potty, picks up his poo and carrying it to the living room, hands it to an unsuspecting man who is engrossed in what seems to be a football match. The child handing him the poo says ‘here, it’s a present, it’s chocolate. The man not looking at the object in his hand chucks the ‘chocolate’ into his mouth as he concentrates on the screen. The man screams as he realises, after taking what seems to be a little too big of a bite, spits it back out. Everyone in the room bursts out laughing and the man runs to the bathroom…The video ends.

Typing reply to Mari, Michael writes:

No! He took a bite!?! Sick!

M.

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Banding (Pt 1)

Posted on December 8, 2009. Filed under: Stories | Tags: , , , , , |

He played the words over and over again in his head. It was a cruel and hostile word thats sole purpose was to destroy all that was good and put an end to a life that he once knew.

‘…redundant.’ Michael recalls a time where he once read somewhere that when bad things happen or about to happen to us, emotionally of physically, we tend to curl up into a ball, or foetal position, as this position offers us security and protection and a sense of peace. Right now, Michael wished he could do the same. Except, he thought, his boss sitting opposite him would think that a bit strange.

‘…I’m sorry Michael. As our company undergoes some major changes, we have come to realise that a number of positions will no longer be needed. This is in no way a reflection on you or your abilities as an employee as you’ve been fantastic and an amazing asset to this organisation…’

Michael could tell this was extremely hard for Caroline to say. She looked almost ill as she delivered the news. As though she had just eaten something so revolting and was having a hard time digesting it. Michael cracked a slight smile as he studied her face. Maybe it was even harder for her to have to say then it was for him to have to hear.

 ‘…and it is sad. But, and I’m speaking from experience here, it is not the end of the world Mike. I can promise you that.’

 It may not have been the end of the world, but it seemed like it. And it certainly hurt just as much. He’d worked at Omar and Leary for seven years. He’d started as a fresh faced 25 year old, with all the enthusiasm, and eagerness to make a good impression in one of the UK’s top ad agencies; working with some of the worlds most prestigious companies; living the high life and playing the self confessed role of a ‘playboy’ – holidays to the Bahamas, skiing (which he vowed never to try again!!), and even a stint at dating a catwalk super model. Well, maybe not so much catwalk as catalogue, and not so super, he recalled, but a model nonetheless.

He’d been on a yacht, eaten too much sushi and got sea sick whilst trying to wine and dine a client and even made a business deal in the air whilst co-piloting a some what crazy dare devil Texan oil tycoon in his helicopter. That day, Michael recalled, was the day he actually understood the word FEAR. He cracked a pleased smile. He’d done pretty well for himself so far, but today it was all coming to an end. He wanted to cry at the very thought.

‘…so HR will go through with you in a bit what you’d need to sign and about all that legal stuff that I know nothing about. But if you have any questions regarding all of this, please just fire away. It’s really wrong, I know, but.’

Caroline had stopped and was now staring at him in a sympathetic ‘Mumsy’ way. Head slightly tilted to the side. She was only two years older than him, yet at the age of 34 she resembled someone much older. Her brownish blond hair had been put into what Michael could only think was meant to be a bun, but either a stressful day or not enough time in the morning had made loose strands fall around her delicate face making her look a little dishevelled and a little too relaxed.

‘Nah, I’m good. I guess I just need to…you know…just process it all.’ What the hell was he talking about, Michael thought. He got it – he no longer works here any more. What was there to process? He had done all his ‘processing’ whilst Caroline talked. There was nothing left to process.

‘I guess it’s just…crap init?…you know, to have this happen to me, right now when I’m at the top of my game… you know…like it didn’t take hard work to get here in the first place. I mean maybe it is just time to move on you know, to start something fresh. And you know maybe I was getting too comfortable. But it’s cool’ Michael could hear h isvoice start to fade. It hurt. It did hurt.

Michael stopped. What was he doing? Talking just seemed to be making him angry; more emotional. Looking across at Caroline didn’t help either. She just looked like she had no answers and right now he needed something, anything that told him ‘their loss’.

‘You know what’, I think I’m gonna take all my holidays from today if that’s okay, I don’t want the holiday pay off if that’s alright?’

‘Yeah, no that’s fine Mike. I totally understand sweetheart.’ Caroline exclaimed. ‘I wouldn’t wanna stick around either. Look I’ll call HR and see if they’re ready to see you yet.’

When Caroline left the room, Michael, for the first time since hearing the news, seemed to crumble. Tears filled his eyes and his stomach began to churn as thoughts filled his head about the future. Not so much a few weeks from now more like a few hours from now. Should he go straight home after this, or go to the gym? The gym – was his employees discount still valid? Discounts; all the employee discounts – the record stores, sports wear and fashion stores, airline ticket and hotel discounts; cinema and theme park discounts – great when he took his niece and nephew. Oh no, his brother – was he going to tell his brother about this. They’d always been in this weird competition with each other although none of them would dare admit it.

‘Sorry sweetheart. Right, I’ve spoken to HR. They said you can go up now if you just wanted to handle everything right now?’

‘Yeah. Yeah, just wanna get it all out the way. Thanks for…just…’

‘No don’t start thanking me Mike, you’ll ‘ave me in tears if you do. Come ‘ere’

Caroline stood up to give Michael a hug. His tall frame towered over her pettiness as he bent down to wrap his arms around her cushioned frame. Michael leaped into the hug more than he had planned. He realised that he needed a hug and that Caroline’s was so calming and re-assuring that he began to feel closer to her right now than he had in the whole 9 years they ‘d worked together.

‘You’re gonna be okay sweetheart. I know it.’ Caroline said as she lovingly rubbed Michael’s back.

‘Thanks Caz.’ Michael said, half in agreement.

Micheal turned round at the entrance to the building. He had nothing much to carry with him. Just a few pieces of paper and his portfolio bag containing his history at Omar and Leary. He hadn’t said goodbye to many as he packed his stuff. Partly because many of them were already on their lunch breaks but mostly because it hurt too much to say goodbye for the day and know that it didn’t mean see you tomorrow.

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