It's a quiet day in my office when the boss trundles in with a bundle of official looking papers, which can only mean one thing - he's trying to get rid of me again. A great personal tragedy is about to occur. To him.
"Simon, glad I caught you!"
Considering it's 2.30pm on pay day and a mass of expensive hardware that would fit rather well into my briefcase has just gone missing, his surprise and gladness are faked.
He's trying to cover up an ulterior motive.
"I've just had a directive from the top about staff appraisals. The Big, Big Boss wants us all to go through personal interviews this year prior to any increases ..."
Dangling the 'increase' carrot has been used before, and usually precedes an attempt at a monumental shafting. However, a raise is a raise, so I just nod.
The boss takes strength from getting this far and continues.
"Yours, if it's OK, is tomorrow at 10am. Could you make that?" he says, all sugar and spice.
"Of course I could", I reply, smiling with Bambi-like innocence.
The boss thanks me and wanders off, barely suppressing a smug grin. Yep, it's a shafting all right ...
Next morning dawns and I'm in at 9am for a change, watching the entranceway.
Time ticks by and it gets to 9.48 when my suspicions are proved. A pale, emaciated figure, sporting a thoughtful beard, glasses and medical issue white-collar shirt with non-threatening tie, wanders in.
A plain-clothes psychologist if I am not very much mistaken.
I get the PFY over for a quick gander. He nods. Not a word is spoken as he logs into the various control systems, shaking his head.
At the interview, it's the usual psych-type thing, Ink Blots, stories about childhood, recent dreams, and so on.
I decide to go for the high score, and find lots of witches and murderesses in the ink blots, 'remember' some disturbing incidents from my childhood, and tell him that all my recent dreams involve axes and guns and things.
An hour later, he's appearing calm and smiling a lot, but his eyes never leave me for a second.
I smile back.
"Coffee?" I ask.
Afraid to refuse, he nods.
Barely a minute later the PFY brings some coffee in and raises an eyebrow to see how it's going. I keep smiling to maintain my power base.
A couple of security guys pop in mid-coffee and I realise it's the full 101 per cent shafting and they're not only trying to lose me, they're trying to have me committed at the same time - probably to secure the PFY's loyalty in my absence...
It looks like speech time, by the expression on psych-guy's face.
"Simon, I find you to be what we clinically refer to as a sociopath. You have some deep-set adjustment problems that I, as a government appointed health counsellor ..."
Government? The Bastards!
"... am duty-bound to relate to the proper authority, as I feel you may pose a danger to yourself and to others".
He's quick isn't he?
He's also starting to look a bit uncomfortable, which is not surprising considering the strength of the laxative that the PFY put in his drink, but there you go.
Losing his great mental struggle to stay and see this out, he breaks for the toilets, only, if I'm not mistaken, to find them locked.
Strange that, the only key that locks them is the building master, and that's kept in the security's hi-tech safe (three turns to 37, two turns to 12, one turn to 45) which no-one has the combination to.
While he's hitting the stairwell at a run, the boss comes in and grabs my psychiatric evaluation with an evil grin. He wanders back with me to the office to gloat, but I'm too busy watching the closed-circuit TV screen over his shoulder to pay much attention. Psych-guy makes for the quickest source of toileting in a building like ours - the floor below.
It too is strangely locked ....
The door on the floor below that, which doesn't have a lock, is blocked by eight large boxes containing 28-inch boardroom-style video monitors which weigh about a ton each and require a trolley to move ...
He knows he's not going to make it back up the stairs in time, but then he notices a shining beacon presenting itself to him in the form of a rubbish bin at the cafeteria freight entrance.
His relief is immense, but not shared by the cafeteria storesperson who emerges at a bad time, nor by the boss when my moral obligation prompts me to point out the CCTV screen to him.
"Ahem. So good to have a profile of your employees done by a fellow of such discretion and taste", I chirp, as I nudge my profile from his hands into the bin that it can now call home.