Magazine road

After a while, the company left the country. Pulled out, reversed its financial boat and went full throttle over the waves of escape from the doomed Irish market. This is how I see them, on a yacht, or a ship, or some kind of super commercial freighter with a scrawny European name and a bright flag and lads in orange jumpsuits shaking their head at the coast of dreams that became their broke nightmare. They must have been thinking about all that promise and hope they had. Like them two lads that started one day and were going to change everything. Take over the Midlands Campaign, promote the region, grow the book, enlarge the territory, expand the reach. This was big, these guys had serious experience and credentials. This was what we’ve been waiting for. Except one lad couldn’t drive and the other had a fucked up Insignia that he couldn’t afford to fix. But this was ok. Let’s work towards solution based goals. Ideas like: Ask Micky to drive them around, sure isn’t that why we gave him the car, and he’s doing shag all anyway.

            I met them outside the designated hotel in Athlone. Expecting suits, sophisticated tablets, expensive ties and serious aftershave. Clean cut lads with a killer instinct and a desire to win. They struggled around the corner and the first fella had a three day stubble and thick glasses and a bag full of cigarette papers and tobacco and bottled tap water. He had habit of looking at the ground when he talked and explaining everything in rapid detail. The market was quiet. The customers were awkward. The product was poor. The company had such an awful wank of a name that half the public couldn’t even pronounce it. And the management were awful. The weather was dodgy. The walking was killing him. And they wouldn’t pay for buses and trains. And he needed a toilet. And herself at home had his head bushted about the price of schoolbooks and fuck this. The other lad was tall, quiet, black jeans, torn shoes, four kids, and no interest in the job. You could tell by the way he sat on the wall and worked hard scrolling through the phone. Half his day’s wages was already gone between the train down and lunch and it was nearly time to go home and there was no hope of commission, and did I know anyone looking to buy a broke down Insignia?

            This was great, the promised team, the life changing salary, the head hunted prize. The sun was laughing as we went over the speed bumps on Magazine road. Went around by Connaught Street and down O’Connell. Waved at the Romanian lad playing accordion at the roundabout. He was probably making more money than me today. The bridge felt uncertain, like it might break half way across and we’d fall in bonnet first and that’d be the end of the great campaign and sure who’d take over then? No Micky to drive anyone around, and the car in the river, and the two lads drenched wet on the way home on the train and still no sales. Ring ring, went the phone, looking for updates, numbers, progress. How’d you get on with the guys, Mick, exciting times ahead….

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Rained off site

They rang and said they wanted the company car back but they’d give me a van instead. Wouldn’t you love a van? No, says I, what the fuck am I going to do with a van? 

–  You’ll figure it out.  

            Later, it was time to collect my team. Romania’s finest was waiting, patiently playing Backgammon on her phone and no interest in going working at all. She sat in, asked: ‘What is this?’ 

            ‘It’s a van.’ 

            ‘A van? Where is car?’ 

            ‘They took it back.’ 

            ‘Why? This is no good.’ She pulled down the flap yoke on the passenger side, freaked and said: ‘No mirror to see my lipstick??’ 

            ‘I know it’s a tragedy.’ 

            ‘We don’t need a van for this job…’ 

            ‘We do now.’ 

            ‘Where do we go today?’ 

            ‘We’ll chance Portharlington.’ 

            We got there about an hour later. After Moate, through Tullamore, bypassed Edenderry and straight in, just on time to be two and half hours late. Early sales are key, they say. Crucial to get ahead, can do attitude. We were tired after the drive and figured twas time to get the lunch. Raided the local Centra for chips, rolls and diet coke and found a park somewhere in the middle of the town. There was grass and kids and trees and a bench with a bin beside it. She opened up her roll, said: ‘What is doing Bitcoin?’

            ‘What’s it doin?’ 

            ‘Yes, what is doin it?’

            ‘I don’t know. Goin up, or down….

            ‘It’s goin to crash. The chart says so.’

            ‘The chart?’

            ‘Technical Analysis. It will go to Zero. And then I will be billionaire.’

            ‘I’m not sure that’s how them things works….’

            Wide eyes, with: ‘Of course. You don’t know how to short cryptocurrency…?’

            ‘No. And I’m probably better off too.’

            ‘You buy the bet token to say it will dive and then…whoosh. It goes down, and my token goes up, and we buy Lamborghini. No more bullshit vans with no lipstick mirrors…’

            There was a lad smoking on a bench across the way, a smell like burnt grass or strong green tea. The wind swept light, like angels made of soft moisture, and the sun was sneaking down, a lazy descent into the bruised midlands twilight. And there wasn’t a sale in sight. No lucky phone calls, nobody shouting across the street begging to give us business. Not a hope of a populated text to management later with any other figure than zero and we weren’t in the Bitcoin Business. It wasn’t the get rich going broke sort of scheme we were on. The best thing to do was take another bite of the chicken roll and hope something might happen. A gravitational change in fate, a slip into a parallel reality where everything made perfect sense and we could hit a moment of calm clarity that didn’t involve work. Your man finished the cigarette and got up and walked off. The first hint of rain fell like a phantom arrow, bounced off my wrist, and waited for the army of drops to follow. Sure this was no good, poor working conditions, unsafe, rained off site.

            ‘I don’t want to get drowned wet like a dog like last time.’ She said. ‘I got flu. For this bullshit? No thank you, sir. Puh. I’m not silly slave for big money companies.’

            ‘Sure we’ll sit in the van for a while and if it gets too bad we’ll tip back to Athlone again and see is the weather any better there.’

            ‘Sounding good. I’ll show you rich methods while we wait. Big money, oh my god, the future is so exciting….whoosh….’

The Left Bank.

One day the woman in the bank said: ‘Why don’t you have a debit card?’

         ‘I don’t want one.’

         ‘Wouldn’t it be handy?’

         ‘How so?’

         ‘You wouldn’t have to come in here any time you need money. You could just get it at the ATM.’

         ‘Wouldn’t you be out of a job then?’

         She laughed, haughty, said: ‘Oh no, don’t worry, we’ve plenty to do.’

         ‘Still, you’re grand.’

         She seemed upset. Filled out the forms, went for the cash, printed the receipt, asked me to sign it. She took the biro back like I might steal it and threw it in the drawer. There was a bit of a queue now. A farmer with a chequebook, some lad with a bag of coins and a woman with a wired child. All held up by the lad that could have just gone to the ATM.

         Next week, she asked the same thing. And will she fill out the form?

         I told her no, you’re grand. I like cash. I know where I am, then. Them cards, sure who knows? She shook her head, filled out the forms, printed the receipt, counted the cash like she hated it. Some lad behind me was waiting to make a lodgement and another woman working there asked him why he doesn’t just use the new fancy machine in the corner. Sure ya can lodge like that now, don’t ya know? Just use your card, put in your pin, and get the receipt. No need to queue at all. No need to bother the staff, sure we’re busy.

         The following week they were in a hurry because the hours were reduced. There was a man at the counter wondering if he could lodge money into his daughter’s account. And she was in Dublin, and he was in Mayo, and how would that work? They asked him if he had online banking and he said no, not really. They had a tablet alright, but he didn’t use it much. The woman there explained all the benefits of banking on the internet and how he could do all this at home, and there was no need to come in anymore, and all he needed was the computer and a few passwords and ask the daughter the next time and she’ll set it up for him. Sound, he said, and then it was my turn to take out the cash. Well, she said, eye roll, will we get you set up with a debit card or what?

         Go on, so.

         And it arrived a week later, and it was grand, and it was pure handy like she said and I must thank her when I see her again but I don’t go to the bank much anymore. And the farmer with the cheques probably doesn’t go either, and the other man with the daughter in Dublin, or the woman with the kid, or the fella with the bags of coins. Sure, there’s no point anyway cos the bank is closed since cos there’s no need for anyone to work there anymore cos it’s all so handy now.

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