Who's Who 12: Copy Paste

“I hope you realise I’m irreplaceable,” I announced when I handed in my notice.

Maybe it was a bit much. I mean, you’re certainly entitled to think such things, but saying it to people’s faces might be seen as a faux pas.

Don’t get me wrong, they deserved it. I’d been festering behind that desk for those idiots and their historic brand for years. I’d dedicated my life to slaving over a hot keyboard and spending far too many nights in dry, lonely hotels all over the world thanks to the global think-tanks I’d attended for them.

It’d been an uphill battle from the start. The place was teeming dinosaurs. Large, lumbering lizards with sweat patches under their arms and last night’s ale lingering on their breath. They weren’t ready for someone to come in and tell them how to avoid going extinct.

A few threw their toys out the pram at the sight of me. Others gathered up their things and ran for the hills once I started making changes. A couple had tried to outflank me with the directors but, bless their cotton socks, they’d forgotten who’d hired me to pull their scaly tails out of the path of the asteroid in the first place.

We managed some victories. I was able to build a team to keep the company on topic. I’d occasionally sat in meetings where a dinosaur would ask what we could do to promote something on ‘Insta’ or suggest a little ‘blue sky thinking’.

Still, they made damned sure I never progressed. Which was why I found myself a better job and told them, in no uncertain terms, that we were done. Not that I stormed out once I’d said my piece. No, I served my notice. I turned up every day on time and didn’t start passing the buck. I saw those final weeks as a chance to secure all my improvements to the place, whilst they went about staffing my position.

It was around then that I started suspecting they were pulling some parting prank on me. It began with the coffee. Maybe they were switching the pods on me, giving me the cheap stuff. It’d never tasted so bland before. Then there was the food in the canteen. It always tasted off to me, but everyone else said theirs were fine.

My profile photo went missing from my emails. The IT department tried to tell me it’d been deleted early, in a bid to maintain efficiency, but I could’ve sworn I’d seen it recently. Printed out, maybe. I just couldn’t remember where. To be fair, I was pretty tired back then.

I remember the plants in my office all died on the same day. My parking space developed a deep crack and had to be coned off. The pen they’d given me as a present when I started ran out of ink and had to be taken away, never to be returned.

And then there was my replacement. I never saw her. She always came in when I was out. I heard rumours, though. My team said…well, they said she looked a bit like me. About my height. Same hair colour. When they asked where I’d been, I could never say for sure. I must’ve been with a customer or in some meeting. I just couldn’t remember clearly. My memories were turning slippery.

The strangest thing was the hair, now that I think about it. One of my team said my replacement had shorter hair than me. The next day, when I went to work, people commented on how much they liked my new do. Which would’ve been nice, if I could remember getting it cut.

I tried to book a couple of days off but kept finding myself at work. I handed back my company car and collected my new one. The next morning, there was my old one, back on the drive. My other half didn’t understand why I was getting so stressed about it.

I remember my last day. I have a card, somewhere. They gave me a card and some flowers and…and there was a present. A pen, I think. I signed something important with it. My last proof, perhaps.

I remember I stopped in to say goodbye to the directors and they seemed a little quiet. They had some old stone ornament sitting in the centre of their long, gleaming table. A whisper of smoke curling from its burnt contents.

I left them to it and I think I heard laughter. Or singing. I didn’t go back to check. I went home and…and today I came here. It feels good to be here. It feels like home. The faces all feel so familiar and the directors all smile when they see me.

Who can blame them? I’m irreplaceable.