“Salaries are low. New business is low. Morale is low. We cannot do much about the first and second in these tough economic times,” booms Gerald Schwarz, our mustachioed, purple-suited CEO. “But we certainly can about the third!”
You can spot those of us who’ve been here more than six months – we’re not looking even faintly hopeful. “Yes, it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for…” He can speak for himself there, although we are all silently urging him to get on with it – it’s freezing up here on the rooftop car park, the brainchild of a particularly witless ’70s architect. No-one bothers to use it much, mainly just the CEO still impressed by the novelty value. He told Lorna Davis when he was drunk at Christmas that he likes to pretend he’s just arrived by helicopter as he strides down from the roof.
It’s bleak up here. The whole building’s fashioned out of that particularly horrible brown-grey concrete that ages so badly. The offices inside are reasonably unpleasant, with poky windows and bad carpets, but up here feels positively post-apocalyptic. It looks like something a Cold War Communist would have turned down for being too austere and forbidding.
Gerald is almost hopping from one foot to another in childish excitement. There’s something quite big under a large blue cover next to him and, whatever it is, it’s really got him going.
“Ta-da!” He whips the cover away and we’re confronted with an eye. A giant silver one, some sort of sculpture.
“Isn’t it a beauty? I know we’re all going to get so much joy out of it. It’s called ‘Extraordinary Vision’ and, as soon as I clapped eyes on it – if you’ll pardon the pun! – I knew that it summed up what we as a company need to have to succeed in hard times, and it’s what every one of you has inside you.”
The crowd is silently underwhelmed. It must have cost thousands; it would have been far better for morale to give us all a hundred quid, or at least some drinks and nibbles. Why’s it on the roof? Who’s going to relax in their lunchbreak 30 storeys up in the air in a gale force wind in Aberdeen, for God’s sake? Gerald has some terrible, crazed ideas but this is the best one yet. I can’t look at The Eye without getting the giggles. I accidentally look at a colleague and we both have to glance down at our feet and fake small coughing fits.
When I trust myself to look up again, I see that half the people gathered on the roof are silently in stitches. People keep looking at The Eye, then catching other people’s eyes and convulsing. Gerald looks staggered, the wind blowing his hair and tie askew, as he faces 200 goose-bumped employees, balanced on a freezing rooftop, so quiet you could hear a pin drop, yet all shaking and shaking and shaking with silent laughter.