Today was my redundancy meeting at Dream Factory. Alfie’s was just before mine so we planned to meet up in the cafe afterwards. I felt a lot calmer about going into the office than I did last time. Maybe it’s because I do at least have another job now. Pat met me at the door because my key pass, like my remote access and email address, has been deactivated I guess. She led me through to Steve’s old office where Robert was waiting. It was horrible walking though the marketing department and seeing all the empty desks where once there was a mad hive of activity. A few people smiled and tried to catch my eye as I passed but I knew that way madness and tears lay so I kept my eyes straight ahead. Pat stayed in the meeting with me which I’d not expected.
I’d planned ahead with another long list of reasons I should get more than the statutory redundancy package. Basically it was a revamp of the presentation I used to try to keep my job but I went through it all again. I’d added a few things like paying off the eighteen months left on my iPhone contract, seeing as I’d only got the iPhone so I could pick up my work emails when I was working abroad. I expected to have to argue the point for each and every one. Robert listened to everything I had to say then said, “I think that all sounds fair.” I inwardly cursed myself for not asking for more if he was going to cave that easily but it was too late to add anything else.
Pat had to go off and change the redundancy agreement letter to add on all the extras and I was left alone with Robert. There were an uncomfortable couple of minutes of silence and then he asked me what it was like working with Steve and did he really send texts to us in the middle of the night (I’d used that as one of my reasons for deserving more money).
“He was the most demanding and the most dedicated boss I’ve ever worked for,” I told him, looking him straight in the eye. “He put this company on the map because he was outspoken in the travel press but he was charismatic so the agents respected him, loved him even.”
He just nodded and lowered his eyes.
“I got five thousand pounds,” Alfie, squealed, when I met her outside the cafe. “We’re officially unemployed!”
“You look like you’ve lost some more weight,” I said, trying to distract her before she asked me what I got. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I got twice as much as her, plus I’d had to sign a confidentiality clause. I’m useless at telling lies, so if she’d asked point blank I’d probably have blabbed.
“Another eight pounds,” she smiled, doing a little twirl. “Anyway, hark who’s talking, look at you, you’re wasting away. Talking of wasting away, shall we get some lunch? My stomach feels like my throat’s been cut,” typical Alfie, talking a mile a minute and not waiting for an answer.
“So,” she said, once we’d placed our order, “how much have you actually lost?”
Whew, for a moment there I thought she was about to ask the sixty four thousand dollar (or in this case ten thousand pound) question. “Twelve pounds in the last month,” I said, breathing a sigh of relief that we were talking about weight.
“Wow, that’s amazing, especially as you were hardly losing anything before. You’re looking a little guilty though, you haven’t been doing the old two finger trick have you?” she demonstrated by pretending to stick her fingers down her throat. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I mean, I did it myself at the beginning. It’s not ideal though, I mean, all that sneaking off to the loo and hoping no one else is in there that can hear you. I hate being sick too, it seems such a waste of good food.”
“No!” I said, feeling half insulted that she’d think that and half worried that she’d DO that. “Alfie, that’s bulimia, it’s dangerous. Tell me you’re not doing it any more.”
“Of course not. I said its too much hassle didn’t I? I only did it for a couple of weeks. Anyway, I’ve found something much better.” She then proceeded to tell me she’d been taking diet pills and how wonderful they were. They’re basically the same thing as the speed people buy on the street and as addictive. I was shocked into silence but, to be honest, input of any kind from me was pretty unnecessary.
All through the meal she talked and talked, only stopping to shove food into her mouth. She’s always been more of a talker than a listener but this was bordering on the ridiculous. I got the feeling if I’d got up and gone to the loo I’d have found her talking to the wall when I came back. That’ll be the drugs I suppose. I did try to say something but all I got was, “everyone does it,” until I felt like some kind of miserable wet blanket for even suggesting it might be wrong. I’m worried sick about her but she just doesn’t seem to see anything wrong in it.