Brenda de la Rue pushed her way out of the lift, giving a man on crutches, who didn’t get out of the way quickly enough, the look she reserved for those she felt deserved no look at all. She was dressed in a brown tweed jacket and skirt which looked like the buttons were only one chocolate biscuit away from giving up altogether and exploding.
Brenda was, as usual, on the phone and was doing her trademark fake smile. She looked like a cartoon horse.
“Well, we need the report by Friday, and not a second later.” Brenda bellowed into her phone as she looked around the office for someone that she recognised.
She settled on a young female intern with a mop of dyed blonde hair.
“You!” shouted Brenda, moving the phone away from her ear temporarily, “Where does Dave Starling sit?”
The girl shrugged.
“Moron.” Brenda put the phone back to her ear, “No, not you Lars, but if you don’t get me my fucking report by Friday…”
An older woman helpfully interrupted “Dave is over there, by the window.” she said, pointing towards the far corner and a wall covered in sticky notes.
Brenda didn’t acknowledge her, but walked in the direction she was shown, still shouting angrily into the phone. Abruptly she hung up and sat herself down in an empty seat amongst the developers. She put on her soft, HR voice and addressed a large man in a Dilbert cartoon tee shirt. “Let me be the first to congratulate you on your promotion. I decided last week to restructure the teams and made the decision myself to make you the team leader.”
Chris Tackle took off his headphones and looked at her. “I think you are looking for Dave. He’s in the next row. He’s the one with the tie on.”
Brenda stood up and turned back to glare angrily at the blonde intern who had sent her to the wrong place, then she remembered that she was trying to be nice and put on her fake smile again.
Brenda extended a hand for Dave to shake and said “You must be Dave Starling. So nice to finally meet you. I have interrupted my busy schedule to publicly shake your hand and congratulate you on your promotion. I think it is so important that I am seen out and about, I mean that we work as a team. We are all equals after all, and everyone is important to the family that is the Amalgamated Bank.”
As Brenda was clearly making a speech to the whole area and not looking at Dave at all, Dave’s boss Flux Larson stood up and came over.
“I believe you have met Dave before Brenda.”
“He attends the monthly Operations Meeting with me and also presented at your Town Hall meeting a couple of weeks ago.”
Brenda thought all of the minions looked the same, in fact she was struggling to work out who this was that had come up to talk to her. Deciding that it didn’t really matter, and needing to make some motivational small talk quickly so she could get away from this awful place, Brenda carried on regardless.
“Such important work you and the team do here. Critical to the success of the whole bank. I was saying just the other day that without the Cloud Innovations Team I don’t know where we would be.”
Dave corrected her, “Cloud Innovations (non-core).”
“Yes, indeed. The non-core team is the beating heart of the whole organisation.”
Brenda looked around at the desks with all of their assorted clutter and the sticky notes that covered the walls. “You are part of the hot desking initiative on this floor aren’t you?”
“Of course.” answered Flux, “We love it. It’s the best thing to happen since the paperless office.”
“What about all this… stuff?”
“We put it away every night. It goes into the laptop hotels.”
“In the what?”
“Laptop hotels. See those rows of incredibly expensive looking lockers taking up all that space over there? They have little power supplies in them for people who don’t want to take their laptops home, but everyone in this team is so dedicated that we never use them, so we put all of the clutter in there at night.”
Brenda knew when she was being lied to, unless technology was involved, in which case she was never sure. Brenda had a laptop herself, which had never stayed in an expensive hotel unless Brenda was there too. Her deep knowledge of technology, gathered over decades in the industry, was also telling her that the computers she could see in this department weren’t laptops at all, but desktops.
“It’s the latest VDI technology from Citrix.” Flux explained.
Brenda made a mental note to find out what VDI stood for.
“Virtual Desktop Infrastructure.” offered Flux.
“I know what it means.” Brenda replied angrily.
“Isn’t it amazing?”
Brenda looked at the machine in front of her. “Are you telling me that this isn’t real?”
“100% indistinguishable from a real desktop, but delivered over the cloud. Quite incredible.”
Brenda had a flashback to the time she had accused the head of end user computing of lying to her in front of a large group of people, when he had claimed that she could use her phone as a torch. Technology always seemed to be several steps ahead of Brenda, and she wasn’t going to make that mistake again. This wouldn’t be the end of it, but for now she decided to let it pass.
In order to keep up the pretence of being busy, she needed to keep moving and keep sending emails and making phone calls. None of which she could do standing here with these smelly IT people.
At that moment, her phone rang. It was her hairdresser, but it was the perfect excuse to get away without shaking any more hands.
“I must get this one. Very important.” said Brenda walking away and answering her phone.
“What was that all about? Who’s getting promoted?” asked a rather angry woman with bright red hair who had been listening intently to the conversation. Penelope Crank was a blunt person at the best of times, but had an uncanny knack of getting the company out of the shit that others seemed to build careers out of getting it into in the first place.
“Dave is becoming the team leader.” replied Flux, conscious that he should probably have told the team himself at some point.
“Oh, fuck.” said Penelope, “It was bad enough taking orders from a prat like you, now the bloody summer student is going to be telling me what to do.”
Dave looked at Flux, and Flux looked at Dave.
Dave’s look said “I’m going to need your help getting the team to respect me”.
Flux’s look said “Thank fuck I don’t have to deal with this anymore. Its all your problem now.”