His name was Daniel. An assured title, in my mind, for a scoundrel. I have never met a good Daniel, nor an interesting one, and this Daniel confirmed me that Daniels were suspect and best avoided. His proximity in that small cubicle was causing my work to suffer, not to mention my health. It felt like the life spirit was draining from me, even if it was a mere headache, that dumb throb that announces on the beat of your pulse that the time is stagnating. The office environment was never quite the elixir an ailing body called for, but I thought if I could hunker down and dole out the problem solving of the day all would fix itself. You know the feeling, if I just drink a glass of orange juice and go for a walk then I will be cured of whatever ails me. I don't know what it means when small gestures take on absurd significance. I had become an absolutist, if that is the word, meaning some mindless bold gesture would decide the success of my life from now on. It was all or nothing. Soon enough the life course would change upon some decision. That much was certain. Bad health and weird work would not do. My previous approach was to slouch and slide my way through the working week, the year even, and let the angst unfurl on a drunken night or two during the holidays. My current approach differed in that I was looking forward to these mini challenges of health and fearful proximity to Daniels in order to bring on some crisis. Maybe I did want to leave. Malta and Greece never sounded so ripe for my presence. And I had nothing really tying me down to stop me. The little rush of the travel erection would dance over me, and then subside. Was it courage, lack of strategy, some person, that kept me here ? Of course - it was just the usual gibberish of a distempered worker. Since my comfortable, safe haven of an office had been cruelly taken from me, that friendly grind of a revenge retirement had bubbled away. Perhaps I could jeopardise the department somehow. Throw a spanner in the works. Become corrupt. Even moreso. Disgrace myself in the midst of my coworkers. I often thought of an ex colleague of mine who had been caught taking money from a charity oganisation. He was taken to court and forced to answer some incredible questions regarding his behaviour. You will never know the nakedness of the courtroom until you experience it yourself, especially in the manner that this man did. I imagine it is why some people are addicted to that scene. There was my friend clearly guilty, everyone knew what had happened. He had even made the mistake of wearing a smart suit to court which raised some sordid questions about his station in life. He sat there denying that he took money from a charitable organisation. What pure corruption, I thought. This is the real stuff. Breathe it in. I liked that air. There was something admirable about this fallen comrade going down with his ship, sinking down into the depths of cheap acting and troubled memory, all because he had crossed a line and there was no going back. There must be a legal term for such actions. Doom. When someone goes to the extreme with their powers of fabulation and just sits there, wallowing in it. I had often dreamt of myself in that plaintiffs stand fighting off the accusations, the questions, the disgrace. Perhaps my guilt had followed me here and been stirred by this mans plight. I had done things which could be brought up in a court of law. Quite defendable, as my lawyer friend assured me, and not in the same league as my comrade. Still, it was the formality of the proceedings, the sanctity of the room and the titular persons present, that startled me. It was the just nature of the confrontation. Two sides trying to win over that mysterious woman with the scales. I had long contemplated my exit plan from this job as a kind of courtroom drama, and perhaps even they would haul me before court if I tried to leave. It was something we talked about in a half joking, half serious way, me and my colleagues. The first movements, the strategy, the ties we would keep. Sitting in that office was like being on some sitcom that hung on the ratings. Our credit ratings, our relationships. The secret decisions that filtered through to us and we implemented the plan, the script. Our looks as we head out to lunch or at the end of the day. Always a smile or a blank look. Sometimes a knowing nod that we had survived, that we were safe, even that strange comfort of thinking your bosses would defend you of it all went south. It was fools gold we peddled, but we peddled it to some salubrious characters. It had taken me a long time to figure out what it is we actually did as a business. Perhaps it was that newfound knowledge that got me demoted from my office. I can still remember the first year in my current job. It all went by in a blur of giddy ignorance. My pay check. How proud I felt, like I had just done the washing for ten years. I sat with this huge buffer zone between me and the outside world. And my job which provided me with this boon of esteem, this job which I did not know what it was I was doing. I was given large files of papers with mundane titles and graphs and paragraphs of fluff. It was clear what I was to do with these files - approve or disapprove. I would be given a previous recommendation to peruse, as it were. It was a template for what I would write. This was suggested with the utmost ease and confidence, and my work was always met with plaintive approval. It was my task to sit in my office and approve and disapprove the large nonsensical files. Of course, curiosity forced me to study these files, even to try and decipher them. Some recognisable terms like trustees, fiscallated funds, supernumerary tribute disclosures would appear and reappear, and then some exotic hyloform municipal dividends or truant realties would strut their stuff. It was bizarre, but my introduction to the company was in that vein, so I figured, the better the devil you know. I think that is the saying I want. I was invited to apply for this job a while back. I still remember the fantastic answer I got for my brazen questions 'so what do you want me to actually do exactly ?' - I asked. And the reply was simply 'Don't you worry about that'. All my life I had longed for such logic to appear in the business sphere. It reminded me of a former colleague who had applied for a job at Mcdonalds. As to why he wanted the job he said 'Because it was easy.' Why he did not get that job confounds me to this day. It is just that type of straight talking smarts that augurs well for bloated institutions. We survive on this heady go forward attitude. For me at least, that first year reminded of all I had wanted from corporate life. A stress free job that gave me status and money and no headaches, and an exit strategy when it all went wrong, as it always does. I am not so stupid to believe that why I got this job was because of my nature and the friends I had accrued. After a certain time one begins to know what to look for, who to seek out at functions, what to say. I played dumb enough to be be subservient but smart enough to invent a novel image. Just boring enough to fit in. You know the personal facade will not last, but then eitrher will the business. The ersatz plan is to just keep repeating this. When the big opportunity comes. It always does. Take it. And then you retire. Just try not to get addicted or jailed along the way. That is my ambition, as it were. Ambition is a strange thing I have found. It is not quite the same as confidence or arrogance. Ambition is like the quiet achiever of your emotional arsenal. That is what guided my judge of character. After the bluster and shine of a personality wears off, what is the ambition of this person ? It usually swings on a couple of things. Are they long term or short term, cooperative or independent - once you have a persons ambition locked in you can relax. You can predict their movements.