Chapter 1- Headache.

Tanya had a headache. She sat behind her desk in the muffled quiet of her office, and stared out at the computer screen. 1,384 emails in her inbox. 17 unread. 9 from Sally – all together, one after another, probably about recruitment again. Yes. All nine titled “Interviews”. Tanya hated interviews. All that interacting with people, trying to work out whether the person across the desk was the right person to be allowed in; the right person to be trusted. It was, she felt, just too emotionally draining. Tanya looked away from the screen, dipped her head down to meet her hand, and rubbed her forehead a little. It didn’t help her headache feel any better.

She looked back at the inbox and scanned the “subject” list. All pretty boring stuff she wasn’t in the mood to even open. A few meeting requests for Norwich and Manchester, something about the budget, some nonsense about the company Strategy Steering Group. Just as she was thinking about how indescribably dull the Steering Group Meetings were, another email came in. The subject said “Concern.” Her interest was piqued. Well, this one might not be so dull, she thought, and clicked it open. It was from Megan. “Hi Tanya. Have you got 5 minutes? I’ve received some complaints about our friend in Marcomms. I need some advice. ”

Tanya made a fake smile at the computer screen. She pushed her chair back and surveyed her desk from arms length. A big, untidy pile of  papers and folders sat on her right-hand side, nearest the wall. Most of it needed shredding, but she couldn’t be bothered to do it this week. Her eyes rested on the silver photo frame between the pile of papers and the computer screen. Ah, Craig. She smiled a more genuine smile at the image of her husband with his wide, generous face pointed to the camera as he stood, arm around her shoulders, at one of the gala dinners they had been invited to. The smile stuck to her face and faded, though, as she thought about the fact he had been on a week-long business trip to Brussels without her. She wondered for a moment what he was doing with his evenings there.

On the other side of the desk was a coaster, printed with the name of some stationery supplier or other, a green pen-pot, a small, brown ceramic dish full of paperclips and a grey desk phone. She liked her desk. She liked her office. She liked her computer. Out there, though? That was full of people who would talk to her, ask her things, expect her to respond to their little emergencies. She hated them. She hated them all.

No.

She didn’t hate ALL of them. She didn’t hate Megan. And she didn’t really hate Sally, although Sally probably thought she did. And she didn’t hate Rona. Sally was useful and did as she was told, so she was okay to have around. Megan and Rona were managers of their own sections, People Development and Finance & Audit respectively. Of course they three were comrades, of sorts, but more importantly, they were useful people to have on her side. Tanya moved back towards her keyboard and opened a reply window to Megan’s email. Despite the headache, she would be more than happy to have a quick chat; how about now?

******

Fifteen minutes later, Megan knocked on Tanya’s door and stepped in. Tanya ushered her to a chair next to the small round table at the end of her office, underneath the monochrome print of London at night, and occupied the other chair herself.

“So, what’s all this about then?” Tanya asked, breezily.

Megan sighed loudly. She placed some printed emails on the desk in front of her, and then looked up at her friend. “Greg Preston has pissed off a whole load of people at an event last week. Looks like the demo team didn’t have enough demonstrators, so they roped in Greg and now we’ve got six people up in arms about what he was doing”.

“So what was the event?” asked Tanya.

“CPD day in East London for our South East staff. The Demo team were showing a few new pieces of equipment, including a new lightweight wheelchair and a portable hoist. They were stuck for demonstrators, so they got Greg involved. Shouldn’t have been a problem, he’s very familiar with the equipment.”

“But?”

“But, six people have complained about his language, his behaviour and one says he touched her. ” Megan paused and shook her head sadly. “I just can’t do it any more.”

“Did you talk to him?”

“No. I wanted your advice first. I don’t want him. I don’t want to try to manage him any more.” She looked up at Tanya, her eyes wide and liquid-filled. “How do we get rid of him, Tanya?”

Tanya paused. There was no doubt that Greg Preston was a pain in the neck. He was loud, he was opinionated and he was persistent. Megan was a nice lady, but she was weak. Managing people was not one of her strengths, and the rest of her team was full of nice, diligent workers who just got on with things, so they didn’t really need managing if truth be told. This suited Megan down to the ground. But Greg didn’t fit in. Greg needed directing and managing, and Tanya knew that this terrified Megan. They’d had conversations about it before.

Megan handed Tanya the sheaf of emails for her to read.

After a few minutes of reading, Tanya said “Yes. I think we can paint a picture with this little lot. Especially as three of the others also mention this “touching” incident. I’ll get the right person to investigate. You just leave that to me. ”

Megan smiled. “So do I just leave this all to you, now?”

“Well. No, not completely. You’ll need to phone him and suspend him from work. This is potentially very serious stuff, you see, Megan. We can’t have him touching anyone else, for goodness’ sake! No. You phone him in the morning and tell him to stay at home while we investigate the complaints.” Crikey, thought Tanya, I’m certainly not speaking to the guy. He’s your problem, Megan – you phone him!

“Okay. I’ll call him.” Megan said. “But what shall I say?”

Megan breathed heavily, swallowing any sign that Megan was beginning to irritate her now. “Just tell him there have been a number of complaints received from people on the CPD event last week, and he’s suspended on full pay while we investigate. You don’t have to answer any of his questions – just tell him you’ll write to him and the letter will give him all the details.”

Megan nodded. That sounded manageable if she didn’t have to look at him at the same time. “Okay. I’ll call him at 8.15 in the morning. He shouldn’t have left home yet.”

“Good.”

Megan got to her feet, and stepped towards the office door. “I really appreciate this, Tanya. Its so handy having the Head of HR just down the corridor. ”

Tanya forced a smile. “No problem.” she said, and got up to show Megan out. “Let me know when the deed is done, and I’ll send you the letter.” she said.

As the door closed, Tanya sighed. Greg Preston: another bloody headache, she thought to herself.

 

 

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