Swings and Roundabouts

Jimmy was nervous about his new job.
He’d always found first days difficult.
He over-thought everything.
He analysed every single thing he did and everything he saw.
And this day was no different.
He did everything he possibly could to make sure it ran smoothly.
He polished his shoes.
He bought a brand new suit and got it pressed. Twice.
He styled his hair three times and settled on the side parting.
He wore his Granddad’s lucky cufflinks.
He tied his tie in a classy Windsor knot.
He ate nothing spillable for breakfast.
He got a taxi to the office two hours early and waited patiently.
When his new colleagues arrived, he shook every hand.
No hugs.
He smiled widely, but not too widely.
He limited his small talk.
He kept his questions friendly, but professional.
He repeated everyone’s names to commit them to memory.
He warmed to them straight away:
They kept eye-contact in a way he’d never experienced before.
They were polite, but didn’t talk too much.
They seemed focused on work.
It was refreshing.
He was given few tasks so diligently read up on the organisation.
He ate lunch alone, but looked happy doing so.
He signed himself up for the softball team and played down his throwing arm.
He offered to make drinks, but everyone politely declined.
He sent a jolly company-wide email thanking everyone for a nice day.
He limited the number of jokes to two.
He said goodbye to everyone on the way out:
The cleaner, his team, the receptionists, the CEO.
He was pleased with his performance.
When his wife met him for a celebratory drink
And told him his penis was hanging out of his broken flies,
He felt embarrassed,
But pleased he’d finally managed to have at least one good day at work.

© Carl Burkitt 2017

Brief by Jason Mathias: “I started a new job the other day. They gave me £5.00 and said ‘do something good with it and present back next week’. Can you write me a story about starting a new job for me to read out and I’ll donate the fiver to you.”

This piece was written as a part of a fundraising project for Rethink Mental Illness, where I’m inviting people to set me any writing brief in exchange for donations.

Read all of the details here and If you’d like to get involved, email ca.burkitt@gmail.com or Tweet @CarlBurkitt!

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