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The Bad Reference – a flash fiction shortie


Am I too old?

I’m fifty-two, short, fat, my eyesight’s bad and my hearing’s worse. I’ve got no money and I get fed-up with idiots really quickly. And, due to a terminal lessening of patience, almost everyone seems like an idiot to me these days. I’m the original grumpy old woman.

And in addition to all these, I’m now out of work. Laid off. Redundant.

I’ve looked in the small ads in the local paper. I’ve looked in the agencies and the job centre. Not really seen anything I fancy.

I’ve got a little car, so I can get almost anywhere within, say, a forty to forty-five minute radius of where I live. And I’ve got great computer skills and ‘a flexible approach to work’. Oh yes, and I’m a good team player, although I can work on my own initiative and meet targets and deadlines. In addition to my lengthy ‘life-experience’, I’ve also got a degree.

And I try to be nice. I smile and try to look interested. When they talk about their sick child or dog, I make all the right sympathetic noises.

So why don’t they want me?

My reference from my old job probably wasn’t exactly glowing. If I’m honest, it’s possible I didn’t give my best performance towards the end of my time with GrippaCables.

But that was because my boss, Jonathan Gripp, was having an affair with that young woman in Sales Support. Steffi.

And it wasn’t just that his lust for her was so obvious and unrestrained, but after all I saw him first.

Possibly I shouldn’t have shredded all the sales documents for the last quarter. That probably gave everyone a bit of a headache, trying to fathom out who’d ordered what and when and if they’d paid.

It’s true that I poured a cup of hot sweet tea into the new photocopier, but I was very upset when I saw Jonathan and Steffi leave for lunch together.

I may have been rather rude to some callers.

And I certainly made my feelings plain during the video-conference with the Glasgow office. With hindsight, I see it may have been wiser to keep my clothes on for that.

I wish I hadn’t slashed his tyres or keyed both sides of her Clio. Or put black paint on the handset of his phone or superglue on her chair, or programmed her computer to make a fart noise every time she pressed a key, or filed all reports under X, or arranged to have all the business stationery reprinted to show the company name as CrappaCables.

It may not have been necessary to rebook their honeymoon destination from Corfu to Coventry. You’d think they’d be able to see the funny side, laugh it off, be a bit adult about it. Don’t know why she had to cry and wail and scream down the phone at me. There was certainly no need for that kind of language.

So now they’ve decided to be petty about it by giving me a lukewarm reference. After all I’ve done for them! You’d think any firm would be glad to have me with my admin skills.

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