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Published on July 30th, 2011 | by Yellow Magpie0
Ann’s Story: Chapter Eleven ‘Money In The Bank’
On Thursday morning Ann found herself once again sitting opposite William Johnson. She was both nervous and excited about what he was about to say.
She was hoping she wouldn’t have to fight to get a decent redundancy package but she was determined not to be outfoxed by this wily old man.
Ann had seen how he operated with clients down through the years and his cunning arguments in court were legendary. He was the first choice for those facing charges as he almost always convinced the judge to be lenient.
As she sat there waiting for him to finish a phonecall, she studied his countenance. He was still an attractive man, now in his 70s but fit and healthy looking from years of walking, swimming and watching what he ate.
He had on a snow white shirt, red tie and dark navy suit. His gold wedding ring shone brightly on a long refined finger and his hands were tanned against the white shirt cuffs which had two golden cuff-links attached.
His silver hair was immaculate and combed back off his forehead. As she examined his appearance she began to wonder what he must have thought of her style over the years with her dull black skirt and jacket that she wore almost every day. But her introspection was disturbed by William Johnson’s voice as he signed off his phonecall.
‘Right Peter have a good holiday and see you when you get back, send my love to Joan for me. Bye bye.’
Ann moved towards the edge of her seat in preparation for what she was about to hear. Her heart began to pound once again as she awaited his verdict.
He looked at her and smiled, ‘Well Ann it is an end of an era for you and I. You have been a good and loyal secretary and I couldn’t have asked for better. You ran the office here efficiently and were always discreet and for that I am eternally grateful.’ He said in his soft-spoken voice.
Ann was touched and surprised, she wasn’t used to praise and she felt a lump in her throat. She was near to tears. But then she remembered his shrewdness and thinking he might be softening her up before letting her down she quickly re-focused.
‘As you say, you have been with me for fifteen years and that is indeed a long time. What are you planning to do with yourself?’ He asked looking at her with his perceptive eyes.
Ann felt this was a delaying tactic and she wasn’t interested in discussing her future with her boss. She just wanted to know how much she was getting.
‘I don’t know Mr Johnson, it depends on a lot of things, for one how much redundancy you are going to give me.’ She said with a false laugh.
‘Yes of course’, he said with a slight edge entering his mellow voice. ‘Well given your long years of service and your trustworthiness. I would like to offer you twenty thousand euro.’
Ann was astonished, she thought she would have to fight for fifteen thousand. A wave of relief washed over her and she knew with her small savings and whatever social welfare she would get that she would be alright for a while at least.
But she was determined not to let him see that she was overwhelmed by his offer, she wanted him to believe that this was what she thought she deserved and expected.
‘Thank you Mr Johnson, that is very generous’ she said in a measured voice.
William Johnson then reached across his heavy mahogany desk and shook her hand. ‘I wish you all the best for the future Ann and I hope you will find a position that will suit you.’
‘Thank you’ Ann answered, once again feeling emotional.
Once outside his office she headed straight for the ladies where she stared at herself in the mirror for a long time and did a little squeal of delight. At least now she could relax and if she sold the sideboard then maybe she could add substantially to her redundancy package.
When she went back to her desk Julie came over to ask if she would like to go for a meal on Friday week given it was her last day in the office. Ann agreed even though she would have preferred to just go quietly without any fuss, but she knew that this would be rude and it was nice of the girls to invite her out.
She was acutely aware that she would miss their chatter in the office and all the gossip that they seemed to know. She would also miss the routine of clients in and out all day long. Some of them, offenders who were due to appear in court, some were in to draw up their last will, while others sought divorce advice.
She would miss the lunchtime bustle on the streets of Crowley as all the workers poured out of offices at one o’clock. She had been part and parcel of that life and it felt good. She was one of those working women with their handbags over their shoulders walking smartly along the street, heading for a quick bite to eat before rushing back to work at two o ‘clock.
Then there were the Friday evenings when another week was over and there was the satisfaction of knowing she had done a good weeks work. And of course, most of all, she would miss her monthly pay which was paid directly into her bank account.
But she knew she had to look forward and trust that something else better would turn up. Then glancing at the office clock it was once again one p.m. and time for Ann to put on her coat and join all those who worked for their pay. As she walked down the street she wasn’t sad but just nostalgic as she faced into yet another crossroads in her life.
What would the next fifteen years have in store for her, she pondered. She looked up into the sky and as she watched the clouds drift by she knew that life would never be the same again.