Means Of Production

Entry by: Alobear

8th April 2016
Sarah walked into Seresna Publishing to start her first day at work. The building was a little intimidating, all glass and steel. She approached the vast, polished reception desk and waited for the young man stting behind it to notice her. He was talking at high speed into a high tech ear piece that had a wire-thin microphone extending down towards his lips. He held up a finger for her to wait, and continued with his call.

Sarah self-consciously smoothed her pencil skirt and shifted from foot to foot on her three inch heels. It was only five to nine, and she was already regretting her choice of footwear. It was all very well trying to look the part, but if she tripped over her own feet on the way up to her office, it was going to rather ruin the effect.

Just when she was starting to feel anxious about being late, she heard a voice behind her.


She turned to see a blessedly familiar face. Bright, auburn hair framed blue eyes and a smiling mouth.

"Mandy, hi!" she said, a little breathlessly.

"I thought that was you," Mandy said, her tone friendly. "If you wait for Ben to be free to give you directions, you'll be there all day. Come on, I can show you up to the right floor."

Sarah felt almost giddy with relief. Mandy worked in HR and had been part of her interview panel several weeks before. She had been warm and enthusiastic then, and Sarah wished she was going to be working more closely with her. In the Legal Rights Department, she thought it was unlikely she would be dealing with HR too often.

She followed Mandy across the reception area to the bank of lifts.

"So, first day, huh?" Mandy commented after she had pushed the call button.

"Yeah," Sarah said. "I'd forgotten quite how shiny this building is."

The lift arrived and they both stepped in. A zesty smell of air freshener wafted around them, making Sarah think of the lemon tree in the back garden of her childhood home in California. She breathed it in, letting it calm her nerves and ground her with a sense of belonging.

"You actually like this smell?" Mandy said in a disbelieving tone.

"Oh, yes," Sarah said with a grin. "It smells of home."

"Your mum did a lot of washing up, did she?" Mandy teased. "Anyway, don't let the fancy trappings make you nervous. This is a really nice company to work for, and you'll be fine in Danny's department. He's a good boss - and I should know. I get to read the staff satisfaction survey results, after all."

The lift dinged and the doors opened on the fifth floor.

"This is you," Mandy said. "Just head round to the left and you'll spot Danny easily enough. I'm up on twelve, but I could meet you in the canteen for lunch, if you like - say one o'clock?"

"That would be lovely, thanks," Sarah said, grateful to know she wouldn't be eating lunch alone on her first day. "See you then."

The rest of the morning passed in a blur of new faces, introductions to the company systems, and vast amounts of technical information. Mandy was right, though - Danny did seem to be a good boss. He welcomed her warmly and made sure she had everything she needed. By the time it came round to five to one, Sarah was almost feeling settled, and was certainly confident she'd found a job where she thought she would fit in well and be able to achieve useful things.

She made her way to the first floor staff canteen, and joined the queue for the salad bar. Once she had collected her food, she looked round the large, open area and spotted Mandy waving to her from a table to one side. Sarah was just passing a table full of somewhat rowdy men, when she skidded slightly in something that had been spilled on the floor, and nearly dropped her tray.

"Ey, up, love!" one of the men called out. "Enjoy your trip?"

The others all laughed uproariously, and several other people looked round and stared at Sarah. She was very annoyed to feel herself blushing, and even more so when this prompted another round of laughter from the men.

"Aww, look, she's all embarrassed!" their spokesman crowed. "You'll have to grow a thicker skin to get ahead in this company. Unless you're planning a more horizontal route to the top, of course."

Sarah was quite shocked at this clearly mysogynistic utterance, but tried not to let it show. She'd come across enough people like this man to know that trying to engage with him would only make things worse. She gripped her tray more tightly and joined Mandy, where she was waiting anxiously.

"Are you okay?" Mandy asked.

"Oh, sure," Sarah said, breezily, though she was feeling a little shaken. "I've dealt with worse than that in my time. Who is that guy, though?"

Mandy lowered her voice and said darkly, "That's Trevor Dutton, the Production Manager, and the rest are his cronies. Nobody likes them, but Trevor runs his department like a fiefdom. He picks all the new recruits personally to make sure he gets his own way with everything, and only employs men he knows will share his appalling attitudes."

"Why is he allowed to get away with it?" Sarah asked, astonished.

"He's the CEO's brother-in-law, and Martin doesn't want to cause trouble at home by making an issue out of it. He just lets Trevor get on with it, and hopes nobody outside the department will complain too much. They do good work, and always keep to their deadlines. Everyone else just calls them the Means of Production and tries to avoid them."

Sarah laughed appreciatively at the dual meaning, and turned her attention to her lunch. It was a shame to discover that her new workplace wasn't as perfect as she'd hoped, but she supposed there were always unpleasant personalities in any company, and she hopefully wouldn't fall foul of Trevor or his minions again. She would just take every day as it came, and do her best in her own role. And maybe, one day, an opportunity would arise for her to put Trevor in his place. A girl could dream.