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The Week Kicks In

Series: The Adventures Of Cindy George

Chapter 3

The assault of Monday morning came too quickly. As she walked through town, on her way to work, Cindy again started to feel a little guilty about the events of the weekend. But not too much. She knew what Greg was like. He had about as much moral compass as “that Profumo bloke.” Boys would be boys and all that. Why shouldn’t she do the same as him?

It made going back to work that much more of a come down, though. She was never in the mood for the Monday blues and, after the weekend she’d had, it was harder to get back into it. All she wanted was another big night on the tiles, with whoever she ended up meeting in whatever bar, party, or club she happened to be in.

Not long after she had arrived in the office, her boss asked for a word. She went over to sit next to his desk and, looking at her over his thick glasses, his receding hairline reflecting the fluorescent light above his head, he explained that there was a job he wanted her to do. He needed to find some papers, relating to a contract from a few years ago which would be “gathering dust on a file somewhere.” Could Cindy go through the filing cabinets and try to find them?

She didn’t have a lot of choice about it. She was on a temporary contract, so she had to do what she was told. But she could have done without it. A day sitting quietly at her desk would have been preferable to standing next to a filing cabinet.

But she reluctantly agreed and, after a cup of tea and a chat with a girl in the kitchen about her wedding plans, she went over to the filing cabinet and started work. She went through a few files, found some papers, photocopied them and put them in a folder. It was as dull as she had expected. She sometimes told herself that this job kept her off the streets but then reflected that the streets were more fun.

It was hot as well, and dirty. The weather had warmed up recently and the temperature in the office was too high. Why did that always happen? The weather got warmer and everywhere it was overly hot, in shops, in pubs, on buses. It was the same wherever she went.

She was also less than happy about what going through a pile of dusty files would do to her clothes. She was wearing a light blue top and wanted to keep it clean. And she might break a nail which she would like to avoid if she could.

She stood and looked at old memos from years ago when she was still at school. She reflected on her position. They had let the temp girl sort it out, she thought to herself, the most junior person in the office, presumably under the pretext that it would give her some experience. She had news for them. She’d had plenty of experiences, most of which would make their hair curl, however little of it they had left. And there were plenty of experiences to come, she hoped.

She leant down, picked up a file from the bottom drawer and her long hair fell forward. She threw it back and her cheeks went a little pink as she suddenly felt another rush of heat and, with it, a pang of self-consciousness. She was in full view of everyone in the open plan office. She didn’t want to be. What was she? Their entertainment for the day?

All she wanted was to get out of there, have a shower to get the dust off, and go out somewhere exciting. She put the file down. She was going for a walk, for a few minutes to herself. On the way, she reflected why she was there. To earn money. To live the good-time lifestyle that she was getting into.

Then she remembered. There was something she needed to do. Now was as good a time as any.

She walked down the corridor and caught the lift up a couple of floors. was going to see the girl who allocated car parking spaces. was someone senior’s secretary and carried out car park allocation as an add-on to her normal duties.

Cindy got out of the lift and headed to the girl’s office, which was quite small and adjacent to her boss’s, unlike the open plan area she was used to. She tapped on the door and walked in.

“Can I help you,” said the girl, who was sitting behind her desk, which was adorned with pot plants. She had shortish brown hair, cut too severely.

“Hi,” said Cindy.

“Yes?”

“I was wondering if there are any car park spaces available. I’d like to drive to work.”

“There’s a form you have to fill in,” said the girl. She opened her drawer and handed one to Cindy.

“Have you got a pen?”

“Yes. Here you are. But you can take the form and bring it back.”

“I’ll do it now.”

Cindy went to a table in the corner of the small office. The girl looked at her as she sat down. She filled out the details that the form requested; name, address, registration number of vehicle, that sort of thing. Then she got up and handed it back.

“There you are,” she said.

“Thank you.”

The girl started to read through it. She started to smile. She looked up at Cindy.

“I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to offer you a space,” she said.

“Sorry?” said Cindy.

“I can’t give you a space. You don’t qualify.”

“What do you mean?”

“You live too close to work.”

“What does that mean?”

“There are rules about who can have a space. The policy is that, if you live close enough, you can walk. You don’t need a space.”

“Who decided that?”

“It’s company policy.” She looked at Cindy hard.

“How close is too close, then?” asked Cindy. “Lizzie Duncan in accounts has a space. She lives a couple of streets away from me.”

“Lizzie Duncan,” said the girl, smiling. “Lives just far enough away. I’m afraid, you don’t. Now if that will be all…”

It was the supercilious way the girl looked at her that made the red mists come down, the little bit of power she was wielding, the fact that she saw herself as a cut above everyone else.

“No, it won’t be all,” said Cindy. “Who gives you the right to stop me parking my car at work? It’s a stupid rule.”

“Now…”

“Don’t ‘now’ me,” said Cindy. She was angry, she stood with her hands on her hips screaming at the girl. It went on for a couple of minutes. If she hadn’t been at work, there was no doubt what she would have done. She’d have asked her to go outside and they would have sorted it out in the car park. But, as she was at work, she thought she’d better not suggest it. So, after letting off a lot of steam, she decided to cut her losses and walk away.

She went to the ladies and looked herself in the mirror. You're above all that, Cindy, she told herself. Never forget it. Let the petty-minded play their little games. Don't get sucked into their curtain twitching world.

 

She didn’t stay late. Neither did she go back to the files. She couldn’t face it. She just went back to her desk and did as little as possible for the rest of the day. Her boss didn’t notice, he was busy on other things. As soon as she had left for the day, she did as well.

As she was walking home, she saw an old friend, Ann. They had known each other since they were children. Cindy had seen her a few weeks before, with a man who looked about forty, and managed to avoid eye contact. This time she wasn’t so lucky. She walked up the street and Ann was coming the other way. Her heart sunk. She thought about turning round and going back but she had been seen.

"Hi Cindy,” said Ann, a big smile on her Sunday school teacher's face.

"Hi Ann,” said Cindy. "How's it going?.”

"Very well. Oh, Cindy. I want to hear your news. And I've got things to tell you.”

"That sounds good.”

"Shall we go for a drink?”

Cindy looked look at her watch.

"All right. But I can't stay long. I've got people to meet.”

"Are they the girls you were with at that pub on the new estate, the other night?”

"They might be. I didn’t know you were there.”

“I didn’t think you’d seen me.”

“Why do you ask?”

"Nothing.”

You knew that when Ann said "nothing" she meant something. Cindy didn’t think about it. She wasn’t meeting the girls tonight anyway, though she wasn’t telling her that. She followed Ann to the pub on the corner of her street, which was full of old men and blue rinse women.

Ann bought the drinks, which was good in one way, but which meant she could hardly ask for a double. Ann said she wanted to hear Cindy’s news but, before she had a chance to speak, was telling hers. She had met someone called Peter who worked at a bank and was involved with the young conservatives. There was a chance of a mortgage on “one of those properties on the new estate.” It was very exciting. Then she started talking about society's ills and how to solve them, people claiming benefits, girls getting themselves pregnant to get a council house, how national service would teach young people more discipline, that sort of thing. By this point, Cindy had had enough. She made an excuse and said she had to go.

"There's some tea in the oven for you,” said her mum when she arrived home. "I've had mine.”

"Thanks.”

"Was there something on at work?.”

"No. I saw Ann and we went for a drink.”

"I bet that was fun.”

"Yes.”

Cindy smiled to herself. Ann and fun were not words she often used together.

 

The next morning, she woke and stared at the ceiling, then at the picture of Greg on her bedside table, with his dreamy eyes and soft smile. She couldn’t face going into work, to go through the files again. The weather was good and so she decided to have a day off work. She called in sick. Her boss wouldn’t know she was skiving, would he?

She got up late, had something to eat, had a shower, and headed out to the park to do some sunbathing. She usually sat in the same spot when she came here, in front of some trees with a good view of the park. She could see everyone come and go from there, the office workers - some young, still with a zest for life, still with a belief outside the confines of the office - some old, whose enthusiasm had been knocked out of them by the combination of negative vibes from their spouse and negative vibes from the neighbours and negative vibes from their boss. Then there were the housewives with the children, who still had hope and belief, mainly in the potential of their offspring. Then there were the students, from the college down the road, who still saw life as a playground. There were no prizes for guessing who she identified with.

She put on some music, lay there in front of the trees, and let it take her somewhere. She would put on some funky rhythms to get her in the mood for a day of sunshine and daydreaming.

When she got home, she realised she was feeling bored. She was used to seeing Greg every night and was at a loose end. She was ready to go out again, have some vodkas, maybe go to a club. That night, she thought about going to The Ship but decided to wait. She had only just started hanging round with Donna and the girls that she went out with on the Saturday before. She didn’t want to outstay her welcome.

She would wait until the weekend, which was only a couple of days away.

Tomorrow, she would drive to work anyway, despite what the stupid girl had said.

 

 

 

 

 

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