Saturday, 22 June 2013

'The Office Partner' by Robert Graham


Patrick Russell always says he wants to move back to our campus, but I’m pretty sure he won’t.  When my office partner Kirstie gets a new job, he rings across from the other campus with a proposition.
‘But I’m already sharing my office,’ I say. ‘With Ted Pendleton.’  I tell him Ted’s a new appointment in Education.  ‘If I’d known beforehand that they were moving him in,’ I say, ‘I’d definitely have asked Technical Services to swap Kirstie’s laser printer for my inkjet.’
I laugh, but Patrick doesn’t. 

Sophie Henson, our resident Post-Situationist, pops her head round my door. `Coming to the recruitment meeting?’
‘I’d like to.’  I roll my chair back from my screen.  ‘But they need me at this employability thing.’
‘Tragic.’  She looks at the outside of my door and points to the new name card where Kirstie’s used to be.  ‘Edward Pendleton?’
‘Ted?  Education couldn’t find an office for him in their block, so…’ I indicate the desk opposite, where an old briefcase of mine sits.  I’ve taken to leaving a Word document open on the PC next to it.  ‘Actually, you’ve just missed him.  He’s teaching.’  

Ten days later, Patrick Russell makes a rare appearance at my door.  He asks me how I am, whatever and blah blah blah.  He nods at the bare desk opposite.  ‘I still haven’t run into this Ted Pendleton.’
‘Ted? Giving a paper in Birmingham today, something to do with counselling.’
‘Really?  A guy with that background would be ideal for our Student Staff Committee.  Think he might be interested?’
‘I’ll get him to drop you an e-mail, Patrick.’
I call in a favour with an IT geek and edward.pendleton@etcetera joins the e-mail groups of two departments, three programmes and four committees.  Ted tends not to be able to make meetings, but the word on both campuses is that his e-contributions are widely valued.

Somebody from Technical Services calls round to do the annual equipment check.  Nice older guy, quite chatty. 
‘Listen,’ I say.  ‘Do you think you could swap these printers?  You see, Ted isn’t keen on the laser and I don’t mind having the inkjet.’   

At my annual review, Patrick Russell observes in passing that Ted Pendleton is a good man and will go far. 
‘I think he will,’ I say, but I’m pretty sure he won’t. 

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