Secret Agent: 'My job has become like a boyfriend I'm not into – I assumed that at some point I'd just leave'

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The Independent Online

There's a rumour currently doing the rounds that head office is about to get rid of a whole lot of dead wood. When you're talking estate agents, I imagine this task is quite tricky: how does one decide between lumpy log Moira in accounts and twittering twig Gavin? Everyone, therefore, is getting into a bit of a panic, including, I was surprised to discover, me. My job has become like a boyfriend I'm not that into – I assumed that at some point I'd just leave. Hearing that I might be the one to be dumped is very unsettling indeed.

"That's the way the cookie crumbles!" my manager chirped, swaggering to the door with the jollity of someone not in the firing line. "If you work really hard, you might be saved. Just off for a spot of lunch."

Poor Gavin looked as if he might throw up down his purple Primark tie. Justin, meanwhile, was tapping furiously at his keyboard like those smug people in exams irritating those who are sitting under a ticking clock with a blank mind. Even Kelly was hard at work. Or so I thought.

"Re-sult!" she squealed, punching the air, then looking round eagerly for a reaction.

"Shh!" Justin snapped, "some of us are working."

"Some of us don't need to," she replied, cryptically, then, when it became clear that no one was going to press her for an explanation, announced: "I've got a new job."

This, as it turned out, wasn't altogether true. She'd been invited back for a second interview at a promotions company. "What are you promoting?" Justin asked, nonchalantly. "Yourself?"

"I think you'll find my assets speak for themselves," she replied, grinning.

As I watched Gavin trying not to look at Kelly's breasts, I couldn't help feeling slightly upset that she might be leaving. There's something about a colleague's decision to jump ship that highlights the miserable plight of those who are left in the sinking one. Kelly, rather uncharacteristically, spotted this. "There's a job I turned down at the bakery," she offered, seemingly without irony. "It's got quite good overtime."

Determined not to have to resort to Kelly's career cast-offs, I returned home that evening and dug out my CV, wondering how I could dress up several years as an estate agent the way expensive restaurants make mashed potato sound like a massage.

I needn't have bothered. The following day my manager was stomping around behaving as if the world had ended. For the insular navel-gazing one in which he lived, it had. Unless we improved our sales figures, head office warned, the dead wood to be felled is in fact him. I guess that's just the way the cookie crumbles.

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