After leaving school, I was quite desperate to get myself into work and took this secretarial job as a fill in. Five years on and I’m still here. I’m still churning out letters from our antiquated printer that only works if you thump it six inches in from the back and for which Mr Parker will only buy cheap ink cartridges. Cheap ink cartridges are all very well if you get them from a reputable company but not Mr Parker.
We don’t need reputable, he says, we need cheap. Cheap office equipment, cheap office furniture, cheap paper that rips most of the time when it’s making a desperate bid to be free of the printer and, of course cheap ink cartridges.
I’ve tried pointing out to Mr Parker that we can still get cheap ink cartridges from a decent, trustworthy company but he panics that no one can match the cheap that he gets from his dodgy dealer that comes round selling things from the back of his grimy old Morris Minor.
I’ve let things drift along for too long now and to be honest Mr Parkers meanness gets me down. It extends to my wage packet and the supermarket carnations he sends me out for on his wife’s birthday. How he manages to keep his business running is beyond me. In fact, I think he knows how dire things have got because whenever he needs to see clients he always takes them to a restaurant.
Not that mean, you may think, but he has an agenda. He lulls them into thinking they’re getting a top class service by treating them to a slap up lunch but they don’t realise that he and the restaurant owner have a deal. Mr Parker gets the meal cheap, of course, and I type up his letters, with cheap ink on cheap paper, of course. It’s a sort of ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ type of arrangement but in a seedy, mean way. To see the two of them scheming makes my teeth itch.
Mr Parker gets his money back from the meal of course. He adds it on to the clients’ final bill so he wins all round. The client has not only received a cheap meal and a cheap service but he ends up paying over the odds for it and very rarely do they muster up the nerve to complain due to Mr Parkers oily, smooth talking ways.
Another anniversary of my time with the company comes and goes and still I receive no pay rise, no advancement on my original school leaving wage and I am heartily sick of it. I have been applying for other local jobs and dared to take a sick day to attend interviews. For this I received a written warning, on that cheap tatty paper with smudged print from the cheap ink cartridge! This man knows no decency!
Two weeks later and I receive the call I have been praying for. My interview with the office in town has been successful and I am to start in two weeks time. While Mr Parker is at another of his cheap lunches, I take great delight in typing out my resignation. I realise the cheap ink cartridge and cheap paper has jammed the printer, yet again and I make my way over to release it.
With one foot on the edge of the desk, I’m tugging at the paper when Mr Parker walks back into the office and startles me. Taking my eye off the job in hand for a split second, I slip on the cheap nylon carpet, my foot goes through the cheap chipboard desk, the paper frees from the jam and I fly backwards into a heap bringing ink from the cheap ink cartridge spilling all over my suit.
One broken ankle, a new suit and a compensation claim to cover my loss of dignity in front of the client as well as the injuries and Mr Parker is about to find out that not everything in life is cheap.