A Corporate Tale of Two Joe’s!

Posted on July 13, 2016

I was talking to my girlfriend this morning about her fears of giving up working part-time and returning to the corporate world of bullshitting and backstabbing undertaken by people either trying to secure their positions or achieve loftier ambitions, despite their lack of discernible talent.

I was a spectacular failure in corporate life, not because I was bad at lying or being a salesman (I was actually quite good at selling) more because I couldn’t fabricate sensational non-existent deals that I had allegedly worked late in the evening to try to secure. I also didn’t have the energy or inclination to make my colleagues look shit, vital for corporate success.

I worked with a chap called Justin at a paint manufactures called Manders in my first kind of corporate sales job and it is remarkable how successful he became by making up tall stories about deals he was close to sealing. He could drag them on for months as his bosses praised his durability before patting him on the back as they narrowly fell through but still weren’t completely dead.

On our monthly sales meetings, Justin would turn up with a folder of bullshit and bamboozle his impressed colleagues in between systematically degrading me with comments like “morning Bob, shit the bed?” as if to insinuate I was always late unless something dramatic had happened. Justin was a cretin.

Anyway, the night before one monthly meeting, I decided I would plan better and after having a good month of sales, I decided I would show off my figures the next day. Whilst doing this, I inexplicably put my car keys in a glasses case during a phone conversation and quickly forgot I had done so.

With everything planned well for the meeting, I went to put the folders in my car but of course, I couldn’t find my keys that were actually my spare set as I had lost the others. At the time, I was living in a house in Reading with my friends Kevin, Paul, Mick and Kev’s girlfriend Jo (a spicy character but quite good fun all the same) who all helped me with my frantic search.

As midnight passed, one by one, they understandably gave up and departed for bed, by which time I was frantic. Then, suddenly, I saw the glasses case and it dawned on me what I had done. The feeling of euphoria of finding something you have lost, just as all hope has gone, almost makes it worth losing them and engulfed in hedonism, I headed straight for the fridge to find some food.

Luckily, tucked in a tupperware box, there was some ham and salad sandwiches, a chocolate bar and an apple, which I quickly devoured before heading off to bed, content that the following day would be a good one, with Justin put firmly in his place by my achievements.

The next morning, as we all gathered around the table with our filter coffee and biscuits ready to start the meeting, the phone in the middle of the meeting room table rang. My boss pressed the button allowing the receptionist to come through on the loudspeaker so we could all hear.

“Sorry to disturb your meeting, I have an urgent call for Bob” she said.

“Who is it?”

“Someone called Jo.”

I couldn’t believe my luck. I had recently done a quote for a substantial amount of materials for a chap called Joe McCarthy and he had chosen now to give me a large order in front of everyone!

My boss gestured at me opening the palm of his hand as if to say...”well, do you want to speak to him?”

“Put him through” I said, with a touch of smugness that was bordering on arrogance.


It wasn’t Joe with an order, it was Jo my housemate. She had just discovered I had eaten her sandwiches and she was apparently incandescent with rage, repeating further volleys of industrial language before I could find the cut off button.

“Everything okay at home” said Justin, before going on to another conversation about another cracking deal he was about to complete. It was the reddest my head has ever been.

Not long after that, the company was taken over and I was made redundant with Justin joining the new company to see through all the massive deals he had on the boil. Most of us had interviews before we were shipped out and there were heavy casualties, so God knows how he survived and indeed for how long?

After another office job, I went out working on my own, realising I am best left to my own devices rather than indulging in all that nonsense, so I can fully understand Jennifer’s fears of rejoining corporate life.

That said, she is a 45 year-old woman, so I would be rather taken aback if she ever nicked someone’s sandwiches.

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