“Horse!” barked the Supervisor.
Jeremy Workhorse shot out of his chair and snapped a salute. “Yessir?”
“How’s your workload, Horse?”
Horse cast a look down at his desk, which groaned under the weight of files and papers. “Er,” he said. “Loaded, sir.”
“You’re at capacity, then, Horse?”
“Yessir. You could say that, sir.”
Super nodded. “And you can’t take on any more work?”
“Nossir. And my pen’s nearly out of ink. You know, the last one from the pack I bought with my own money, sir.” Horse sounded like a man who talked without the expectation of being listened to.
Super took a breath.
“Good lad,” Super boomed, and clapped Horse on the shoulder hard enough to drive him back down into his seat. “Volunteering for another ten files. Knew we could count on you. Keep up the good work.”
“Yessir,” Horse mumbled, shoulders slumping.
Super moved on to stand behind the next worker. “Twitchy!”
Twitchy jumped, sending a cascade of papers to the floor, and turned to look at the Supervisor. “Super?”
Twitchy’s mouth worked soundlessly for a minute. He asked again, “Super?”
“Work, Twit. You. More.”
Twitchy’s hands shook. His eyelids fluttered. His foot spasmed under the desk. His mouth opened, and closed, and opened again.
“Super,” Twitchy muttered finally.
“Glad you think so,” Super agreed, and moved on. “Indie!”
“Shut up and sod off,” said Indifference Jones without looking around.
“Good job, that woman. Keep it up.” Super’s bland smile didn’t budge an inch. He moved on. “Angel.”
A cloud of blonde hair gazed up at him adoringly. “Yes, Super?”
“How are you, Angel?”
“I’m super, Super, and how are you?”
Super perched on the edge of Angel’s desk and nodded to the single file by her brand new computer. “I’m super myself, Angel. You’re not too busy, are you?”
Across the room, Horse snorted.
“No, Super,” said Angel.
“Are you doing alright?”
Twitchy’s hand spasmed, and a paper aeroplane came dangerously close to landing in Angel’s golden hair.
“You’re Super?” asked Super.
“No, Super,” Angel laughed. “I’m Angel. You’re Super.”
Indie bent over her rubbish bin and made retching noises.
Super patted Angel’s hand. “Thank you for the compliment. Be sure to tell me if there’s anything you need, won’t you?”
“Yes, Super. Thank you.”
Super moved on. “Flounder!”
A hand appeared in the middle of the mountain of papers covering the last desk.
“Flounder!” Super snapped again.
The hand waved frantically.
“Flounder! Where is that boy?”
Papers shifted and a dark head broke the surface, gasping for air. “Here, sir.”
“Ah, there you are! What took you so long?”
Arms outstretched to either side, Flounder looked down at the papers that swallowed him to mid-chest. There was a distinct impression of legs churning under the surface to keep him upright. “Um. Sorry? Sir.”
“Apology accepted,” Super said, nodding majestically. “I’ll let you off because you’re new. Don’t let it happen again.”
Flounder blinked. “Sorry?”
“There’s no time for dilly-dallying,” said Super. “We need you up to speed, understood?”
“Er,” said Flounder. “Could I maybe get some help then, sir?”
Super smiled and tutted. “I hate to say it, Flounder, but you’re not sounding very much like a team player.”
Flounder shifted his weight and sank to his armpits. “I don’t understand? Sir.”
“I can’t give you special treatment. It wouldn’t be fair on the others. Do you see me giving them help? No. You need to shape up, be a team player, and start pulling your weight, Flounder.”
“I can pull my weight.” Flounder’s voice rose. The papers rose too, touching his bottom lip. “Just give me the chance to get on top of this pile, and — ”
Super shook his head sadly. “I’m sorry, I can’t spare any more time today. Feel free to reach out and let me know if you have any issues.”
“I am letting you know — !”
Flounder’s voice faded. The boy sank back under his mountain of paperwork.
Super moved back to his office and shut the door.
He sighed happily. Yes, it was good to communicate with his team. As any manager knew, communication was the key to a happy workplace, and a happy workplace was a productive workplace. His team had communicated with him, therefore they were happy, therefore they were productive.
He drew a large red tick through the month’s Productivity chart on his wall and sat back in his chair, satisfied. It had been a job well done.