H Anthony Hildebrand

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Sales Meetings

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I’m pretty sure all of the other guys in the team hated monthly sales meetings as much as I did.

It was the thing with the ties. You could never tell what was out of favour until you were actually in the room. It was excruciating. But we tried to keep our faces impassive. An air of nonchalance was important. It suggested that we were cool. Unfazed. Confident.

And our guts churned and our sphincters tightened and beads of sweat ran down our spines and pooled in the waistband of our boxers. That’s my experience, anyway. I never really got the chance to talk to anyone else about it.

So they’d give the signal and you’d try not to hesitate. Right hand to the thickest part of the tie. Head bowed slightly. Eyes shut. Mouth firmly closed. The company’s preferred brand of incentivised neckwear tended to pack the explosives slightly higher in the back, which meant a good chance of copping a mouthful of brain or blood or skullbone or some disgusting, foul-tasting combination of the three, thanks to the trajectory of the blast.

I lost count of the number of meetings I survived during my career. I only ever felt my tie pull my head slightly forward, and heard the tell-tale click of the trigger as it failed to engage. Fragments staining yet another suit. The screaming explosion in my ears. Most of the bodies would collapse forward onto the boardroom table, but every now and then one would still be swaying, as if making up its mind which way to fall. I’d take out my handkerchief, wipe the mess from my face, and push my chair out. To reception. Towel. Showers. Pub.

Going forward. Always.

(This story was my winning entry in the Warwick Words Festival’s ‘Writer in Residence’ competition. The story is also here. Check out the rest of the Warwick Words site while you’re at it. It’s a great little festival.)


Written by hahildebrand

May 2, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Posted in Things

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