I get a nosebleed if I’m still on the desk after five o’clock. I was the last person here and rushing to put on my sports kit and get the hell out when someone else’s line rang. Do not ask for whom the phone rings: it rings for thee.
As a relative newbie here at Salvation Bank, I feel no obligation generally to answer someone else’s incoming — especially when there’s no one around to disapprove of my chronic deficiency in team spirit. A call ringing off the hook, though, is
Ideally, the caller at this time of day is a wife checking whether her husband, whom she suspects of adultery, has left yet and once it’s established he’s enjoying
More often than not though, the call one dreads is someone else’s client phoning in with a complicated trade query (it will never be one of mine because I never have any orders).
Invariably, the request necessitates chasing up the back office, (who, if they have anything about them, have long since scarpered to avoid precisely this kind of situation), painstaking verification and amendment of the bargain in a booking system and then waiting around interminably to find out if the amended confirmation of the transaction has been resent.
…until the following morning. I opened my inbox and sitting there like an unexploded bomb was an email from Dolores! I gave my eyes a rub. From Dolores! I gave my cheeks a few slaps. Looked again. Yes, this was definitely an email from Dolores.
A decade ago we had worked together. She had been a desk secretary and then ‘promoted’ to my trading assistant (no tittering at the back, there). She had chestnut locks, bee-stung lips and long legs but, of course, I was too professional to notice these things. At first. (I said, no tittering).
An easy familiarity developed between us, then a mutual respect and affection as the comfort of spending 50 hours beside someone every week took hold.
At that stage in my life I only thought about sex when I wasn’t getting orders, but the problem then — as now — was that I didn’t get many orders.
I taught Dolores everything I knew about stocks, and 10 minutes later I began to instruct her in the mysteries of human existence. Dolores started helping me out in other areas of my life and sometimes our social interaction took place outside of the workplace and outside of the working day and then the spaces in which this interaction unfolded became more confined and shrank inexorably until there was no space between us at all.
Amorous encounters of diminished proximity
I taught her some elementary Latin and gave practical demonstrations. Riverdancing — of the horizontal variety — became a regular feature of these encounters some of which were hosted, unwittingly, by our erstwhile employers.
The relationship did not outlast co-worker status. The Brokerage So Designed So That Normal Things Could Not Happen was, as brokerages went, hopeless. But I guess you could say, as the song goes, we found love in a hopeless place.
It went the way of all things and our paths, like two roads in a yellow wood, diverged. Hips that passed in the night. I’m not sure which of us took the road less travelled but our journeys coincided again last week with a simple email: “Was that you? It’s me.”
What were the chances of a) me answering the phone and b) her being on the end of it?
Some brief correspondence established the narrative of the intervening years. She was happy and fulfilled. Well, opposites attract, I suppose. She was on the buy-side now, enjoying her job and people called her to ingratiate themselves. She was in a functional relationship. She knew no one close to her who had died or contracted a terminal illness. She was not pursued by debt collectors. All of this information was imparted without any irony I could detect.
Curiosity got the better of us both and we agreed to meet for a lunchtime coffee which I escalated into a glass of wine at the last minute — just in case, you know. I turned up early and drank two glasses before she arrived so that I might seem more animated than I am most of the time.
Dolores looked very attractive still, with any decline barely discernible. That’s what the buy-side does for you, I speculated, although discontinuing relations with me might also have rejuvenated her. About me, she was more guarded: “You have not changed one bit”.
I only realised afterwards this was probably a lament and an insult. Twenty minutes in, I was becoming optimistic. She could be a client perhaps, I thought, and I could feel those embers being stoked again. It was only a matter of time before lambent flames of passion would be licking our legs beneath the table.
And then she told me why she was happy: “I found God.”
For the Satanic
“Are you sure you’re not dyslexic and you didn’t just lose and then find your dog?” I asked.
Dolores was quite sure. She met her new boyfriend at church. She’ll never see me there unless I’m stealing lead from the roof and fall through a stained glass window.
I would believe in God if he would only give me a clear sign — like an order.