Yes, Nemesis II. It happened twice. They say if you don't learn from your mistakes, then you're probably a bit of a twat.
I was temping at that inept Exam Board, the workplace where the clocks stopped ticking and started to go backwards and where people would begin their Mondays by muttering incoherently to themselves as they downed buckets of ethanol. I look back on those times with a fondness akin to, well, shame; the evil French girlfriend, the ripping my arse to shreds - yes, they were shit times.
And, of course, there was the other girl I fell for, except that too went kinda wonky.
Anyway, I digress. The team I used to work for at this board was blessed with a new member, a seemingly pleasant guy called Geoff. It took only a week for people to start whispering about him. Perhaps it was his boistrous loudness, or his clapping heartily when something amused him, or else his lascivious manner, but in just five days our pleasant open-plan office was being dominated by this guy who either really wanted to be noticed, or was just plain annoying.
In the great scheme of things though, it was no big deal.
Within a couple of weeks, rumours were abounding. My female colleagues all got to know him, mainly because he'd approached them with his tongue hanging out. The conscensus was that he was a bit of a git.
One evening, a group of us were headed off for a meal after work. Geoff had heard of our plans and invited himself along. We all acquiesced, half-heartedly accepting our new guest.
As we waited on a tube platform, Geoff turned to me.
'Watch this', he said as he approached a lone woman waiting for her train and began chatting her up. I walked away disinterested.
At the restaurant, Geoff got quickly pissed. I was sat opposite him and Vicky, an attractive colleague and self-confessed Maneater. To her credit, she looked thoroughly bored as he launched into a string of barely-concealed boasts about blowjobs and whether or not Vicky would be willing to perform for him. Our entire table was now silent as we watched Geoff make Vicky squirm.
I turned to Pete sitting next to me and gave him a deadpan look to the accompaniment of Geoff's manic laughter.
'This guy's a cunt', Pete responded.
After the meal, and with Geoff long gone, Vicky told me that Geoff had invited her back to his flat for the night.
'I have a meeting tomorrow, Geoff', Vicky replied distractedly.
'Don't worry', he'd apparently replied, 'You can borrow some clothes from my girlfriend'.
Then Sally remarked that she'd been propositioned by Geoff around the time that Vicky spurned his advances.
But Geoff continued unabated. At an office party, he followed a girl into the ladies' toilets to ask for a fuck in a cubicle. She laughed it off. On another occasion, he told the new girlfriend of one of his male friends that he was devastated that they'd got it together as he wanted to be the one fucking her.
She was actually flattered.
'That's it', I'd decided, 'Geoff's the Antichrist'.
The following week at our desks, something made Geoff roar with laughter again, a booming foghorn of appreciation that was proceeded by lots and lots of clapping.
'What an arsehole', I shouted undiplomatically to a colleague, loud enough for the rest of the office to hear, including Geoff. And so, with that unnecessarily provocative comment, I'd made my declaration of War.
I'd stare at him fiercly. He soon noticed and learnt to keep his distance which was what I wanted. I also wanted him to feel extremely uncomfortable.
'Wanker', I'd spit as he walked past. In fairness to the guy, he'd not actually done anything to me and I was behaving like a bully and a petulant child, but Bryan was back again, back to haunt me at a new workplace. This time he would not win. I wasn't going to put up with another arrogant, self-obsessed misogynist with an incessant need for attention. A man for whom other men are individuals to boast to, or conduits to get at new women. A man who sees women as toys, conquests, and commodities to be fucked then disregarded.
Ok, fine, why should he cheat on his girlfriend and harrass or succeed with women while I remained the bitter and single Mr Nice Guy?
So I made it personal. His character stunk, I didn't like his morality, and it rankled me. Life isn't fair in a vast number of ways - and in much more important arenas - but in simple decency terms, in meeting other people, in treating them with respect and not using them for what they can do for you, this guy was breaking every rule. He was fouling and diving and still winning games. Plus he was crudely hitting on friends of mine. They might have shrugged it off as harmless, but I didn't.
I reasoned that if I was physically incapable of ignoring this man, smiling more in general, and confidently flirting with the women I liked, then I could scare him instead, flatten his ego, and win some kind of ridiculous Pyrrhic victory.
And it was all going to plan until my little accident. That was the night I'd fallen off my pub chair and hospitalised myself as I'd landed on broken glass. When I'd literally limped back into work on Monday morning, my power over Geoff had gone. Word had quickly spread that I'd given myself a splintered glass suppository, although the truth was I'd ripped open the small of my back. Either way, Geoff, I'd been told, nearly injured himself convulsing with laughter when he'd heard.
I tried walking as normally as I could past Geoff that morning, but it was no use. I was in a lot of pain and had to walk slowly, gingerly. Geoff was grinning from ear to ear. As I reached my desk and eased myself into my chair, he was cheering and clapping with gusto. For Geoff, this was karma; my comeuppance, pure and simple.
Perhaps it was.
Time passed. My arse healed. Geoff got louder and clappier. Our pathetic little tiff turned physical as we began shoulder-barging past one another in corridors. Then, one day, I'd returned to my desk with a salad from the canteen. As I sat there, I was amused to hear Geoff on the phone to the Human Resources department:
'So can I come up?'
'Yes, it's to do with work.'
And with that, he left the room. This amused me as he'd been barred from the HR department because it was staffed solely by women. He used to go up there several times a week to flirt and chat blithely. Eventually, the HR manager told him to fuck off out of their office unless he had a work related query.
So, as Geoff left the room, I put down my fork and composed the following email:
'GEOFF CONTACTS HR FOR WORK RELATED MATTER:
Geoff D_________, 12, of no fixed abode, today visited the Human Resources department for a work related matter. At no point did he force himself onto anyone with a womb, dribble inane platitudes into their bored ears, or boast about his incredible sexual prowess as the belching of his shallow laughter numbed all who heard him while he clapped like a deranged seal on speed.'
I put the names of the three HR girls into the 'To' field and clicked 'Send'. Feeling mightily amused with myself, I went back to my salad.
Ten minutes later, Geoff burst into the office shouting, 'I've got the funniest email to show everyone, although it originated from a cunt.'
'That's me!', I thought, and watched in horror as Geoff walked to his computer. There, on his monitor, was my email.
At the exact moment I'd pressed 'Send', Geoff had been leaning over an attractive girl in HR and peering down her top, his intention being to help her 'fix' an email problem. It was then that my email to her appeared. Geoff opened it, read it, and immediately forwarded it to himself.
Realising I'd been caught, I bit the bullet and patted Geoff on the back, telling him that I was pleased he'd seen it as I wouldn’t want him to be left out.
'Don't touch me', he snapped.
'Go fuck yourself', I replied as I walked off to get a coffee and have a little panic.
On my return, Geoff said 'If I were you, I’d fear for your future', which I laughed off as I choked on my vending machine mud. Later that day, I was summoned to a meeting with Margaret, our Head of Department, and a member of the HR team who took notes. After the meeting, Geoff and I were immediately sent home.
'But I've got work to do!' I protested for the first time ever.
'It'll have to wait until tomorrow', said Margaret. 'Go on, you have to leave now.'
Later that evening, Geoff had returned to a pub near our office with some colleagues to drink heavily despite being two days into a loudly self-proclaimed de-tox. He was celebrating in earnest, buying wine and beer for all and sundry and declaring 'Ebola's going down!!'
He had made an official complaint against me. In the days that followed, other members of staff were summoned to meetings to discuss what they knew. I had to write a Statement of Events as it transpired that Geoff was trying to get me fired for email abuse. And in case that didn't work, he had an ace up his sleeve, or perhaps a damage limitation plan; Geoff began telling people he was bisexual.
On the day of our disciplinary meeting, Geoff and I were sat together for the first time since this blew up, in a room with our respective bosses.
'Well chaps', said Barry, my immediate boss, 'Who wants to start?'
I looked at Geoff. He was resolutely tight-lipped. He wanted me to dig my own grave. So I began.
'Well firstly' I said, 'Let me start by apologising. It's no secret that Geoff and I don't get on, but for him to take this to such a ridiculous level and waste everyone's time - Barry, I know how busy you are and I'm really sorry - but all this...' I waved my hand around the room, 'It's just nonsense.'
I looked back at Geoff. There was the merest hint of a smile.
'Unfortunately', I continued, 'Geoff is under the delusion that people in this company actually have time for this bullshit. He also thinks that I will actually get fired because of this, but what he fails to take into account was that I was on my lunchbreak when I sent that internal email so, as stupid as I admit the email was, I haven't actually broken any specific rules.'
I was now warming to my theme. I was 110% certain that no-one would be getting fired any time soon. I knew there'd be a rap on the knuckles and a general 'Grow up', and that would be that.
'Sadly, Geoff', I said as I turned to look at him, 'You're a moron. You're a moron and a Sex Pest. Several female friends of mine still have the explicit emails you've been sending them - and sent during working hours. If anyone's been abusing emails here, it's you, sunshine. Now we could look into that further, or perhaps you'd prefer to stop calling the kettle 'black', Mr Pot.
'Oh, and by the way, if you're going to start telling people that you're bisexual presumably so you can accuse me of harrassing you, it would first help if that was a known fact for some time, and it would be even better if I'd ever said anything derogatory to you in the first place.'
I don't remember anything that Geoff said in return, other than us not liking each other, that I had been harrassing him, etc. And it all ended pretty much as I had assumed; Grow the Fuck Up. Our desks were moved, it made for good gossip, and everyone involved now had acres of work to catch up on.
I was overwhelmed to be able to calmly assassinate that jerk to his face and in front of management. After all, I was becoming accustomed to meetings where I'd fallen out with a twat. But what gratified me most were the lads from work who I didn't even know buying me congratulatory drinks later that week. And a couple of the managers involved had told me confidentially that they were well aware of his reputation and had enjoyed reading my email and Statement of Events.
All that excitement, over in an anti-climactic puff. The Bryans and Geoffs of this world may be ten a penny and I've since learnt to do what every normal person does when they meet them - keep out of their fucking way. Even if they manage to get to you, let it slide.
And so, slide I did when, one morning at work, I casually looked out into the smoking concourse. There was Geoff, chatting excitably to the one woman who was finding his sleaziness and come-ons attractive, maybe because it's so very French. Sitting next to him and grinning like a Parisienne cat who'd got the cream was Amira, my beautiful, angry ex-girlfriend who much preferred tall, dark, swarthy Italians to the likes of me. Except she didn't look angry any more. She looked very content and very fawned over.
Perhaps this was because Geoff looks like a tall, dark, swarthy Italian.