Part 13 – Casual!
Graeme, closed the briefcase and locked it inside his desk.
It was almost lunchtime and he was feeling nervous with excitement. A feeling he hadn’t had for over 25 years.
This was the first time that he hadn’t worn his suit to work in as long as he could remember. It was part uniform, part comfort blanket and he’d worn one suit or another to the bank every day for the past 30 years since he had started as a young teller.
His suits had changed over the years, beginning with those cheap suits from Littlewoods that his parents had bought him, then when he qualified in 1990 and earning a reasonable age, he could afford a fashionably double breasted suit from Next.
Those became passé in the early naughties and he moved to a three-button and now a more classically cut two-button fit, made to measure from that little independent tailors on Howard Street.
Now that he is the regional retail director at the hank, he could afford to pay a little extra for his uniform to put some distance between himself and the young upstarts and it helped that the company gave him a generous clothing allowance.
Today he had woke up with a smile on his face, the first time that he had done so in a very long time. But there was no time for dreaming, time was of the essence and his routine was tight, he had to get the kids up and take them to school and then run for the train. The 8:45 at Cambuslang usually got him into the office at 9:05, enough time to expect everyone else to be there and to notice any absentees on his arrival.
Somehow today, he didn’t feel so rushed, somehow today lateness and absentees didn’t really matter. His mind was on other things and he these petty things seemed below him.
The train was packed as usual, all the same people, heading to work, normally he didn’t even look at them and was too busy thinking about his meetings of the day and getting home early to be certain that he collected the Emily and James from the after-school service on time.
Normally he would stand at the door, making sure he would be first to leave the train and make his way up the stairs before they became crowded from the masses of 8 carriages trying to simultaneously make it up that one small stairway.
But he decided that there was no rush, the sun was shining and he felt warm inside, he took a seat opposite the man typing into the iPhone. He had seen this man in the jeans and tan boots many times over the years and he always seems to be typing into that iPhone.
He wondered what the man does? He sat down opposite him and for a moment he looked up and smiled then carried on typing. Ten minutes later they had arrived at Glasgow Central without saying a word and went their separate ways.
Graeme sauntered up Buchanan Street, looking in the windows of Frasers and Timberland, then stopping in front of Hugo Boss to look at their display of casual clothes, normally he would have gave the suits a quick glance but today was different.
He was aware that his appearance in the office would catch people’s attention and there would be questions from the people close enough to him to ask and whispers from those others who don’t really know him but wanted to know.
He walked through the main doors of the lobby, showing his pass to the security officers, aware of the raised eyebrows on the faces of these normally unflinching passive faces.
As the lift reached the fourth floor, he took a deep breathe knowing that the moment he walked through the door the gossip would start.
“Good morning Eileen!” He called to the receptionist as he stepped from the lift.
“Good morning sir!” She replied, like some old-fashioned secretary or a primary school-child still showing respect to their teacher before all discipline is lost.
“For heavens sake Eileen, don’t call me sir!” He had told her so many times and even asked Fraser to mention it in her quarterly appraisals. Tell her that it was unnecessary and actually quite unacceptable in the modern office and to come into the 21st century.
“Yes si .. Graeme” she corrected her self and blushed as she turned back to her PC.
He exchanged a few “Good mornings” as he walked through the open plan area to his office at the back, even a “Looking good” from someone behind him who’s voice he didn’t quite recognise.
Fiona, his PA, smiled at him as he approached, then started to finish of her personal phone call, telling whoever it was that she would call back at lunchtime.
He felt a slight relief and more relaxed as he made his private office and took off the causal jacket and slid into his chair.
Fiona arrived within moments, she’d been his PA for over ten years now, she knew most of his ups and downs both business and personal and he trusted her implicitly.
She quickly went through his meeting for the day, all internal meetings with the team or conference calls and no business meetings, nothing where he had to wear his uniform.
But he knew what she really wanted to know.
“So …. How did last night go then? Do you want to talk about it?”
“Hmmmm .. fantastic .. I think I’m in love!”
“Really? Did it go that well?” Fiona seemed somehow surprised.
“Yes, she is absolutely gorgeous and we had a great time.”
“I’m delighted for you, you deserve to have some happiness after the past few years. So when are you seeing her again?”
“We’re meeting for lunch”
“Aaah, that explains the jeans and the causal clothes”
“No big deal Fiona, it’s just time to make some changes and life has to move on. I know it sounds stupid, but I can’t wait to see her again”
“Good for you, I’m really pleased and hope that it goes really well”
“Thanks Fiona” he said as she vacated the office, noticing the faces looking at her face for an acknowlegement and heading for the kitchen where she’d pass on the word.
Graeme opened the briefcase, took out his laptop and started it up. Then he Maria a text, “Really looking forward to seeing you at 1 x”
Her response came quickly, “Can’t wait to see you too and thanks for being such a genteman last night, I had a really lovely time. X”
He smiled and picked up the phone to start the first conference call of the day, even although he knew that it would be hard to focus when his mind keeps wandering to thoughts of her blonde hair, long legs and tender kisses.