“Two sugars?” asked Tony holding Colin’s cup of tea out towards his illustrious boss.
“… no just milk, Tone,.” Colin responded with his voice set to “Won’t Suffer Fools” mode.
“Really? Since when?” asked Tony sounding like he’d just discovered who assassinated JFK.
“Since always, Tone. You just keep forgetting!” sighed Colin at his dim PA whilst also rolling his eyes, he decided not to pat his head as well.
“No boss I don’t! If you took two sugars I’d remember that.” insisted Tony sounding like an injured bird if they could talk and make tea.
“I don’t though, do I!” Colin shifted his Armani suit slightly so he could stare directly into Tony’s soul.
Tony blinked first and walked out of the meeting room, leaving the tea with Colin to sort it out himself. “… oh you’re confusing me now!”
Colin walked towards the front of the main meeting room which was at the centre of the office floor imprisoning all attendees in four walls of glass. He loved using it to fire people so everyone could see the tears of those being made redundant. He smiled to himself thinking about those fun times whilst adjusting his pricey outfit and smartwatch for all the other attendees to see. Twenty people had taken their seats around the large table and were chatting to each other. Colin hated idle chit chat so angrily interrupted the noise.
“Anyway, let’s pause this riveting chat and get started. Is this everyone?” bellowed Colin down the desk towards the ear drums of his employees.
“Yes boss,” piped up Lisa, knowing this may be the last time she talked during the meeting as her squeaky voice always annoyed Colin who christened her “Miss Mouse” and told her to “get back in her hole!” when she made a good point he disagreed with last week.
“Good, right you all know the score it’s competition time! We need to come up with amazing ways to get our subscribers engaged and make them want to win the prize up for grabs. Then we can divvy them up between the mags and websites. So gimme your ideas!” Colin closed his eyes making an expression which was very close to his sex face whilst gesturing his team to throw their ideas towards him. Unfortunately nerves got the better of them all and what followed was ten seconds of unbearable silence. Opening one of his eyes to check he hadn’t gone deaf, Colin fired a warning shot towards his team.
“Come on don’t be shy! I’ve only got 20 minutes so get on with it OR I’LL FIND ANOTHER TEAM!!” Twenty arms shot up into the air - in that moment, if they had entered the “Synchronised Meeting” competition they would have won gold.
“Right, that worked… yes Tina.” Colin pointed towards one of his favourite protégés, sometimes for Tina’s amazing ideas and professionalism but mostly because she had other great assets.
“We could give away a house or a whole street of houses to a family. They would need to detail what makes their perfect home and why.” Tina presented a slide on the big screen at the front of the room showing a mock up for the competition. It read, “Win a New Home With a Swipe On Your Phone!”
“Great! Love the tagline. We’ve done it before and was a huge success. As I remember? Matt over there did well last time. How is the house Matty?” Colin looked over to the man halfway up the meeting room dressed in a large blue cardigan smelling slightly of arse.
“Still huge and worth a crap load more money now! Hahaha!” giggled Matt to himself, causing him to belch into his beard and turning the stomachs of everyone sat around him.
“I bet it is, good stuff. Okay, Tina - work out the details and we’ll get it on all the relevant mags and sites by next month. What else?” asked Colin sensing the good stuff was still to come.
“Give away a number of sports cars, we have Ferrari and Porsche ready to sponsor it.” Simon put up a slide showing the cars in all their glory.
“Nice! How many we talking about, Simon?” asked Colin who was slightly delirious with the love he felt for the Ferrari towering over him on the LED display.
“30 in total, boss” Simon double checked his figures and nodded to himself. Colin’s eyes widened almost popping out of their sockets.
“Blimey! That’s the whole team driving in style from next month! Okay, everyone who wants one goes into the hat and if they get pulled out they write their winning entry before deadline.” Looking around the room he could see that had got everyone’s attention.
“Excuse me?” asked a tiny voice near the back of the room. Colin looked at this young guy in his cheap supermarket suit staring back at him looking confused.
“Yes? How can I help, son?” asked Colin looking around to see if this kid had escaped from a nearby crèche or belonged to someone.
“Erm, I may have misunderstood but sounds like you’re giving the competition prizes to each other.” Colin stared at the boy for a moment to see if they were serious. He realised they were so decided to try and close this line of questioning down quickly.
“Yes! And?” asked Colin.
“Well isn’t that against the law?” responded the boy, sounding like he was using his “I’m telling Miss!” voice.
“Only if they find out. Sorry, who are you again?” asked Colin who was getting concerned about having this stranger in this meeting. Lisa put her hand up to respond.
“This is the new work experience boss so thought I’d bring him in.” Colin nodded slowly at Lisa making a mental note to sack her later.
“Really, well I hope he’s signed an NDA.” insisted Colin, expecting proof immediately.
“First thing he did when we collected him from reception,” said Lisa, presenting the signed document to Colin who walked over to double check. He flicked it back onto the desk and returned to the front of the meeting room.
“Good, I wasn’t in the mood to get rid of a body this early. Only kidding, son. Welcome aboard! So where were we?” Colin returned his tone to his previous setting and waited for more great ideas.
“The kid was asking about who was winning the prizes.” said Simon wincing slightly, expecting some kind of repercussion. Colin snarled slightly, which evolved into a smile as he addressed the young lad directly hoping this wouldn’t derail the meeting for much longer.
“Yeah okay let me summarise this quickly as I’ve not got long. Simply put, life is short and content is king, the competition submissions we were getting were consistently awful on every level. So instead we started rewarding our hard working staff with the prizes and in exchange they write the amazing published entries. Not a bad return for a free house or car or three weeks in the Bahamas.” The rest of the room giggled quietly to themselves.
“Hasn’t that impacted sales at all?” asked the strange lad who definitely had some sense in his head even if it wasn’t the common kind that would tell him not to test Colin’s patience.
“Some of us thought it might impact sales but funnily enough our submissions went up and sales for the magazines soared. It’s a win win for everyone! The plebs out there enjoy entering the competitions and we love winning the prizes! Now, any other questions or can we crack on?” asked Colin who, judging by the colour of his face was on the verge of a volcanic eruption.
“Nothing more at the moment,” smiled the boy back at Colin. Wiping the sweat from his brow, the boss continued to address the rest of the attendees.
“Great! Okay team, what’s next?”
“Get married for free – magazine pays for everything and prints the photos in key publications and websites afterwards.” Mike stood up showing the mock ups on the board he’d brought to the meeting. Colin looked over the sea of wedding dresses, suits, chair covers and favours on the designs and got excited even though he’d already been married five times.
“Like it, just remember only use distant cousins of employees this time as we had that nightmare when the tabloids discovered Tanya and her hubby worked for us.” Colin pointed directly at Tanya waggling his chubby index finger causing his excessive gaudy jewellery to jangle.
“Yes boss!” said Mike, mentally patting himself on the back, happy with how that went.
“Submit your inventions?” blurted out Chris who had been silent up to this point.
“YES!! We had great success milking all those app and invention ideas from Joe and Josephine Public last time, with them handing the rights over to us, making the company millions and strengthening the tech arm of the business. Exciting!” Colin gave a thumbs up causing Chris to blush at his boss. Unrequited love was so hard.
“Win a zoo!” giggled Tina who loved her idea but sometimes the ridiculousness of her job got the better of her.
“What?” asked Colin thinking he may have misheard. Tina instantly assured her boss he had heard her correctly.
“Become an owner of a zoo. Whipsnade are up for it and ready to accept a lower offer if we promote them significantly over the next 12 months.” Tina slid the details down the long central oak desk towards Colin. He began to peruse the page like a meat deprived lion.
“Isn’t that unwise to give a zoo to someone who has no experience?” asked the strange young lad who had done well to stay quiet for this long since his last outburst.
“What’s your name, son?” asked Colin without looking up from reviewing the details of the zoo competition.
“Jeremy,” responded the young boy confidently. Colin slid the page back to Tina and looked up at Jeremy.
“Listen Jez, just because someone who’s never run a zoo before wins that honour doesn’t mean all the lions will automatically rip people’s heads off the next day. The zoo keepers and all the other employees will still be about steadying the ship. That’s right isn’t it Tina?” asked Colin, receiving a swift nod from his colleague.
Colin continued addressing Jeremy directly, “Anyway we’ll sell the land to property developers within the first year for maximum profit so those animals won’t be a risk to anyone in the long term.”
“Don’t you get them moved to other zoos first?” asked Jeremy, concerned for the animals safety. Colin smirked slightly before attempting to say what Jeremy wanted to hear.
“Yes Jez, if you like! Hehehe! Moving on…” Jeremy had more to ask but Colin didn’t give him a chance and Lisa prodded the young boy’s arm to make clear he needed to be quiet.
“Surgery boss. Lots of free treatments. Boobs, lips, bums, sex changes, the lot!” said Tanya displaying her overly botoxed face to her boss. Colin’s eyes darted around the long desk making sure his eyes met everyone before continuing.
“Looking around this room, not you Tanya, it seems to be something you all need urgently so definitely get that launched asap. Just make sure the right people are winning the right treatment. Don’t want to go in as a Steve and come out as an Eve when all you wanted was a face lift.” Colin gave the whole team a few seconds to picture that image with all the juicy painful details.
“Punch a teacher might be a good one for the youngsters,” said Denise having asked her wayward teenage sons that morning what competitions they’d like.
“Careful on that one, Denise. Remember when we did that “Punch an MP” giveaway. The out of court settlement led to redundancies. Look into it though as it sounds fun and I can think of a number of my old teachers, and I mean OLD, I’d love to smack in the chops,” said Colin momentarily daydreaming about the chinning he’d love to give his old science teacher Mr Hodge.
“What if we do The Apprentice but without the part where you have to be a moron in front of Lord Sugar?” asked Mike. Colin jumped into the air clapping his hands showing he loved the idea.
“Who wouldn’t want to win that! Hundred grand job with zero experience and guaranteed first year of wages even if you’re crap. I’m sure we can all think of nephews or nieces who would be perfect for this. Great idea! Make sure we do that one regularly. Only got five more minutes. Make em good!” urged Colin to his winning team.
“Lifetime’s supply of shopping?” suggested Simon after seeing it at the bottom of his long list.
“From where? Supermarket? Department store?” asked Colin thinking his girlfriend would love it as a birthday gift.
“We have got possible deals with a range of high street brands who would love to do this as long as the winner becomes an in house digital influencer as part of the prize.” Colin liked what he was hearing from Simon and slapped the desk with excitement.
“Love it! Lots of free crap for the winner and content for us!! Get it done! Right I’ve got a question for you all. How are we getting on with my idea from last month?” Colin looked around at a room of blank faces.
“Which one boss?” asked Tina
“Which one? The cure for cancer!”
“Well we… erm weren’t sure you were serious,” continued Tina who was starting to regret being so vocal. Colin frowned looking confused at his team’s lack of memory.
“You what? Of course I was, does that mean it’s not got anywhere?” Colin used his disappointed voice.
“Well the problem is boss there isn’t one.” Chris helped Tina out by taking the lead.
“One what?” asked Colin.
“There isn’t a cure for cancer,” insisted Chris, pointing out the obvious. Colin giggled at his team’s concerned faces.
“I know that you idiots but our readers don’t! You need to convince them we’ve got the world exclusive on it and the winner will be the first in the world to receive the treatment.”
“But how do we make it work if there’s still not a cure when the competition ends?” asked Tina still not grasping what was being asked of them.
“Do I have to come up with everything? Select someone internally who doesn’t have cancer, film them taking pills that are really Skittles and pretend they are cured. It’s obvious!” Colin rolled his eyes at Tina before taking a bow at his own genius.
“That’s a lot to cover up, boss,” said Chris as he began to piece together an action plan.
“We’ve done worse before. Remember “Kill a Relative”?” reminded Colin to the rest of the room.
“What was that about?” asked Jeremy who simply felt he had to interject once more.
“Jez, the less you know on that one, the better for you my boy. Right last orders before I dash,” smirked Colin at his annoying meeting crasher. Jeremy understood instantly and zipped his mouth shut.
“What about bring back “Nominate a Prime Minister”? Government seem to be receptive to doing this as soon as possible” asked Mike putting on his posh “I know MPs” voice. Colin responded with a loud singular belly laugh.
“HA! I bet they are! It’s their fault we got that wobbly faced clown as the winner of the same competition last time and we’ve been stuck with him ever since. Let them simmer for another few months before we go back and suggest it again.” Colin seemed to be pointing through the glass walls towards the nearest window in the direction of Westminster, even though the office was on the other side of London.
“Understood. Thanks boss!” nodded Mike.
“Okay, I hope you were taking notes. I want to see the minutes in my Inbox in the next hour and we’ll reconvene in a week where I want to see the content for all of the competitions including winning entries, marketing campaigns and budgets. Great work!” Colin checked he had everything and then dashed out of the room leaving his team to wrap up the meeting. His jewellery clanged together making him sound like an up-market one man band. His tuneless whistling pierced the air like a broken kazoo which signalled his presence to the work force sat throughout the open plan office.
<dials phone number and dialling tone is heard>
“Gran, it’s me.”
<faint sound of someone speaking from the mobile>
“Jeremy, your grandson? Yes, you told me to call you after my first day.”
<unintelligible response from receiver>
“It’s much worse than you thought. Yes, they’re giving the prizes to each other.”
<somber tone of person on other end of mobile>
“I know! Anyway, I’ll leave you to talk to them as I don’t want to blow my cover. Yes, I think they’re out of control.”
<more random rants fire out of the receiver>
“Remember Gran, You still promise to make me the new boss of it all when this is done, right?”
<less enthusiastic but eventually positive response from person on other end of the phone>
“Just wanted to check! Okay bye Gran!”