Gladys: I’ll have a large one please, Mavis.
Mavis: Right…and would you like anything to drink?
Gladys: Just a small vodka and coke, I think.
Mavis: OK then. That’s two small vegetarian burgers and one large, a lager for Lil and two vodkas with coke. I’ll just go and order, girls. Back in a minute.
Lil: I must say, when Mavis mentioned Chippendale’s, I was expecting something a little different.
Sheila: You don’t say!
Gladys: I think it’s very good of Mavis to treat us like this. It’s a nice enough pub and at least you can hear yourself speak.
Sheila: Well, we couldn’t keep holding meetings in that broom cupboard. How is your hip, Gladys?
Gladys: Oh, I get the odd twinge now and again, but otherwise fine thanks, Sheila.
Lil: Don’t get me wrong, girls, I appreciate Mavis’ generosity. I’m just used to a little more, shall we say, elegance.
Sheila: I thought even you would have to cut back a little on that extravagant lifestyle of yours, Lil, in these stringent times.
Lil: Stringent times? Oh, the unfortunate economic situation, you mean? No, no. It hasn’t hit us as hard as others. People still need their offices cleaning and besides, Clive’s planning on letting another two of our staff go next week – to keep the profit margin up, you know.
Gladys: The profit margin? Has he thought it might be a good idea to allow his profits to fall a little, so he can show a little loyalty to his workers?
Sheila: Yes, you know, Lil, that thing that your staff showed you when you sacked a third of them for daring to ask for the minimum wage that time. You never know, you may need them again if and when things pick up.
Lil: Clive didn’t sack them; he just didn’t renew their contract. When the situation improves, we’ll always be able to find new cleaners. Anyway, we were talking about possibly outsourcing the work to Latvia. People there work for half the wage they do here.
Gladys: Latvia? Are you mad? How the heck are they going to get over here to do their job at six in the morning?
Lil: Apparently, they have a very good public transport system and, anyway, a friend of ours owns a haulage firm, so rather than waste all that space in the back of his trucks…
Stefan: Just here is it?
Mavis: Oh, yes thanks, Stefan. That’s very kind.
Stefan: Not at all. I was on my way up here anyway.
Goran: Whose is the lager?
Lil: That’ll be mine. I normally have a black Russian at lunch time, but…
Goran: Oh, couldn’t he make it?
Lil: What? No. I thought it would be too expensive for Mavis.
Goran: Oh, right.
Mavis: Girls, this is Stefan – the short one – and the tall, funny one is Goran. They work for the number four bank in Europe for profligacy, Salamanca.
Goran: Actually, we’re also number eleven in the world. We would’ve been number ten, but we desked an ineligible processor and were deducted three points.
Gladys: Oh, that is a shame!
Lil: I thought all the banks were making huge losses and being bailed out by the Government. How can, er…
Lil: Yes, Scaramanga. How can they be such a great success where all others are failing?
Stefan: By employing a contingent morality toward their workforce and instilling an unrealistic expectation of service levels in their customers.
Goran: By letting staff numbers run down, while making those who are left work harder to meet tighter targets.
Gladys: Sound familiar, Lil?
Lil: It merely reinforces what I’ve said already and shows that no matter how large or small the business, they all have to be run along the same lines.
Stefan: Until they hit the buffers!
Goran: At which point, unfortunately, it’s the workers who are thrown through the windows onto the embankment, while the bosses have their falls cushioned by large pay-offs and even larger secretaries.
Gladys: So, knowing that, why do you still work for a company that you know will drop you like a sack of fertiliser as soon as it feels it necessary, no matter how hard you work or how good a job you do?
Goran: Well, they gave us an Easter egg, so one feels obliged.
Lil: An Easter egg, eh? Hmmm…
Sheila: I don’t think that would be enough to buy my loyalty.
Goran: It was a Cadbury’s Caramel egg!
Sheila: Even so! Still, it’s your choice, I suppose.
Stefan: Unfortunately, at our age and in the present economic climate, the choice reduces to prostitution or destitution.
Goran: And I haven’t got the body for either!
Stefan: Very funny. I mean we continue to be employed by a company that resents us for being a recurring cost, simply because we need the money, or we leave and risk ending up on the street because the Government wouldn’t recognise our reason for leaving as being legitimate and so wouldn’t give us any benefit.
Gladys: It’s Catch 22.
Goran: Catch 44 actually. It’s twice as bad!
Barman: Anyone order vegetarian burgers?
Mavis: Oh, yes, that’s us. Thanks very much.
Stefan: (to barman) Sorry, but I couldn’t help noticing. Didn’t they used to come with a mushroom and a floury bap?
Barman: They did, yes, but we took those out when we put the price up. We weren’t making enough on the meals.
Stefan: Ah, okay. On that note, we’ll leave you ladies to enjoy your meal. Nice meeting you.
Mavis: You too, Stefan, Goran. Well, they seemed like very nice gentlemen.
Lil: I couldn’t understand what the little one was on about.
Gladys: No, but the tall one was very charming. Sauce anyone?