Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without me having to get something or other off my chest, so here goes….
After leaving my last job under a cloud/in a blaze of controversy, I did cut contact with a lot of my ex colleagues, especially on Facebook. Most immediately, but I did reach out to a couple of them, and when I didn’t hear anything back or sensed awkwardness, I immediately retreated and thought no more of it.
Then, this summer I received an email from one girl in New York that I used to deal with quite a lot.
‘Hey!’ she exclaimed, in (mock) outrage, totally out of the blue ‘you de-friended me!’
‘Yes!’ I replied perplexed, ‘that was over a year ago, and I didn’t get a reply to my email, so took it that, you know, after all that went on that you preferred not to stay in touch? Anyway, hi!’
‘Oh it’s no problem!’ she replied cheerfully (I didn’t apologise?) ‘we can just stay in touch via email. But guess what? Me and Mindy are coming to London for Christmas!’
That’s what this was about. When previous US contacts/colleagues from Head Office came over to the Smoke ‘on business’, I would provide them with hints/tips/guides on where to go in the capital, so I guess she was after the same.
And that was fine by me. I had some time on my hands, it wasn’t a big deal so I was happy to oblige as whilst I’ve never actually met Sarah, we did used to have to talk a lot (which is why it was a bit of a slap in the face when she didn’t reply) and had a lot of banter, so I waited for all the questions to arrive.
And arrive they did.
And I provided web site links for what’s on in London, transport info, tipping etiquette, restaurants I could personally recommend, markets to visit, the best way and cheapest way to get around the capital, discount cards, and so on and so forth, i.e. everything anyone could ever need for a few days in London.
But the questions kept on coming.
How far is such and such a restaurant from St Pauls?
Is X museum in walking distance from our hotel?
Where’s a good place to take a 14 year old?
What are you doing for Christmas?
Where’s a good place to spend New Year’s eve?
The latter two it turns out, might have been a bit of a hint, as it was followed by something along the lines of ‘Well if you’re having a party at yours or something, that might be fun!’
This is where I have to emphasise (1) I suffer from depression, (2) my flat is about the size of this girl’s kitchen, (3) she blanked me for ONE YEAR, and (4) I HAVE NEVER MET HER BEFORE IN MY LIFE and get anxious when even close friends stay over, let alone someone who is still in touch with the enemy, so suffice to say, there was no way that was happening.
‘Erm, I’m off to my family for Christmas, and I’ll be going to X venue for NYE. Not sure if it’s your cuppa cha, or how far it is from your hotel, but if you fancy it, here is the website where you can buy tickets, so maybe I’ll see you there!’
This suggestion was swiftly dismissed, much to both of our relief, I suspect.
Then I hit a bad patch, and soon after was diagnosed with BPD so went to ground for a while.
Well I tried to.
‘Hey! What time does Liberty open?’
Getting fucking bored of this now.
‘Hey! Have you ever heard of the internet, speaking to your concierge or doing your own fucking research for a change?!’
OK so I didn’t say that. But my God, I thought it but held myself back and just emailed a link to Liberty’s website and hoped they’d take the hint.
‘Hey we get in Saturday lunchtime and should be at our hotel by 2pm, do you want to meet us for a drink?’
Nope, it’s CHRISTMAS, and I do happen to have a life outside wiping your arse for you, you ditz!
‘Sorry babe, got something on Saturday but have a fun evening!’
4pm another message arrives.
‘Just had a great lunch, thanks for the recommendation! Free time this evening, so what do you think we should get up to?’
I don’t know. A tour of the sewers? Go a bondage club? Get your labia pierced at a backstreet tattooists in Shoreditch? Dress up as a baby and regress in the arms of some old brass pretending to be your mum? BECAUSE I’M NOT HER!
My God, what do these people want, a fucking personal assistant organising their every move? Perhaps I should get a cab to their hotel, get housekeeping to let me into their room, drop my knickers, kneel on the floor and stick my bum in the air so they have somewhere to plant their Christmas tree?!
Do Sarah really think I’m her gimp or something, because her presumption that I will keep doing stuff for her is quite frankly beyond arrogant and outrageous?
Then the penny drops; of course she does.
Because when we both worked at Wankers R Us, she was at a much higher level than I and I couldn’t even let out the tiniest of farts without having it approved via her office, so If I wanted to get anything done and earn revenue for our company, I would sometimes have to run it past her office.
And the politics were nasty. I had to hit target so I had to get stuff approved and go and do deals. But we were kind of in competition so I couldn’t think too big unless I showed them up, as they would either stamp on the concept or steal it for themselves. Or they’d let me run with it with the minimum of support, then do an amazing job of it afterwards, learning from my ‘stalking horse’ mistakes and making me look a right twat. Or they’d approve stuff, then change their minds in the flick of an eye, then change it back again if it suited them, whilst in the meantime, I lost sleep, developed eye bags, and juddered with nerves and stress.
So I learned to engage, banter, self deprecate to the point of abuse, and butter them up, appealing to their egos so they’d have some empathy for my position and help me get stuff through, and spent a huge percentage of my working day/evening grovelling, wheedling, pleading and generally bending over backwards for the sole privilege of being able to do the job they paid me to do.
And all I can do now is marvel at how long I did that to myself, for the sake of having a ‘good job’.
And now Sarah seems to think I’ll keep on bending, forwards backwards, and any which way she wants in order to ‘keep her sweet’.
The thing is, I no longer need to ‘keep her sweet’.
In fact, I can safely say i’ll never do a job where I have to ‘keep someone sweet’ to that extent ever again.
And I’m certainly not being her London lackey anymore.
‘Dunno hon, London is your oyster, get online and see what’s on! Anyway it’s Christmas and I’m off out with my friends, so have a fab stay and hope to catch you for a quick drink before you go x’
And I might well go and meet her and her girlfriend, because she was quite fun to talk to.
But it will be on very equal terms.
And she can carry her own fucking bags from now on.