Full Maxol jacket in Mullingar.

There was big talk of a meeting due to the dire decrease in numbers. The motivational phone calls weren’t doing the trick and the screaming requests for paid expenses, accurate wages and general understanding of the Irish psyche when it came to quare companies, were falling on deaf ears. It was decided, in the spirit of respect for employees, and to add professional gravity to the situation, and in line with the budgetary ethos, that we ought to meet out the back of the Maxol petrol station beside the car wash, in Mullingar.

            We talked on the way over about how best to approach this council of war? We were coming from Athlone. They were coming from Dublin. What tactics might provide the most profitable outcome. Jimmy said we should insist on a lower target, get food expenses, and clean jackets. Last week he got a company jacket in the post that hadn’t been washed since the time of Fred Flintstone. It had the smell of a wet dog mixed with sour milk and it was too big, so he looked like a man about to jump down a manhole and go shovelling shite for the day.

            Joe was in the back, scrolling through a phone with a cracked screen, and said: ‘Do you think we could get a raise?’

            The road rolled past like an escalator, cats eyes, and trees laughing at the idea of getting more money. All this was cutting into my day. I’d already missed Joe Duffy and the future of The Hard Shoulder at half four was in doubt. Sure this is pure slavery altogether.

             Next thing didn’t I get an email, was I still ok for the interview later on?

            Interview? Oh yeah, fuck.

            That.

            There was a crowd wanting to talk about another job somewhere else. I had applied for so many I wasn’t sure which one this was about.

            I looked it up. Didn’t seem too bad. They even had an office and mad things like a payroll. It would be tight with the meeting, but I could swing it.

            Later at the Maxol, boutique ambience for big businessmen like ourselves, Midlands 103 on the speakers over the deli, a limited time offer on toilet paper. The Dublin crowd sprung for coffees all around and made half-hearted offers of chewy croissants. Then we went outside and got down to it, which turned out to be a pep talk on costs, profits, the importance of ambition and the need to keep focused on potential and growth. It was hard to hear them after a while cos there was a lad power washing an Audi and the spray was kind of drifting over into our eyes and landing on the rim of the cups. There was no move on more money, or a raise, and the lower target was taken into consideration – which meant not a fuckin hope either.

            Good job I had that interview.

            Later, caught for time, I set the phone up on the dashboard. Gelled the hair, fired on a fasht tie and got set up.

             They appeared on the screen like two fellas just back from the beach. T-shirts, tired eyes, the sitting room cabinets behind them, struggling to stay interested.

            Talked shite for a while and they said they’d let me know.

            Later the email came from Laura, Linda, Lisa, I can’t remember which.

             Didn’t go well, she said. You can’t be doing interviews in the car like that. Not professional. But we’ll keep you on file.

            Do, Lorraine, keep me on file. Thanks

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