Home > My Not So Perfect Life(7)

My Not So Perfect Life(7)
Author: Sophie Kinsella

Flora’s theory is that Demeter’s so paranoid about being overtaken by her young staff that she won’t help anyone. If you even try to climb the ladder, she stamps on your fingers with her Miu Miu shoes. Apparently Rosa’s desperate to leave Cooper Clemmow now—but there’s not a lot out there in this market. So here poor Rosa stays, stuck with a boss she hates, basically loathing every moment of her work. You can see it in her hunched shoulders and frowning brow.

Mark also loathes Demeter, and I know the story there too. Demeter’s supposed to oversee the design team. Oversee, not do it all herself. But she can’t stop herself. Design is Demeter’s thing—design and packaging. She knows the names of more typefaces than you can imagine, and sometimes she interrupts a meeting just to show us all some packaging design that she thinks really works. Which is, you know, great. But it’s also a problem, because she’s always wading in.

So last year Cooper Clemmow refreshed the branding of a big moisturizer called Drench, and it was Demeter’s idea to go pale orange with white type. Well, it’s been this massive hit, and we’ve won all sorts of prizes. All good—except for Mark, who’s head of design. Apparently he’d already created this whole other design package. But Demeter came up with the orange idea, mocked it up herself, and flung it out there at a client meeting. And apparently Mark felt totally belittled.

The worst thing is, Demeter didn’t even notice that Mark was pissed off. She doesn’t pick up on things like that. She’s all high five, great work team, move on, next project. And then it was such a huge hit that Mark could hardly complain. I mean, in some ways, he’s lucky: He got a load of credit for that redesign. He can put it on his CV and everything. But still. He’s all bristly and has this sarcastic way of talking to Demeter which makes me wince.

The sad thing is, everyone else in the office knows Mark is really talented. Like, he’s just won the Stylesign Award for Innovation. (Apparently it’s some really prestigious thing.) But it’s as if Demeter doesn’t even realize what a great head of design she has.

Liz isn’t that happy here either, but she puts up with it. Flora, on the other hand, bitches about Demeter all the time, but I think that’s because she loves bitching. I’m not sure about the others.

As for me, I’m still the new girl. I’ve only been here seven months and I keep my head down and don’t venture my opinion too much. But I do have ambition; I do have ideas. I’m all about design too, especially typography—in fact, that’s what Demeter and I talked about in my interview.

Whenever a new project comes into the office, my brain fires up. I’ve put together so many bits of spec work in my spare time on my laptop. Logos, design concepts, strategy documents…I keep emailing them to Demeter, for feedback, and she keeps promising she will look at them, when she has a moment.

Everyone says you mustn’t chivvy Demeter or she flies off the handle. So I’m biding my time, like a surfer waiting for a wave. I’m pretty good at surfing, as it happens, and I know the wave will come. When the moment is right, I’ll get Demeter’s attention. She’ll look at my stuff, everything will click, and I’ll start riding my life. Not paddling, paddling, paddling, like I am right now.

I’m just picking up my next survey from the pile when Hannah, another of our designers, enters the office. There’s a general gasp and Flora turns to raise her eyebrows at me. Poor Hannah had to go home on Friday. She really wasn’t well. She’s had about five miscarriages over the last two years, and it’s left her a bit vulnerable, and occasionally she has a panic attack. It happened Friday, so Rosa told her to go home and have a rest. The truth is, Hannah works probably the hardest in the office. I’ve seen emails from her at 2:00 A.M. She deserves a bit of a break.

“Hannah!” Rosa exclaims. “Are you OK? Take it really easy today.”

“I’m fine,” says Hannah, slipping into her seat, avoiding everyone’s eye. “I’m fine.” She instantly opens up a document and starts work, sipping from a bottle of filtered tap water. (Cooper Clemmow launched the brand, so we all have these freebie neon bottles on our desks.)

“Hannah!” Demeter appears at the door of her office. “You’re back. Well done.”

“I’m fine,” says Hannah yet again. I can tell she doesn’t want any fuss made, but Demeter comes right over to her desk.

“Now, please don’t worry, Hannah,” she says in her ringing, authoritative tones. “No one thinks you’re a drama queen or anything like that. So don’t worry about it at all.”

She gives Hannah a friendly nod, then strides back into her office and shuts her door. The rest of us are watching, dumbstruck, and poor Hannah looks absolutely stricken. As soon as Demeter is back in her office, she turns to Rosa.

“Do you all think I’m a drama queen?” she gulps.

“No!” exclaims Rosa at once, and I can hear Liz muttering, “Bloody Demeter.”

“Listen, Hannah,” Rosa continues, heading to Hannah’s desk, crouching down, and looking her straight in the eye. “You’ve just been Demetered.”

“That’s right,” agrees Liz. “You’ve been Demetered.”

“It happens to us all. She’s an insensitive cow and she says stupid stuff and you just have to not listen, OK? You’ve done really well coming in today, and we all really appreciate the effort you’ve made. Don’t we?” She looks around and a spatter of applause breaks out, whereupon Hannah’s cheeks flush with pleasure.

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