Confessions of a benefits manager: Love is in the air

St Valentine’s Day presents an opportunity to pursue amorous intentions, but for Candid, mischief and intrigue are on the cards

I have done a very silly thing. You see, I have left a valentine card for Big Bad Boss. No, of course I haven’t got a thing for him. It was just a lark, really. I had a card all ready to leave for that gorgeous new bloke in IT. You know, the one with the just-got-out-of-bed-and-ready-to-get-back-in tousled hair. Yes, really, he works in IT; I know it’s hard to imagine. Normally, I have as little to do with anoraks as possible, but love is blind, as they say. However, before I left a card for him and got myself into all sorts of bother, someone told me he is married. Sigh.

I am not a home-wrecker, so there I was with a very nice card and no one to send it to, so I just left it on the big man’s desk instead. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

He will think it was Scary Mary, of course. Everyone knows she has a thing for him. Her eyes follow him wherever he goes, and she often has a hot flush after she talks to him. She is always looking for excuses to go into his office and close the door. All the better to bitch about me, I imagine. Last time she went in there to tell him I had taken two hours for lunch.

Looking at handbags

And then there was the time she caught me looking at handbags on the internet. She even told him about the time I took a pink highlighter from the stationery cupboard before my old one was fully used up. Grrr.

And it’s not just me. She has given up remarking on when Lazy Susan gets in late, because it would be like reporting on the morning sunrise, but she will rush in to Big Bad Boss the moment Susan doesn’t fill in her holiday form properly. I mean really, how petty can you get? I blame the menopause. Unlike most department secretaries, Mary sees her main objective as to upset as many members of the department as possible. Apart from Big Bad Boss, of course. Her own masterful hero. Well, this card should stir things up a bit.

When he gets back from a meeting, Big Bad Boss comes straight back out of his office and looks round suspiciously. We are all there as usual. Me. Lazy Susan. Scary Mary. Mary looks back at him and smiles coyly. I think I see him shudder a little, but perhaps I am imagining it.

Something is up

He calls me into his office and closes the door. I can imagine Scary Mary’s chagrin. Something is up and, for once, she is not party to it. Too bad. He asks me what time I got in and who was here early. I am not falling for that one. I got in around the same time as Scary Mary, I say. Lazy Susan got in at the normal time, that is to say a good hour after everyone else.

I glance across the room. I know he has read the card because I can see my pink envelope in the bin, but alongside it there is another one. A big red one. I think I can see the edge of two cards stashed under a paper in his briefcase. Well, well, well.

Big problem

Now Big Bad Boss may be a man, but he must have noticed Scary Mary’s interest in him. No one could be that obtuse. Now he has a big problem. One card from Scary Mary is, well, scary – but two cards?

I look back at him and unexpectedly meet his eye. He holds my gaze for just a second too long. Eeeeuw. He thinks it was me. Well, it was me. But not really me. Not in sentiment, anyway. How am I going to get out of this one? Is it lunchtime yet? I scuttle off hurriedly.

As I leave, Scary Mary sweeps in and sits herself down in front of his desk. She waits for me to close the door before starting up, so I don’t hear what she has to say. Well, for once she can’t complain about my lunch hour as I haven’t even gone yet.

After lunch, I am feeling much more relaxed. I have had a good meal in town, for a start. And I have checked out that new IT bloke on the HR system. He isn’t married; he is divorced. There is still time to leave a card in his post tray, then. Just as well I bought an extra one. Hurrah.

Skulking about

I must have been skulking about outside IT, surreptitiously trying to deliver a card, when that horse-faced woman from marketing came by our department. Now she is ensconced in Big Bad Boss’s office with the door closed. Through the blinds I can see a bit, though. He is sort of cowering behind his desk. She has her hands on her hips and is thrusting out her rather statuesque chest. Scary Mary sees this too and is beside herself with jealousy. Ha. That will teach her. Should have kept quiet about the long lunches, that’s what I say.

When Horseface finally comes out, about an hour later, Big Bad Boss wipes his forehead with his handkerchief. He is not having a good day. Why Horseface should suddenly take an interest in reward policy and bother him about it today of all days is, of course, one of those unexplained mysteries of life.

Just like why, unlikely as it may seem, that someone should send Horseface a valentine card signed BBB in pink highlighter. There are some things that are destined to remain shrouded in mystery for all time.

Next time…Candid thinks about dying.