His double espresso hit him hard like a shot of vodka. It made him close his eyes and shake his head. A sensation he still remembered from his old drinking days. But they were a distant memory now. He’d been tea total for over thirty years. One day he woke up and decided to stop. No particular reason, it just didn’t seem like fun anymore.
Bills Cafe was unusually quiet for the time of day, at 9am you’d expect to find a dozen builders drinking mugs of tea and eating “Heart attack on a plate” breakfasts. But for some reason, not today. Maybe it was due to the school holidays, he seemed to remember that half term was sometime in October.
He stood up and looked at himself in the floor to ceiling mirror to his right. The blue shirt, yellow tie combination worked well with the silver grey suit. Maybe he’d put too much gel on his thinning grey hair. The slick back look reminded him of an Italian gangster he’d seen in a recent film. He smiled. Not bad for fifty four. He looked down at his shoes. Lucky shoes he called them. Black brogues that had cost him over two hundred pounds last year. He didn’t get to wear them often but when he did usually something good happened.
It was a beautiful autumn morning. Cold and crisp with stunning bright sunshine that made his eyes squint as he stepped outside. His destination was just a short walk away and he still had fifteen minutes to get there. Being early created a good impression and this interview was important.
His employment had ended two years ago and he’d lived off his generous redundancy payment ever since. He’d been the UK General Manager of a large distribution company. Over two hundred staff reported to him. He oversaw Sales, Operations and Finance and was responsible for almost four million pounds of turnover. Throughout the company he was known simply as “Mr Gallagher”. Firm but fair. The responsibility was great but so was the salary. But then the market crashed and his company were one of the casualties.
In his day he’d been considered a “High Flyer”, but that was in the past, now what he needed more than anything else was a job. He’d been patient and waited for the right opportunity to come along and it looked like now was the time.
A huge, multinational company were opening up a depot in his town and were looking for staff. He’d sent off his CV and was pleasantly surprised when he got a call back asking him to attend an interview.
He was quietly confident. He knew that with his skill set he could run this operation easily.
The receptionist smiled as he gave his name. She looked familiar. Maybe she’d worked for him in the past.
At exactly ten thirty his name was called.
He was welcomed by a young man in his mid to late twenties. Dark curly hair and one of those trendy beards that everyone seemed to be growing these days. His handshake was limp and slightly damp. He was ushered along a narrow corridor and into a small office.
He sat down. He wasn’t nervous. He was confident.
He was surprised to see the same youth sit down in front of him. He noticed his CV on the desk. Surely this wasn’t the person who would be interviewing him?
The young man spoke.
“So, Mister Gallagher. Can you drive a forklift?”
It was at that moment that he realised the sole was coming away on one of his shoes…