Coffee Break Read – The Contract

In the skinny, cluttered office, Gribble looked around for a seat. He found no surface that wasn’t covered with paper. “Why do you have so much paperwork? Surely most of your accounts and stuff could be done on the computer.”
“It could, if the University was not averse to The Motherboard knowing all our business. But we aren’t here to discuss my conditions of employment, it’s the conditions under which you employ your geeks that are in dispute.”
“Dispute?” Gribble pushed out his lip in a show of boyish petulance, before he remembered that the Bursar was not of an ilk to be cajoled or seduced by the likes of him. Instead he hunched a shoulder. “Where do I sign?”
“I thought you might see sense,” her smile was just on the acceptable side of smug. But only just.
Scrabbling about in the teetering pile of paper on the windowsill, she dragged out a sizeable parchment and unfolded it.
“You sign here, here, here and here.”
Gribble pulled a pen out of his pocket and signed as indicated. The Bursar inserted the signed document in a slot in the wall and after a few seconds a disembodied voice filled the air.
“Contract duly witnessed.” The unwieldy parchment slowly reversed out of the slot to fall unnoticed to the floor.
Gribble eyed the Bursar.
“Right. When do I get my geek?”
“Tomorrow morning.” He opened his mouth to argue, then his face caught up with his brain and he snapped his teeth together. “Good thinking. Now cut along. I’ve got work to do.” The Bursar waved a wrinkled hand in dismissal.
Even an ego as colossal as Gribble’s recognised the pointlessness of arguing with a tetchy female colleague who was not only senior to him in the University hierarchy, but who also disliked him quite a lot. He left the dusty confines of the office, shutting the door behind him with exaggerated care before stomping along the disorienting curve of the corridor cursing and kicking random pieces of furniture.
Behind him, the Bursar listened to muffled swearing and assorted crashes. The smile that spread across her face made her look like a crocodile that smells fresh meat. “You, my temperamental young colleague, ain’t seen nothing yet.” She returned to her figures, obscurely comforted by the hard lesson Gribble was about to be taught.

From Gribble’s Geek by Jane Jago which is only 0.99 to buy throughout November.

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