Monday 13 January 2020

Jed and Tanya

by Nick Jarrold

stewed tea

 Not again, thought Jed as he woke up that cold and misty Monday January morning. It was that in-between time. In-between New Year and that first pay day of the year. It was miserable, no one wanted to go out as they'd over indulged during the festive period, there was nothing yet to look forward to. And the weather was shit.

He'd been in his job for the local railway company for more than a decade now, and over the last few months had really come to resent it. Well not the job. Her. He was good at what he did, he knew that and he'd been told by many of his colleagues and peers, some of whom who were now his friends. But she didn't think so. Not Tanya.

She'd come in as his boss around six months ago and for the first month or so, everything was fine, as she learnt the ropes and got her feet under the table. But not long after that the little digs started.

“Why's this taking so long?“
“That's not how I'd do it.“
“This could be better.”

Jed was a patient guy, but there was only so so much even he could take. It got worse as time went on. She took great pleasure in ridiculing him in front of his peers in a meeting without even thinking twice about it. As they were leaving the boardroom and heading back to their desks, Ben said to him “That was a bit harsh wasn't it?

At least Jed knew it wasn't just in his head, and that was some consolation.

As he made his way through the doors of the office in the City of London, that dread and anxiety he felt in the pit of his stomach returned with abundance. It had been there the entirety of his hour long train journey, but was at its worst the closer he got to work. He felt this way every day, especially Monday mornings. He hadn't always felt this way. He use to love his job, yes sometimes he had so much work to do he couldn't see how he'd get it all done, but at least he enjoyed it. That feeling was now a long and distant memory.

The lift made its way to the second floor and he kept quiet, looking at the floor, not wanting the doors to open. He wasn't yet ready to face talking to anyone, it was too early and he'd not yet had any caffeine. But it wasn't long before he was forced into his first conversations of the day, even if it was just a pleasant 'Good morning” to the people he passed on the way to his desk.

She wasn't in yet, thank god. Maybe she'd had some horrible accident at the weekend or on her way to work. Jed normally didn't have these irrational thoughts. Only when it came to her. He laid his bag on the desk and made his way to the cafe in the corner of the office and asked the person serving for a large flat white. It was then that his day got that little bit worse.

Tanya hadn't been in a horrible accident over the weekend, there she was large as life in the cafe, laughing in that annoying way, with her huge teeth showing for all to see. Laughing at one of Rick's jokes. No doubt she didn't find it funny, she was just buttering him up so when she needed a favour he'd do it for her. There was always an underlying sexual tension between Tanya and Rick. Rick knew it and she played up to it as much as she could. The thought of being sexual with Rick repulsed her, but he didn't have to know that.

Her and Jed acknowledged each other with a monotone “Good morning” with no more to it than that. After being given his coffee and adding two sugars, Jed made his way back to his desk. He had no meetings that morning, and thankfully Tanya did, for most of the morning. So at least he'd be left alone to get on with his, in her view, sub-par work. She came back to her desk around 12.15, not long before she took her lunch break 15 minutes later.

“How's the piece for Martin coming along?” she said, almost snapping as she did so.

“I haven't had a chance to look at it yet. This press release about the new product is taking longer than I thought.

It's next on my list, ” he said, trying to appease her.

“Why? It's a simple piece to do, shouldn't take YOU long.” With the emphasis on the word you.

“I want to make sure I've covered everything before sending it off,” he replied

She didn't say anything for a second, then replied “I want to see it before you do to make sure I'm happy with it, I've been doing that a bit too often recently.”

This really wound Jed up as she loved to take any opportunity she could find to put the boot in, especially when there were other people around.

That was it. The straw that broke the camel's back. Everything that had been building up inside, all the feelings, all the negative thoughts he'd had since she'd joined, came to the fore and he didn't care who heard.

“D'you know what Tanya, why don't you just fuck off?” Jed couldn't believe the words were coming out of his mouth, but he couldn't stop now. Here it comes.

“I've had enough. Enough of your sly little comments, the digs, the put-downs in private and in front of others. Fair enough, I might not be your cup of tea, I get that and you're not stupid, you know exactly what you're doing.  You didn't like me from the minute you walked in here, and you've made my life a misery ever since.
Do you know what you are? You're a bully and I'm done being the victim. So you can take your job and shove it up your arse, cos I quit.”

With the words still ringing in her ears, and the whole office silent, he picked up his bag and left that office for the last time, leaving Tanya speechless. A feat in itself.

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