Sliding a Michael Buble CD into the slot, I turn left out of the hospital car park, and my 5-series pulls me up the long slow climb of Edge Lane. It’s not too long before the terraced houses on either side of me are completely boarded up; empty shells that have been ready for demolition for five years now. I heard that it was a botched deal: the council readied the whole area for demolition, and then found that they didn’t have the funds. It sounds about right. Approaching the traffic lights, I furtively press the central locking button on the car, and with a satisfying ‘Shhhunk’ I am safely encased.
I find myself thinking about work again. Tomorrow, I’ll be presenting to the Manchester Branch. I’m completely out of my comfort zone on this, so I’ve put in way too much preparation. I’ve gone over the thing twenty times, but I’m still convinced that something will go wrong. In my dream last night, I opened up the Powerpoint presentation, and it prompted me for my network password. Now, in a moment of frustrated weakness some time ago (I don’t know, I was having a bad day) I set my password to a swearword. One of the bad ones. So there I am, behind a lectern in front of the whole of the Manchester Branch (who, incidentally, are all Chinese in the dream for some reason) and I accidentally type my network password into the wrong window. And there it is, projected on the screen in letters a foot tall: the bad swearword. The BMW sweeps me past the Littlewoods building, which looms down like a 1930s lunatic asylum, and I think: I must remember to change my password.
Really, seeing Steve just now should give me a sense of perspective. He’d been retired… what? A month? Maybe it’s a little more than that, but even so…
In his day, he was the best damn sales rep we had. He would’ve shown the Manchester Branch a thing or two. Old Steve would have had them eating out of the palm of his hand. Is that the expression? Eating Out Of The Palm Of His Hand? It sounds wrong.
Now he’s just wasting away. Arms that were once like Popeye’s reduced to silk draped over bone. It makes you think.
I should probably add another slide or two to the presentation; I may be running a little short of an hour. Maybe more information about the marketing campaign?
In the line of traffic ahead, a sign lights up to let us know we are in a 30 mile an hour zone. White LEDs encircled by red LEDs. The cars in front don’t slow down, and neither do I.
We all just carry on at the same speed regardless.