Grovel Greg, Grovel Part 1

Greg, a shy and naive 19 year-old, decides to take his chances in the big city. He must pitch his wits against racism, unemployment, and people who want to take advantage of his inexperience. But things don’t go well, and by the Autumn, he has disappeared from the face of the Earth. Or has he? Parts 1 and 2 are set in 1976. In Part 3, set in the present day, his sister sets out to discover what really happened. One chapter will be published on Movellas each day, until the story reaches its gripping conclusion.

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4. Trouble at the Office

Later that week..............

 

Greg can hear Mr Oames talking to a Director of the company in his office. Mr Oames's office is very near to Greg's desk, and if the door is left ajar, as it is today, it is impossible for Greg not to hear most of the conversation therein. Today's conversation sounds friendly enough, but it is clear that there is some underlying concern of a commercial nature. 'Those sorts of companies will soon be automated'......'will be impossible to compete'.........'reduced overheads' are three of the snippets Greg has heard. Greg starts to think. 'Those sorts of companies' could be a reference to those loan companies that place brash ads in the tabloids, apparently offering good deals. He is aware that those companies have always stolen some of his employer's trade, but maybe things are worse than he imagined.

            It becomes clear that that other staff in the office have been overhearing snippets of the same conversation too. Greg is always amazed by his colleagues' ability to eavesdrop, despite the greater distance from their desks to the manager's office, compared with his. Greg now hears snippets of their conversations:

            'Can't work any harder than I am now, there's only so many hours in a day' shrugs one of them........'If Oames thinks he can push me around I'll tell him where to stuff it!' says another......'Treating us like slaves' mumbles one of the old lags, who is swiftly consoled by the old chestnut: 'Never mind mate, soon be Christmas!' which is approved by loud guffaws around the office.

            In recent weeks, Greg has become increasingly irritated by some of his colleagues. Well, most of them, actually. They could all work a lot faster, but they pretend they cannot. Whilst it is true that they are not in a trade union, they do not need to be, as their jobs and their habits are protected by the very inertia of their employer itself. On its part, the employer finds it difficult to act against any particularly lazy member of staff, because if it does, this leads to a retaliatory increase in laziness from all the other staff. What has irritated Greg today is the failure of his colleagues to understand that it is not Mr Oames who is pushing for change, it is the owners of the company- and they themselves are driven by the market in which their company operates. Oames is merely placed there by the Directors to do the dirty work. Greg tries to explain this to one of his colleagues, but she insists that Mr Oames is a 'miserable old git'. After this, Greg decides not to get dragged in to this type of discussion again. It is out of his hands, anyway. He must work hard and keep his nose clean. He cannot understand all this laziness, but ‘there you go’. Yes, he would like more holidays, and flexible working hours, and a  share of the profits of his toil, but he knows it will never be. A reliable and cheap bus service to whisk him home every night would be nice too: Greg, in principle, is in favour of a socialist society. But he cannot see how it could ever really work when people are so darn lazy. In his experience, socialism in practice means squeezing as much dough out of your employer in return for as little work as possible.

                         

Wednesday, 19th November 1975

Damp, miserable day. Not cold though. Colleagues particularly stupid today. Marjorie - (fat old barrage balloon) - gets on my wick - and Stan - one of those old codgers whose whole life is dedicated to being as unhelpful as possible - yet likes to create this impression that he's not like that at all - most irritating - never mind - soon be Christmas as they say.

PS all came from over-hearing Oames + Deakins talking about overheads - don't know what the staff are worrying about - nothing ever happens anyway.

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