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Friday, October 17, 2008

I quit

as bluntly as that, without preparation or preamble...

I went for coffee and ended up veering left and then left again into my boss’ office. I stood there for a moment wondering what it was I came to do, but when Branson looked up from his desk, when I saw his goatee twist into an expression of irritation, when I heard the words, Labas, wat wil je - what do you want – it was beyond my control. I don’t think I said I quit – or the Dutch equivalent – I said something else, but I can’t remember, the shock in Branson’s face was overwhelming. He remained silent but his eyeballs spoke to me in unmistakable terms: how the hell, HOW THE HELL, will a miserable Croat with no qualifications to speak of survive in this world that is all tooth and claw, that is all Darwinian and that is now on the brink of economic collapse; how the hell do you expect to manage Labas? And this is when I wished to remind him that if the world collapsed on itself and darkness descended on man and all his machines there would be no need for office supplies, and thus no need for a chump such as him to order them and keep inventory. I think I laughed – I must have, what else could have provoked his arm to spasm as it did, and the coffee to flow across his desk and the obscenities from his hairy lips. I left him mopping his keyboard, soggy Kleenex in hand.

Since I have no desk of my own I had none to clear, and I guess could have left the building promptly, but I wished to say farewell to my beloved colleague Ratface, the undisputed, week-on-week winner of most-intensely-annoying-co-worker. I have been unkind to him in the past, calling him a Nazi genetic experiment, and I thought I might make him happy by telling him I quit, but when I did he lapsed into a state verging panic: but… but what are you going to do? he asked, as though my announcement shot a beam of light into a dark chasm in his soul. I don’t know, I said, and left him gazing blankly at his empty Outlook calendar. Adieu Ratface, Adieu.

And of course I couldn’t leave without saying goodbye to my trusted friend Fer Ruiz at payroll, the soft-spoken subversive, the armchair Che. He was sad and I let him plead with me in earnest: where was he going to find “a receptive ear and vociferous heart in this house of cards” (his words, he’s Argentinean) . I gave him a big bear hug and I said, I’ll see you in Buenos Aires my friend. And that was that.