But Do You Want It?
I left art college in the 1990s which, unfortunately, coincided with a recession. Owing to this recession, I could’t get a job as a graphic designer. (Well I blame the recession but this failure might be because I hated graphic design.) After hanging around for as long as possible watching the Olympics, I eventually had to take a job as a desktop publisher in a small engineering company.
The boss was called Mr Cherry. He was a very tall man with black hair and a red face so his name, Mr Cherry, was quite apt. In fact his face used to get redder and redder the more I annoyed him. And it seemed that I annoyed him quite a lot.
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As part of the interview they gave me an psychometric test to complete. It was full of questions such as
Where would you prefer to live?
- in the centre of a busy bustling city
- in the middle of the deep dark woods on your own
Skilfully avoiding giving the true answers to these questions and revealing that I was an introvert with psychotic tendencies and instead choosing the obviously ‘correct’ answers I managed to secure the job. Apparently I got the highest ever score which proved I was a completely sane, affable, well balanced human being.
Mr Cherry sometimes referred to this fact when he was reprimanding me for my attitude and general bad humoured demeanour. They stopped using the test after they employed me.
Fresh from a few years surrounded by hippy, free-spirited art students, I found the transition to working in a small, commercial office in London quite difficult.
On my first day, I was left alone in the office while the rest of the company went out for lunchtime leaving drinks with my predecessor. Mr Cherry phoned me up from the pub and then said I should try smiling in future when I answered the phone. That annoyed me.
I was taught double-entry bookkeeping by Mr Cherry’s mother in law who was in her 80s. She often brought in her photo albums to show me snaps of her solo holidays to Switzerland and Austria. She was quite a nice woman and I felt very sorry for her knowing that she had to spend every Christmas Day with Mr Cherry.
Mr Cherry (who I imagine was in his late 50s but perhaps was only in his 40s) sometimes made a sad crying face and rubbed his knuckles into his eyes, telling me. ‘boo hoo’ his parents had both died so he was an orphan. This irritated me quite a lot.
A tall, dour Scottish accountant named Murdo, dropped in once a month to go through the accounts. He once brought in a natural crystal deodorant and gave it as a present to Mr Cherry’s Personal Assistant. I think he gave it to her because he liked her and wanted to protect her from harmful chemicals but she took offence thinking he meant she had a problem with personal hygiene.
CorelDraw and Solitaire
Sometimes, when I was bored, I whiled away the time creating caricatures of the designers using Paint and uploaded them to their computers as their wallpaper. Of course, they were highly entertained and amused by this. (Well that’s what they told me anyway.)
We used CorelDraw and Pagemaker. When not drawing cartoons I used to participate in the office Solitaire tournaments which lasted for days and would roll over to the next time that Mr Cherry went away on a business trip.
Mr Cherry owned the company along with another man who was just as much of a male chauvinist pig as Mr Cherry himself. They were very concerned about selling their products in Europe and we often had to stay late binding proposals with a vicious comb binding machine for him to take to Europe.
Mr Cherry and his Mobile Phone
The best trait of Mr Cherry was that he was very proud of the cutting edge new technology he owned: a huge mobile phone. He would invariably phone us from the car park to announce his imminent return to the office which would give us a four minute warning and enable us to clear the Solitaire games off our screens, put away magazines, remove our feet from the desks and generally look like we had been hard at work all the time he was away.
He always ended his telephone conversations with the word ‘Bonjour’. (Honestly, this is all true – I’m not making any of this drivel up!)
He also had a habit of shouting at me from the fire escape when I was across the road making my way to my car at 5.30pm. Of course, I ignored him as shouting from the fire escape is just rude and bad form.
It’s true to say that Mr Cherry loathed me as much as I loathed him.
Goodbye Mr Cherry
In the end we had a parting of the ways citing irreconcilable differences on the subject of overtime. (Him for it; me against.)
I’ve heard that your boss is forbidden to contact you after 6.30pm in France. I knew Europe must have some advantages.
I wonder where Mr Cherry is now – he’s probably living an ex-pat life in Spain, very red in the face; bitter and upset about Brexit.
So it was goodbye and good riddance to Mr Cherry and I then went on to work for Mr Plum – but that’s another story.