Roland’s amalgamation to 2nd line was arduous. His physique, just as pious and wretched as Angie’s, slithered over MAFG’s old desk space in exultance, his mannerisms and movements unnervingly similar to his Mother’s. His keyboard and mouse glistened as though he would secrete some sort of mucus as he worked, as if to chemically claim permanent ownership. Roland’s voice, though weedy and undeveloped, bore all the same neurosis and vile overtones which Angie would spit out on a daily basis. His eyes almost serpent like, as if they would pierce the skin if he stared long enough.
I had just spent a glorious week on annual leave, putting finishing touches to my band’s album. The ugly situation at work had been far from my mind as I enjoyed every minute of my creative freedoms.
Sunday marked the penultimate day of my freedom by bringing with it the feeling of impending doom. By Monday morning, my commute to work seemed ghostly as my attention was constantly attracted to the clock in my car. It ticked by the minutes towards 9:30am and my arrival back in this gloomy pit where Angie stood Lord and Master. My foot barely wanted to touch the accelerator pedal; these thoughts did something to my subconscious which I felt forced to fight.
My entrance into ITS was barely noted by the inhabitants whose faces seemed fixated on their own screens, as if to break for a moment would feel the wrath of some frosty dominator. Roland’s bleak personality radiated throughout the small department like a bad smell, only amplified by Angie who sat mere meters away. Fighting through this black air, I sat at my desk. As Outlook churned into life, the email traffic of the previous week waterfalled down my unread pane, the main view providing snippets of what had transpired my absence. The hard disk ticked and tocked, the LED flashing in sympathy in its race to return to life after a week starved of power.
The unmistakable apprehensive walk of the Balding Head of IT came into view as he arrived at my desk, desperately maintaining as dominant a pose as he could muster despite his triviality. He voiced his usual brand of pleasantries as our exchange turned to the important business of the rollout project. All appeared to be well in BHIT’s world. The machines from Dell were on order, to be delivered in batches, the pilot group had been well informed, the software vendor was communicative and the relevant sales managers seemed to enthusiastically thumbs-up all round his every action.
I started discussing finer details, “I want to get at least one of the builds done today as a first draft. It’s better to get it done early so there’s more time to rectify issues and build machines.”
BHITs expression altered as if to purposely show confusion. “Oh,” he mused. “I was under the impression the first draft build was done?”
I hadn’t heard the shrill of Angie’s voice in a while, but its tone was just as familiar as if I had endured it all my life. Without even turning around in her chair to face us, her words showered us with all the same bitterness, “The first build is done! Someone else did it while you weren’t here!” Angie’s tone was mired in the suggestion that my well-earned week off had proven me negligent, another spit in the face from this diseased rat.
Roland took his cue as if they were both reading from some psychic score, “Yes, I did it. It wasn’t that hard really, just install everything and domain register it.” His simplistic insight into my carefully honed art was if to mock all that I had worked for and write it off as if he had found it unchallenging and inconsequential.
“There’s far more than that!” I disputed. “You need to add the office wi-fi, VPN, antivirus, etc…”
Angie’s retort was sudden and venomous. “It’s been dealt with. Roland is doing the builds. You would know that if you had read the revised project plan in your email! You said yourself that junior members need to have training as part of the project! He will consult you as needed!”
It seemed Roland had been furtively promoted again, this time within the echelons of his own team. I was now Roland’s bitch! BHIT seemed as if he would have done anything at that moment to disappear into a cloud of smoke as the rest of ITS still sat motionless with their eyes cemented into their PC screens, pretending not to hear this firework going off around them.
My hint at checking Roland’s work was again sharply rebutted; Angie this time turned her chair to face me, her eyes like stilettos garnished with her down-turned, drawn-on eyebrows. Her skeletal pointy chin moved in harmony with her bark as she added finality to this conversation. “You have other things to be getting on with. Read the project plan and get back to work. Roland will consult you when he needs you!”
Knowing there was no win here, I returned to my screen, Outlook waiting like an obedient dog with 173 unread emails. I looked at BHIT with a silent sigh, expecting him to interject in some way. Instead he just shuffled away, obviously completely ill-equipped to properly deal with what had just happened. He uttered some empty promise of catching up with me later, but this was drowned out by the sifting sound his suit made as it transported him away.
Angie had been busy in my absence. An email forwarded to all the major players in this assignment was emblazoned with a send date of 10pm Sunday evening – two days after I was last in the office - as if to prove Angie’s so-called dedication to the cause. It was a carbon-copy of my well-thought-out and scrupulous project plan, except my involvement in almost every developmental stage had been written out, like a poorly written character in some novelist’s prose. Roland’s new found sole-command of the technicalities seemed all too purposeful. Angie had painstakingly placed me in the back-end of the entire rollout, promoting our newest arrival, her son, into the most delicate of tasks. The rat had risen to a position of power!
I hated what had become of the project. My considerable and enumerated planning had been cast aside like a cheap newspaper as Angie lay claim to its proficiencies in her bid to establish herself at the top of the food chain, ensuring that any credit traveling up would end with her. In a last ditch attempt to fight back, I emailed my concerns to BHIT. The time scales of the project and Angie’s apparent and purposeful transference of my responsibilities meant that the rollout was now very susceptible to failure. I fine-tuned my words for nearly an hour, striking a fine balance of concern without appearing confrontational.
Finally, after much deliberation, I took an all or nothing stance. I added a personal addendum in which I vented about Angie’s disruptive nature within support, her constant criticisms and micromanagement, her fork tongue and angry, terminal attitude; BHIT needed to get involved now and reign this beast back in.
I couldn’t help but notice Roland fawning over one of the new Dell laptops, his prize that accompanied his birth right. No expense had been spared on these machines, attested to by the fresh, sleek black appearance. It was now being painted with Roland’s clammy, greasy hands, the slimy fingerprints unnaturally obvious underneath the incandescent office lighting. I felt a sense of jealousy, like my obvious experience had been made irrelevant against this vassal creature’s ignorance.
Silence followed as the email disappeared from my outbox. The feeling I had was that this had either sealed my fate or marked a major turning point for the better. Ten minutes went by, still no response from BHIT. I sat, eagerly awaiting the Outlook balloon which would at least acknowledge BHIT’s reading of my plea.
Instead came the unmistakable sound of BHIT timidly rising from his chair, the rustle of his suit seemed signatory as it served to fanfare his escape out of the office towards the main stairs. I was alone, in hell, with Angie, her spawn, and several demoralized, broken and burned out ITS engineers.