Half a Person

In this week’s module of his Success Miracles program, Dr Brett Rammstein is talking about negative thought energy. Saying how true success only comes from mastery of the self, and the best way to achieve this is by catching negative thoughts when they appear and releasing them.

Catch and release. Catch and release.

Which is all well and good, but if this bus doesn’t get moving soon I’m going to murder someone.

Behind me are two prime candidates, students, bleating on about some coursework assignment they’re finding tricky. Like either of them have any idea what real hard work is all about. I turn the volume up on my iPod and try to drown them out. Try to drown out the negative thoughts as well, right Dr Brett?

The endless chain-gang of buses inches its way up Oxford Road. Just like it has done every morning for the past month. Road works. Again. The busiest bus route in Europe down to one lousy lane. You ask me it’s a total fucking joke.

So why aren’t I laughing?

At my stop I get up, eyeballing the students as I head down the stairwell. The look says, You don’t have a fucking clue. It says, You’re a couple of losers. Neither of them even notice.

I jump off the bus and head up Portland Street, flipping my collar against the wind and quickening my pace through the usual procession of dawdling bastards. The walking dead. Walking like morons. Walking like they’ve got nowhere to go today. Well, if that’s the case, get out my way so I can go earn money. Muppets.

Catch and release. Catch and release.

I take a left into China Town and end up doing that stupid side-step dance with a woman coming the other way. She’s a typical middle-management sow, all power suit and face like a slapped arse. That’s not to say I wouldn’t. After a few beers anyway. She tuts as we brush against each other and I mutter, sorry. After we’ve passed I mutter, stupid bitch.

As I get to my building Dr Brett is talking about high-impact success triggers. Whatever they are. I guess I’ll find out later. It’s time to go to work. I switch off my iPod and swipe myself in, nodding hello to the security guard on my way to the lift. I think they call this one Sidney, but I don’t risk it. Sidney or Jerome. Or Leroy. They all look the same when you don’t give a shit. I call the lift and step inside, checking my hair in the mirror as the doors shut behind me.

My Rolex says it’s just after nine. Milner Employment doesn’t open until ten on account of most of our clients being unemployed duds who can’t get out of bed, but I like to be early. Like to be a few coffees down when the plebs arrive.

The lift doors open to reveal Jacinta’s pretty face. Or rather, it would be pretty if she ever cracked a smile in her entire life. ‘Morning babe,’ I say, giving her a wink. ‘Any calls for me?’

She gives me the usual look, like I’m a piece of shit. Like I’m a piece of shit she wants to bone. ‘It’s not even half eight,’ she says.

‘Well, if I get any calls put them through yeah?’ I give her the famous Bannerman smirk before heading for my desk at the far side of the office. I’m the first here as usual so I check myself out in the full-length mirror that runs down the internal wall, suit and tie combo: on point. Grey on grey. Nice.

Still, if it was my decision we’d lose the mirror. Replace it with some contemporary art or some shit. I keep telling Jonathan how dated it looks, how we need to get with the times, but Stanley likes it. He reckons it makes the place look twice as big, which makes it look twice as important. I’m not sure who’s falling for that one.

Stanley Bastard Milner.

Dear old daddy-in-law.

My reflection scowls at the thought of him.

Everyone said I was mad to get involved with the boss's daughter, but when you’ve been working at the same place since you left school and nothing’s changed, you can’t help but look for avenues. Five years ago marrying Amanda looked like the perfect avenue. My fast track to promotion. Faster than you can say private office, faster than you can say expense account. Only none of that happened. The thing with Stanley Milner is he likes people to need him, likes to be top dog. The problem is most of the time he is.

And that’s not to say I don’t love Amanda because I do. Most of the time anyway. Plus, she was hot when I met her. Really hot. She still can be when she puts her mind to it. Dr Brett says you become the person you decide to be, and when you’re up to your nuts in the boss’s little princess, you can’t help but think you’ve made it.

‘Hey, hey.’ Chris appears at the far side of the office. I watch as he walks over and makes a show of taking off his jacket. It looks new. It looks expensive.

‘All right Chris. How was the stag do?’

Chris looks at me. His eyes are tired and glassy, like they’ve seen way too much in the past forty-eight hours. ‘It was mental mate,’ he grins. ‘Proper messy. That ching ya got us was awesome.’

I scowl at him, ‘All right, mouth, you trying to get me sacked?’

‘Calm down, there’s no one else here,’ Chris sniffs. ‘And who’s going to care? Everyone likes a sniff in this place.’

‘That’s not the point.’ I straighten my tie and stare at Chris until he looks at the floor. Can’t let him get full of himself.

Little shit.

Twenty-one and only been working here five minutes, but he’s already on the same salary as me. I know this because Mel let it slip when I took her for a lunchtime drink a few months back. It made me want to scream, made me want to drag the skinny prick off his chair and shove a stapler down his throat. I didn’t do that. But I did tell Mel and Jacinta that I’d accidentally caught sight of him in the bathrooms. Micro penis. Shame for him really.

‘You don’t have any stuff on you now do ya?’ Chris whispers, minding himself.

Ha. Got him.

‘Fucking hell, man. It’s Monday morning.’

‘Yeah, but I’ve hardly slept. I’ll be a zombie all day if I don’t get a little pick me up.’

I puff my cheeks out and shake my head. The full sorry-I-can’t-help routine. What he doesn’t know is I’ve got at least three grams of Columbia’s finest locked in the drawer by my left knee. For now that’s where it's staying. ‘All out till Friday pal. You’ll just have to nail the coffee.’

Chris nods and turns his computer on. I watch as it grinds into life, illuminating his miserable face and making him look even more pathetic than usual. I didn’t think that was possible.

I switch on my own PC and do Kegel-exercises while I wait, clenching my pelvic floor muscles twenty times, holding for five. You do this three times a day you get bigger erections and you last longer in bed. I’ve got to fourteen by the time my screen loads. The state of the computers in here.

I keep up the Kegel-exercises as I click open my emails, deleting most without even opening them. Most of it is junk I signed up for to get a free e-book. The sort of thing that promises so much and delivers so little: How to build lean muscle by doing fuck all and eating shit. And now you’re on a database with your email address selling to the highest bidder twenty-times a day.

I click out my emails and onto the office intranet. I see they’ve assigned me four new cases. All graduates. Fresh blood. That’s a good thing. Means they’ll take any old shit as long as I present it the right way. And I’m good at that. I’m really good at that.

Dr Brett says if you want to be truly successful in life the first step is to love yourself. He says there’s no shame in putting yourself first and that it’s important to practise self-love on a daily basis. What he means by that is look after yourself and fuck the rest.

Now that’s a mantra I can live by.

My first appointment isn’t until ten-thirty so for the next few hours I browse online, get coffee, flirt with Mel when she gets in. Mainly I enjoy watching Chris getting more distressed and sweaty. At around quarter to eleven Jonathan arrives in his usual explosion of noise and energy, sending pens and paper flying. ‘Hey guys. Chris, Kyle,’ he shouts across the room. ‘Good weekends?’

‘Awesome thanks mate,’ I say. Chris waves. He lost the will to talk around nine-thirty.

‘Excellenté,’ Jonathan says, giving the accent a French flourish. It's like, he’s a prick, but he’s my prick. He stops by my desk for a moment, gets serious. ‘Listen Kyle, I need to see you this morning. Do you have five minutes once I’m settled?’

I’m already one step ahead of this. Hence the three grams in my drawer. ‘Yes mate. No problemo.’ I don’t do an accent.

‘Just check with Jacinta first, make sure I’m not with anyone. Right, best dash.’ With that he disappears into his office, letting the door slam shut behind him.

Everyone likes a sniff in this place.

He’s not wrong. That’s the world of recruitment for you. It’s a dog-eat-dog-snort-shit-fuck-dog-world and you play the game or get slung out for the vultures. Same as in life.

Look after yourself and fuck the rest.

Mel walks over and sits on my desk, letting her skirt ride all the way up her thigh. ‘You busy today sweetie?’

‘Does it look like it?’

‘It never looks like it.’

I give her my best smirk, clocking Chris is watching. ‘You see babe, that’s the key. Make it look easy.’

She giggles and hits me on the arm. Her perfume hits harder. ‘Well, if you aren’t busy come play with me. I’m weally, weally bored.’ She says it in that little girl voice. Classic move.

‘Later,’ I tell her. ‘I’ve got to pop in and see Jonathan.’

‘Aw, you’re no fun.’ She hits me again before wandering back to her office. I watch her go all the way then turn back to Chris. I mouth nice arse at him but he just shakes his head and goes back to his PC. Kids today. Perhaps he has got a micro penis. It would explain a lot.

‘Right, I’m popping in to see Jonathan,’ I tell Chris a little later. ‘I shouldn’t be long but if my half-ten arrives don’t let them leave.’

Chris smiles, nods. ‘No worries.’

‘And don’t you dare steal them,’ I tell him. I sound like I’m joking but my eyes say, Don’t fuck with me.

‘Don’t worry your commission’s safe.’

I unlock my drawer and palm the baggy of coke. Everyone might like a sniff, but there’s a big difference between someone enjoying a few lines at the weekend and the person supplying those lines. The difference being about twenty years.

I go to the front desk and check in with Jacinta. She’s talking to some scruffy-looking muppet who’s droning on about wanting a job that’s worthwhile and fulfilling but also pays well.

Don’t we all pal.

More than ever. The three G’s I’m about to sell to Jonathan will make me just short of a ton, and that’s a godsend right now because money’s tight. It always is. In his Financial Freedom program Dr Brett explains that the key is to pay all your bills on time. Then from what’s left, you save ten percent, invest ten percent and spend ten percent. He also says you should give ten percent to charity but these success gurus can talk a lot of hippie shit sometimes. What he doesn’t suggest is spending your full pay cheque every single month on nights out and gadgets. But the way I see it, there’ll be plenty of time for saving and all that boring shit once I hit thirty.

I sigh, trying to get Jacinta’s attention. The scruff is now telling Jacinta how depressed he’s been since he lost his job. Well, boo-fucking-hoo. Go kill yourself, do us all a favour.

‘Hey babe, you got a second?’ I ask, butting in.

Jacinta turns and stares at me. ‘I’m dealing with someone.’ She does that annoying thing with her voice, making it sound like a question. It makes me want to spit.

‘Well, this is important?’ I tell her.

She smiles at the scruff. ‘Excuse me a second, I do apologise.’ Then, to me, ‘What is it Kyle?’ I get a smile too but only for the scruff’s benefit. It’s got fuck you written all over it.

‘Jonathan has asked me to pop in and see him. That cool?’

‘He’s got an important conference call this morning. I’m not sure he’s free.’

‘Well, how about you check?’ I say, as friendly as possible. We can all do the passive-aggressive shit sweetheart.

Jacinta thinks about it a few seconds before picking up the phone and hitting hash. I watch her as she winds the phone cord around her finger. She’d be a real catch if only she’d relax a little. Girls like Jacinta, they make life difficult for themselves but it’s all bullshit. She can pretend she’s some feminist freedom fighter all she wants, but if some Man United player gave her the nod she’d be on her knees in the nearest disabled toilet quicker than you can say Sylvia Plath.

Finally, I hear Jonathan’s voice on the line. ‘Hey Jac, all good?’

‘Hi. I’ve got Kyle here. He says you wanted to see him.’ She waits a moment. ‘He says you can go straight in.’

‘Cheers sweetie.’

I leave Jonathan’s office twenty minutes later with a nice wad of twenties in my back pocket and a fire in my head courtesy of a cheeky line. Well, he offered, it’d be rude not too. I get back to my desk in time to see my ten-thirty arrive. Poor shmuck. As I thought, he’s a typical university graduate. Easy pickings.

Do you have any relevant work experience?

No problem at all matey.

Any particular roles you have in mind?

No worries squire.

Happy to take the first shitty job I find you?

Course you fucking are.

I place him in a call-centre in Piccadilly, tell him it’ll be the making of him, tell him he’ll love the employee benefits. That’s if you class working in a windowless room and having your toilet breaks monitored as benefits. By the time he’s realised it’ll be too late, I’ll have my commission.

Look after yourself and fuck the rest.

Yes, a good mantra to live by.