“Ah, there you are boys. This isn’t a great start, is it? What time did I tell you?”
I look blankly at my best friend but he doesn’t have a watch on either.
“I said eight fifty-five, actually.”
“I think it is eight fifty-five.”
“Not on my watch.”
I feel my face flush with embarrassment and I look down at my feet. “We were outside ages ago but the door was locked.”
“Yes, well….we don’t open until nine: you should have knocked.”
My friend shoulders me, rolls his eyes and says: “I told you!”
“Let me give you and speccy some life advice: when somebody is going to pay you twenty pounds for a day’s work, you turn up on time. I run a business, here…not a charity.”
I look around the plush estate agency: all the staff are drinking tea and chatting.
“Was it twenty pounds each?” I ask eagerly, thinking of the painted troll I want to buy from Games Den.
“Don’t be cheeky, ginger: it’s twenty pounds for the pair of you and I’m thinking of docking you a fiver for showing up late. I could get a lot for myself with an extra fiver.”
Yeah, I think. You could start with a bloody haircut.
I’ve never seen anything like it: my friend’s dog has less hair than this guy and it’s an afghan hound. Our employer is approximately five feet tall with a massive shoe-brush moustache, a mullet like Pat Sharp from Fun House and a swagger that makes him look as if he has a pretty serious god complex. Also, his suit is about two sizes too big for him.
I take a deep breath. Then I say: “Look, I’m really sorry we’re late: twenty pounds is fine.”
“You’re lucky I’m in a generous mood. It was actually supposed to be five pounds each for three of you, remember? Where’s your fat mate?”
I sigh. “He’s not coming. He got a new mega drive game and-“
“-because he’s fat and lazy. I hope you’ve learned a lesson from him about the world of work.”
I frown. I think I know what point he’s trying to make but he’s undermined his argument by wording it badly.
He crosses the floor of the agency and comes back with a box. “In here are five hundred leaflets: I want every single one delivered by close of business. There’s a list of roads on the top of the box. If you miss a single house, I’ll know about it. I have a mate in every one of those roads. Now get moving.”
He shoves the box at me and I almost fall over under the weight of it. My friend quickly takes the burden of the load and heads for the door, but I stand my ground.
“What are you waiting for, ginge? Hair dye?”
Two of the girls at the front desk laugh. I try to ignore them.
“Can you give us the money now?” I ask instead, focusing my attention on the moustache rather than the eyes. “Only, I’m guessing the last road will be miles away and we don’t want you to have to wait after hours for us to come back.”
“Is that right?” Keeping his eyes fixed on me, he takes out a massive leather wallet and pushes two ten pound notes into my hand. “Now get going: there’s fifty roads on that list and, like I said, I have a mate in every one.”
When we get outside, I lead my friend across the street and down the opposite hill towards the waste ground.
“He was a dick,” he moans, a sulky look on his face. “How do you know him again?”
“A friend of my mum’s.”
“What a dick.”
“You what? He called me Speccy!”
“You ARE speccy.”
“Yeah – whatever. He was taking the p*ss out of you, too.”
I head onto the waste ground and walk to the very end, past the building site and into a yard full of skips.
“Give me the box.”
“We’re going to skip his leaflets.”
“What? We can’t do that! He’s given us twenty quid!”
I snatch the box and hurl it into the skip. My friend practically lunges after it.
“Are you mental? He’s knows someone in every road!”
“Now you’re being a dick,” I say, leaning on the edge of the skip and sighing deeply. “There’s no way that little turd has fifty mates.”
Not on My Watch was written by Davey Stone, who now is available at weekends for leaflet delivery jobs. If you liked ‘Not on My Watch’ check out other entries under the category ‘Growing Up’.