Is that spinach in her teeth? I squint, looking closer when I realise she’s glaring at me. I panic, look down. I’ve read somewhere that you should never look a predator in the eye. Don’t poke the bear or something. Bears. Why am I thinking about bears? Concentrate. I squirm uncomfortably in my chair, trying to get the feeling back into my legs. We have been in here for hours and I’m so tired. I can’t think straight, my eyes hurt, my back aches. I mean, seriously, who holds a ‘Creative Meeting’ on a Friday afternoon? We should be down the pub bonding over bottles of Becks. I look around the boardroom. We are at breaking point, too much work, too much pressure. Someone will either get signed off with stress or called into her office for a “little chat”. Like ripping a plaster off, it’s painful but mercifully short. I joined the ad agency straight from Uni, bright eyed, bushy tailed, like a puppy eager to learn new tricks. 5 years on, I’m tired and so run down that if I was a dog, I swear I’d have mange.
6.25pm! Really? This meeting is a waste of time but since she returned from maternity leave she’s been desperate to prove herself. I get it, I do. But I can see it in her eyes. She’s tired, angry and fraught. Yesterday I had found her in the ladies crying. I’d offered words of comfort, female solidarity and all that, but she’d snapped at me to get back to work. She’s been a right cow since. She glares at me now as if sensing my mind is wandering. It’s hot in here. This room feels like an oven, slowly baking us like rotisserie chickens. Chicken. God, I’m hungry! I look longingly at the Crunchie bars in the middle of the table. “Thank Crunchie, it’s Friday” she’d laughed but was cheesed off when no-one else was old enough to remember that advert. I daren’t eat one, what if she asks a question and I have chocolate over my teeth and a mouthful of honeycomb?
Last week I found out she’d passed one of my ideas off as her own! I’m fed up of having my work stolen. No promotion, no pay rise, working harder for the same money. This was not how it was supposed to be but a steady income and that perpetual promise of promotion has made me comfortable. Too comfortable. I’ve lost my drive but what to do next? I can’t just look for something else can I? Can I? I could temp? Go travelling? Working 70 hour weeks means no life so I have savings. “I quit!” I realise. I’ve finally seen the light and it’s not an overhead, migraine inducing florescent strip. “A.O.B” she asks? Nope, you’ve sucked me dry but you know what? I’m no longer tired! As I leave, the Crunchies lay melting in the middle of the table.