… there are no subtitles in this scene.
It’s rather unnerving to get off the train at Kings Cross and realise that you are at that moment surrounded by more people, walking more quickly, than you have seen in total all week. And that you’re not supposed to smile at them. Still the shock of our return back to ‘civilisation’ had already been eased by the woman who got on at Darlington and filled the unforgiving minutes until our arrival at London with a pretty much non-stop series of phone calls (the commuter death stare went phut after the first decent night’s sleep followed by days spent happily gazing at scenery. Hard to summon up the requisite steely glare).
During the next few hours we were party to one half of some fairly sensitive HR topics – the mystery of Darren’s resignation and why he was no longer to be allowed to use the health club, how Liz’s grievance was going to be dealt with and finally, and bafflingly, how the hapless Steve was going to have to be encouraged to ‘bite a chunk off the elephant’. (I swear I’m not making this up). True, in the interests of confidentiality, she was speaking in the special coded gibberish known as management speak (apart from the moment when she pointed out that she was proud of herself that she didn’t throw any punches, or indeed give anyone a slap. Is this how modern HR is done?). Unfortunately, so elastic and forgiving is the English language, we were well able to decode such nonsense as ‘sometimes one has to be instructional towards people’, ‘we must encourage them to manage through these challenges appropriately’ and ‘I told her to ask herself whether these behaviours were the sorts of behaviours that would afford a positive outcome.’
And so we listened in appalled fascination as the stories unfolded before us. Darren, it seems, is under investigation. Liz will be getting a modest payrise despite those non-positive behaviours and Steve? Steve will be encouraged to keep an on-going list and sometimes make it a medium priority and sometimes a top one.
As to the elephant, no more was said. Perhaps because she had realised it was in the room?