“Must feed the cattle.” Brenda de la Rue, Dave Starling’s boss’s boss was mumbling to herself in the lift.
“I’m sorry?” Justina Goose thought the comment might be important and felt the need to respond.
“What do you want?” snapped Brenda.
“You said something. I thought it might be directed at me. Never mind.”
“I did no such thing!”
“You said something that sounded like ‘feed the cattle’.”
“Why would I say that, don’t be absurd.”
“Don’t mind Brenda, she talks to herself quite a lot. It’s other people that she struggles to communicate with.”
Brenda shrieked a little at the realisation that there was a third person in the lift. She looked around to see Fiona Foil, Head of HR, smiling at her.
“What are you doing, hiding there?”
“The same thing as you, but without the craziness. I’m going up to level 17 in the lift, like a normal person.”
“Well I doubt that. But it saves me coming to see you to report this incident, since you are a prime witness to the insult I have just received.”
“I am. And you did.”
“Say ‘Must feed the cattle’.”
Brenda puffed herself up. “I don’t know how either of you are accessing my inner thoughts, but I am warning you now that it has to stop. Its an invasion of privacy, that’s what it is. And if you do it again I’ll have the law onto you. Both of you!”
“Do you own cattle?” Justina asked, enjoying the situation a little too much.
“Of course not. Why would I want all of the fur and gristle and farting when I can just buy the good bits from Woolworths?”
“She wasn’t referring to beef.” Fiona added, “When she says cattle she usually means her staff. i.e. you.”
“Nonsense!” protested Brenda, annoyed that Fiona understood her so well.
“Feed the cattle probably means doing a town hall meeting or sending an encouraging email that she doesn’t mean a word of.”
Brenda turned to face Fiona. “Stop telling the livestock what goes on here. If they find out it’s not a petting zoo after all they might work out what happens in the big shed that nobody comes back from. Also known as the HR department.”
Justina felt it had suddenly all got a bit too real. She also couldn’t understand how it could take five minutes for a lift to go up three floor. Fortunately at that moment the lift doors opened and Justina and Fiona got out, leaving Brenda to continue on mumbling to herself.
“Do you know what she calls the top developers?” Fiona asked.
“Because they are usually massively overweight and they get massaged all the time. But we still eat them in the end.”
“You know what?” Justina said, looking straight into the camera. “This was a lot funnier when it came up in the pub yesterday.”
And she was right.
Flux Larson, Dave’s boss, was sat at his desk pretending to read an email. Behind him, Dave was secretly writing some code and ignoring all of the management things that he was supposed to be doing, while Chris Tackle, lead developer, was concentrating hard on this week’s footy tipping and Barry McGuigan was playing with a piece of string. Behind them, Penelope Crank was chatting to Maddy Shovel, Brenda’s assistant.
“Well, that’s nearly it Maddy. Next Tuesday at 3pm, when the horses with the little men on their backs start running, the whole country shuts down.”
“Really? This is my first year here. How long does it shut down for?”
“One thousand nine hundred and thirty eight hours. Or just less than eighty-one days. Not a bloody thing will happen between donkey day and Australia Day on 26th January. It’s fucking marvellous.”
Maddy looked surprised. “Are you sure? I’ve never heard this before.”
“It’s the best kept secret in the world. Summer in Sydney is absolutely brilliant.”
“Do we still have to come to work?”
“Of course you do. People will think you have some kind of problem if you are at home and you go to the pub every lunchtime to watch cricket, but if you come into work you’ll be considered perfectly normal if you go there at 11:30am on a Tuesday to make sure you get a table. And the best thing about it, is that because there will be nothing happening, that annoying voice over guy will leave us alone for the whole time.”
Justina was late getting to the town hall meeting and got ushered to a seat at the back, next to people that she didn’t know. She apologised to everyone for standing on their feet as she moved along the row, and was greeted by a blonde haired woman with a big smile and an empty seat next to her.
Justina smiled back and the stranger immediately started to talk to her.
“Windows or Linux?”
“What religion are you. Windows or Linux?”
“Will I have to move seats if I give the wrong answer?”
“Probably. I’ll certainly stop talking to you.”
Justina thought that might be a blessing.
“I’m not really a server person. More application focussed.”
“Okay, Windows or Mac then?”
“Now I feel like I have to pick a side. If I go for Windows server, but Mac desktop then I’ll look inconsistent, but I can’t really go for Windows on both. I mean its a decent platform now but it used to be such a pile of shit, I have trouble forgiving it.”
“Tell me about it. What about Linux Mac then?”
“As soon as I mention Linux people start going awk, sed, ‘kill top man, init’, and it all sounds very threatening and confusing.” Justina paused, “What religion are you?”
“Oh, I couldn’t give a fuck personally. I was just trying to see what kind of a nutter I was going to be stuck next to for the longest hour of my life.”
Justina laughed. “I think I’m going to like sitting next to you for this, whispering sarcastic comments to each other. I feel very rude though. I’m Justina Goose, what is your name?”
Justina stretched out her hand in friendship.
The IT Manager returns on 31st January 2019. Have a good one!