A man called David Moyes began a new job today.
I like to imagine that he had a first day on a new job like many people do. I imagine he is the kind of man to turn up early, perhaps he had to sit around in the reception area while someone from HR arrived.
“David?” a middle-aged friendly-looking woman would ask.
“Aye,” he would say instinctively, before apologising and answering in English (his second language): “Yes, I’m David m’am. David William – but my friends just call me David.”
“Well then David – you’d best come with me while I show you around.”
After a tour of the canteen, the toilets, the different offices and the media rooms he would feel dizzied by it all: at his previous job they had just had one portakabin from which he ran the whole club. “Are you OK, David?” asked the woman who he had since learned was called Patricia.
Moyes once again slipped into his native tongue, answering “Aye”. He paused and took a deep breath. This was huge, immense: this was Manchester United. He was the manager of the biggest football club in the world – except possibly Barcelona and Real Madrid. He had so much to do and so little time to do it, where to begin?
“You’re going to have to read this and sign it,” said Patricia suggesting where he would start – it was the club’s acceptable use policy for internet and email usage. After that he was left in a room for a while. There were other desks and computers besides the one he was sat at – but no-one seemed to be in the office today. He looked at his watch, 11.40, maybe they had gone for an early lunch.
Soon Patricia returned. “Sorry about that David – we’d normally be giving you your contract about now but we’re having a problem with one of your references. East Dumbarton Kwik Save aren’t replying – we just need to verify that the store has closed down before we can accept that there will be no reference.”
That’s a blow, thought Moyes, Mr McSpocktontweet sure thought highly of me. He needn’t have worried: Mr Kenwright had rated David as ‘Very Good’ in all of Manchester United’s reference proformas. It was highly unlikely the absence of a reference from a stint as a shelf stacker 35 years ago would get in the way of anything. But process was process.
“Nae bother Patricia. Might I get a wee snack?” He asked, now freely speaking Scottish – Patricia having explained that all staff at Manchester United now understood basic Scottish because of a course initiated by his predecessor. “Oh David, I’m so sorry – I’m on this new diet and I don’t have lunch on it until tea time. And then at tea time you have cereal…I’ve lost four pounds. Anyway, listen to me going on with myself. I’ll show you the ropes at the canteen.”
Patricia showed David the canteen and explained, in too much detail, how to ask the chefs for food – from the menu listed on the wall – and take it to a table and eat it. He saw Brian McClair and the physiotherapist Rob Swires laughing at a table. He had half a mind to sit with them and discuss what they thought of Brazil-Spain the previous night, before thinking he would prefer to sit alone and think to himself about the game instead. After finishing their food Swires and McClair walked past and nodded in his direction. Despite himself Moyes nodded back.What was wrong with him?? He had never been so shockingly desperate to be accepted. He made a mental note to show more composure when the players arrived on Wednesday.
The afternoon was more enrolment. Moyes had to do a fire safety e-learning module (100% on the quiz at the end), an eye test (20-2o vision was the result, despite Moyles not having 20-20 vision, but his eyes worked harder than the eyes of people with better eyesight) and a 90-minute health and safety lecture, during which Moyes pointed out several inaccuracies and ended up delivering the last 15 minutes to the original lecturer.
Towards the end of the day Moyes was becoming frustrated at not being able to do some proper work. He noticed everyone had gone for a coffee break at around three o’clock. While no-one was watching he restocked all the photocopiers, replied to some emails and cleaned the first floor windows.
He was just replacing his suit jacket as Patricia returned from the afternoon break. “David love, what are you doing sat here all on your own? I was looking for you in the canteen – ” She stopped and looked at windows thinking that they were, if anything, perhaps too clean all of a sudden. “- Here’s a document explaining how the T&A works, a form that shows how many holidays you have and a form you need to complete for accounts with your bank details.”
By the time Patricia returned and checked David’s forms it had gone four o’clock. He’d been sat growing annoyed at the lack of things to do after reading the forms Patricia had given him. “You may as well get off love, there’s not really much more doing today. It’ll be busier by Wednesday when the players arrive,” Patricia said to him kindly as she pulled on her coat.
“Patricia you’ve been very kind today, very kind -“
“There’s no need to thank me, David, I’m just doing my job,” she interjected.
“Not any more Patricia. I’m afraid this was your last day. I’m going to let you go with immediate effect. I will be docking you an hours pay if you’re leaving now as you’re contracted to do a seven hour day.”
“Oh my…..I don’t know what to say. I love this job.” (tears)
“Don’t take it personally – I just want to bring in my own HR woman from Everton. Nothing personal,” he said leading her out of the door.
He returned to collect his jacket. He picked up a phone and arranged for a headhunting firm to line up the best HR employees in the country. He felt bad about the story about bringing in the HR woman from Everton. The truth was he had sacked the head of HR at Everton on his last day because she was had worn her son’s Liverpool scarf after dressing in a rush. He felt bad about the story because it showed that he had been overly sentimental: he had dismissed her because she had come back from her break 90 seconds late in the afternoon – he should have been honest about that.
He would make up for it by being honest should he have to write a reference for her in future.
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