I was young once, and with that youth came all the shit that you tend to lose as you get older and more bitter. Bitter. Bitterer. Is bitterer a word? Well, it is now.
Anyway, my youth package contained a fair dose of naïvety.
I thought certain views, opinions and prejudices were a thing of the past. I thought ‘right on’ comedians like Ben Elton had blown bigotry to bits, that it didn’t exist any more.
Yes, I was that naïve once.
I was at work, punching keys behind my massive monitor, biding my time until I could get out of there for ever.
Soulless Boss appeared.
He did this sometimes, when he had a story to get off his pigeon chest. He didn’t particularly want to talk with me, he just wanted to talk at me, to rant on from Daily Mail tinted viewpoint about some fresh injustice that had befallen him.
Shit always happened to him. He asked for it.
He’d walk into a pub and the punters would take piss, he’d go out in his car and get into a road rage incident where someone would try to strangle him to death with his own seatbelt, he’d walk into a sandwich shop and someone would call him a stupid, stunted, red-faced little cunt.
Then he would march into the studio and tell me all about it, and I would nod and agree while trying not to laugh and think, ‘you deserved that, you stupid, stunted, red faced little cunt.’
So, here he was, red of face, stunted of stature, cuntish of attitude, about to tell me a fresh tale of personal outrage.
As he spoke he pushed a massive tuna sandwich into his red face. Try to imagine that fishy smell, the flakes of tuna fish spitting onto the keyboard and monitor. Imagine it.
“Here, lad, listen to this. You won’t believe it.”
“I’m listening, Soulless Boss.”
“I took my car in to be valeted at lunchtime. To that place down on Despair Street. Anyway, I nipped over the road to get a sandwich while the car was being cleaned.”
“Was it a tuna sandwich?”
“I went back after half an hour and it was finished. They’d done a good job, too, to be fair. Lovely and clean, inside and out. There’s nothing like that smell when your car’s clean, is there?”
“I don’t know. I come to work on the bus.”
So I drive away, and it’s a sunny day, and I go for my sunglasses that I keep in the glove box, and guess what? They weren’t there!”
“No. Where were they then?”
“That’s just what I wanted to find out! I keep them in the glove box, they weren’t in the glove box. I pulled over, looked everywhere. They were gone.”
Soulless Boss gave me a look. I didn’t know what it meant because his stupid, stunted, red face was full of tuna fish, so I said,
“Exactly! I whipped the motor round and went straight back to the valeting place. I went into the cabin thing where the manager was about to eat his lunch, and I said to him, I said, ‘Look here, I don’t want to make a scene but when I brought my car here to be cleaned there were a pair of good sunglasses in that glove box, and when I looked for them just now they were gone! What are you going to do about it?’ “
“How much were the sunglasses worth, Soulless Boss?”
“What? Oh, about thirty quid, ten years ago.”
“Top of the range glasses, then?”
“Anyway, this manager fella was awfully apologetic. He asks if I’d looked everywhere for them and I said yes and so he calls in the bloke who had cleaned my car and when he came in I knew he had stolen them! I could tell by his face!”
“Did he look guilty?”
“No. He was a Nigger.”
Now this is where my naïvety comes in. I don’t live in a Quentin Tarantino movie, I am not close friends with Los Angeles rappers and I have never rubbed shoulders with any members of the National Front. Basically, I don’t think I’d ever heard anyone say ‘nigger’ in anger before.
And it was the way he said it. He didn’t say it like a rapper might, or Tarantino, but he said it liked he owned it, like one of the people who had originally coined it. He said it like a middle class, Rover-driving, stupid, stunted, red-faced little cunt would say it.
It genuinely shocked me.
All I could say was,
“A nigger! As soon as I saw that he was a nigger I knew he had taken my sun glasses. They are all fucking thieves, every man jack of them.”
“Exactly. So I really kicked up a fuss. I demanded the return of my glasses. I threatened to phone the police. The nigger denied all knowledge, said there were no glasses in the car, basically he accused me of lying!!! Well, I was furious, as you an imagine.”
I could well imagine. The sheer quantity of tuna fish that was flying from his mouth highlighted the level of his fury. There was more tuna fish on me and my computer than there was in his stupid, stunted, red-faced little mouth.
Soulless Boss was in full flow now.
“I demanded that the manager get to the bottom of the matter. Anyway, I’ve left my number with him and said if it’s not resolved within twenty four hours I will have no option but to go to the police. He knew I meant business.”
I said, “Seems a lot of fuss over a pair of sunglasses, Soulless Boss.”
No-one can pull themselves up to their full height better than those who totally lack height.
“It is not the sunglasses that are the point here, lad. It is the principle.”
Then he fucked off.
I wiped tuna from my face and tried to take in what I’d just heard.
Another day, another tuna sandwich, another Soulless Boss lecture.
He was laughing to himself as he approached.
“Hey, remember what I said yesterday about those sunglasses, lad?”
“Yes, Soulless Boss. It’s pretty fresh in my memory.”
“Well, I was driving home yesterday evening and the sun was pretty low, so I went for my sunglasses and they weren’t there.”
“That was because you think the man…”
“…the man at the valeting place had nicked them.”
“Yes. Anyway, I pulled down the sun visor instead, and you’ll never guess what fell into my lap!”
“Yes! They were there all along! Oh, I almost had to pull the car over for laughing!”
“I bet the bloke at the valeting place isn’t laughing right now.”
“Well, that’s just the thing. I thought I’d better go over there this lunchtime to clear it all up. I walked into the office and the manager saw me, and he says, ‘I’m very sorry sir, but our employee refused to return your sunglasses so we had no option but to sack him. To avoid involving the police we’d like to give you fifty pounds for your trouble!’ ”
“But, but you explained what had happened, right? Didn’t you?”
Soulless Boss winked. “When I’d walked into the office I noticed a new lad cleaning the cars. He was white. I said to the manager, ‘Is that the lad who got the job?’ and the manager said yes, so I said, ‘I’ll take the fifty and we’ll say no more about it.”
Soulless Boss patted his pocket and winked again.
“What?? But, Soulless Boss, that bloke…”
“…that bloke hadn’t done anything wrong! Now he’s lost his bloody job!”
Soulless Boss shook his head, laughing.
“Eeh, lad, you aren’t half wet behind the ears! There’s a lesson to be learned there you know. Everything happens for a reason. I was meant to lose those glasses, that nigger was meant to lose his job, that white lad was supposed to get the job! I got fifty quid, so everyone’s happy, aren’t they?”
Soulless Boss dabbed tuna from his stupid, red, cunty little face.
“You’ve a lot to learn, lad. A lot to learn.”
He walked away.
He was right. I had a lot to learn.