‘Sam said something about having to go meet two 20-year-old cousins who are up for it, and is off to theirs. Said they’d loads of coke. I thought it was a joke. Now it’s been over an hour, I’m not so sure!’
I’ve only been working here for a few weeks, and while I’ve chatted a little bit with everyone, I still don’t know anyone very well. As far as offices go, it’s one of the nicest places I’ve ever worked in, very swish! Stylish desks, big computer monitors, and the printer/copier looks like it might not jam all the time. The kitchen is small, but beautifully designed, with free food and hot drinks. Most of all I love how friendly and caring my new colleagues are.
Like most offices, the kitchen is where everyone ends up sooner rather than later. It’s also right behind my desk, so I tend to hear everyone’s conversations. Maybe some day I’ll be forced to wear headphones to get anything done, but in the meantime, it’s a good way to learn more about my co-workers, who are fairly evenly split between men and women.
Monday 14 May
Most of us are in at 9 a.m. A few people were on annual leave last week, taking advantage of the bank holiday but they’re back now, full of stories. Everyone has been loving the sunshine. The kettle was getting a workout until someone decides to just make a cuppa for everyone.
Sam, one of our best web developers, isn’t here yet but nobody seems to be overly concerned. I caught Louise rolling her eyes, but for the most part, Sam is well liked, and I’ve heard, a genius coder who can make a website do anything you can imagine.
Oh wait, Sam’s come in – stumbled in, more like. I can smell the alcohol wafting from here. I’m struggling to stop staring. I get a glare from Sam. This is followed by a leer. ‘Like what you’re looking at, love?’ I say nothing and pretend to be reading an email.
Sam sits down and logs in. Someone brings over a coffee, which is received with something halfway between a moan and a grunt. Sam’s phone is going off constantly. Sam ignores it, along with the various disapproving noises Louise is starting to make.
After lunch I notice that Sam’s not in the office anymore. Even though it’s really none of my business, I ask Neil – he seems to be pretty good buddies with Sam, and I figure he’d know where Sam was if anyone did. Neil said, ‘I don’t know – Sam said something about having to go meet two 20-year-old cousins who are up for it, and is off to theirs, said they had a load of coke, but I thought it was a joke. Now that it’s been over an hour, I’m not so sure!’
Tuesday 15 May
A fairly uneventful day. Went for lunch with Louise, who seems nice, and showed me a sandwich shop I’d never noticed before. The office is pretty angry at Sam though, who never showed up yesterday afternoon or today, hasn’t answered any texts, IMs, emails or voicemails. It’s now going on 30 hours since even Neil has heard anything. Our manager is cool when it comes to flextime, but it’s more that it’s up to us to make up our hours each week, whether during business hours, working from home, or the occasional late night while on deadline, not for going AWOL.
Wednesday 16 May
I get in extra early and to my surprise, Sam’s already working away. I get a big smile, but Sam is hyper-focused on the computer monitor, typing frenetically. If it weren’t for the fact that Sam was wearing the same clothes as Monday, I’d think it was a normal day.
It’s just the two of us, and Sam’s acting normal, with absolutely no concern over ‘the disappearance’ the office started calling it yesterday. Tells me about passing out for 24 hours straight – ‘couldn’t believe it!’
Soon other people start arriving and tease Sam about it. Sam gleefully starts in a tale about Monday night to a captivated audience. Tells us all about the 20-year-old cousins with a load of coke. Brags about a threesome. We’re hanging on every word, especially when Sam mentions texting Michelle, the cute receptionist on the first floor who is renowned for her short skirts and high heels, and invites her and her boyfriend Tom to join them after work. That’s not all. Sam also texts a stripper from the previous weekend’s binge and she joins them, with more cocaine, at 1 am. Next thing Sam knew it was Wednesday morning so decided to just head back to the office.
That afternoon, right before we’re all set to head out to a nearby bar, I’m in the ladies’ toilet putting on a bit of lipstick and re-doing my hair. Someone keeps leaving used tampons beside one of the toilets – it’s friggin’ disgusting.
It’s my first time going out with everyone and I’m a bit nervous. I get Louise to promise to let me sit by her and Neil.
The evening starts out just like any other work night out – cocktails are ordered. I’m not saying much but having a good time. Sam is sitting beside me. Neil’s on my other side. Louise is across from me. Sam’s phone is on the table. Notifications flash constantly. Sam gets bored and starts scrolling through Tinder.
A local bar where our team started their night. From where I’m sitting I can see everything Sam is typing. It’s rude to look but eff it, I’m just so curious. ‘Oi ya little tart – fancy a shag?’
A message back to a 45-year-old woman ‘you’re way too flippin’ old, what’s your daughter like?’, to a third ‘hey babe – send me a picture of your knockers’.
Later, I’m heading back from the loo when I see that half of the table is empty. Louise stops me. ‘You don’t want to go back there just yet. Sam just puked all over the floor and the waiter is pissed.
Sam just stood there, watching the waiter get on his knees and clean up the slick of vomit, like it was the most natural thing in the world for him to do.
Soon after, the bouncer kicked Sam out but said the rest of us could stay. Neil left with Sam – probably to take Sam home.
Thursday 17 May
Last night our manager said we could be a bit late today when he left the bar, so most of us are rolling in around 10 or so. Not surprisingly, everyone’s talking about Sam’s puking incident. Sam comes in at 11:30, doesn’t seem bothered by our teasing and soon we all fall quiet and try to get some work done.
I go for lunch with Neil, who fills me in on the rest of his night.
‘Oh man – what a nightmare Sam is after a few drinks! Insisted we go to this dive bar. Started yelling at the band, was mad at them because they didn’t want to play the song Sam asked for – told them to go f**k themselves. Switched to tequila slammers and I tried to keep up. Sam kept chatting women up and groping them, but after a while they started avoiding us. Even asked them all for a hump in the toilets! I tried to get Sam under control, but it was no use. The steroid-pumped bouncers were already mad that Sam was bothering the band, and then when a couple of the girls complained, he threw us both out – barred for life, he said. But I didn’t friggin’ do anything!’
I went home after work, but suddenly got an idea for a story I was stuck on, so I headed back to the office to finish writing it. I figured I’d take advantage of the quiet to really concentrate, but as I walked in, Sam was entertaining two women in our conference room. All three of them were half naked, laughing like loons while dancing around the table. Sam gave no sign of embarrassment, just waved like you would if you saw your mate down at the pub a few tables over. Whatever idea I had for finishing that story evaporated, so I left the office to Sam’s little party and got the heck out of there.
Friday 18 May
I do love this office. We’re going out again tonight, even though we all just went out two nights ago! I’ve worked other places where everyone just takes off home once the clock strikes five.
It started out almost as a repeat of Wednesday, except we had to choose a bar that Sam hadn’t vomited in. Louise was mad because she loves that place and told me she wished Sam wasn’t coming.
I’d no plans for the rest of the weekend. I just wanted to get trashed, let off a bit of steam. I felt like I needed a good night out after Wednesday. This time Sam was further down the table, and they were all laughing at Sam’s outrageous Tinder chats – Sam was typing and reading out the chats in real time, daring everyone to come up with even crazier things to say.
At one point, Neil grabbed Sam’s phone to mess about with Tinder. After a while he said, ‘Hey Sam – it’s swipe right to pass, innit?’
Sam roared ‘Bloody Hell! NO! Swipe left to pass! How many mingers did you match me up with? Give it here, you bellend.’
The night wore on. At some point we all soaked up some of the booze at a curry house, and then we were off to another bar to keep on drinking. The table was covered with glasses. At one point I noticed Sam had a bust nose but was too far gone to think of it. A few of us got up to leave – I thought about staying on, but I was out of it. I had just enough brain cells left to know it was time to go home.
Monday 21 May
Got to work this morning, start of a fresh week, and the whole office was buzzing. I soon found out why. Neil was chatting with everyone by the kettle. Talking about the rest of Friday night.
‘Guys – after you left. Total madness. Sam got into a fight in the bogs, some massive bloke, well over 6 feet – could have done some real damage but let Sam off after just a smack in the face.’
I barely remembered that. ‘No – that must have been before we left, I thought Sam’s face looked a bit messed up.’
Neil recounts the rest of the night. ‘We left after that and ended up at a strip club.’
‘As one does…’ Louise snarked.
Neil gave her a look.
‘Anyway, Sam decides we need to pep things up with a few lines of coke. I said to go get effed, but Sam takes off to the toilets and comes back grinning like an idiot. Christ it was bad. I tried asking Sam – ‘what’s got into ya?’ but no answer. When I left Sam was negotiating the fee to shag one of the strippers– I was too far gone and had to go home. I feel bad now that I did though’.
‘At about 5 in the morning I got a text from Sam that didn’t make much sense. I was pooing myself as I went over there. Sam was curled up in a ball beside the bed, all messed up and shaking. I was petrified and knew we had to go to casualty. Not sure what they did at the hospital but I took Sam home and Sleeping Beauty crashed for hours. Doctor wrote a sick note and the manager told me Sam’s out on sick leave indefinitely.’
We listened, stunned to hear Neil’s story, but didn’t hear from Sam that day. Everyone was shocked.
I ended up in the loo a little while later, just as Louise was drying off her hands. Louise sighed when I asked her what she thought about Sam. ‘At least now she’s gone she won’t be making a mess of the ladies’ toilets whenever she’s on her period. I never knew someone could be so bad at throwing away a tampon properly.’
A note from the manager:
Samantha is an excellent worker so her recent behaviour changes were something that I noticed and tried to talk to her about. She always did everything she could to avoid the subject and told me she was fine, but after Neil took her to the hospital, she had to admit that she wasn’t.
I won’t go into the details, but she had been through a really awful experience in her personal life and was having trouble coping. She knew she was getting out of control but couldn’t stop. In the past WDR had offered to pay for a counsellor to help Sam, but only now is she ready to talk.
I’m happy to say that she is now getting help, and the last time I visited her she seems much healthier and calmer. I’ve told her that she is welcome to come back to work when she feels like she’s ready. Sam’s always been a much loved and important part of our team. We are all deeply upset that we didn’t pick up on the warning signs earlier.
Thanks in part to this incident, we have strengthened our policies on how our workplace handles mental health issues. A key part of this is making sure that all of our staff members know that they can come to us for support when they are having a tough time.
We have Sam’s permission to publish this story.
Need Somebody To Talk With?
In the UK there are lots of places that you can find understanding people to talk with, in confidence no matter what is on your mind, a few are below:
The Samaritans are a registered charity with dedicated counsellors just a phone call away. They are available for everybody, regardless of age, race or gender and offer support to people suffering from any sort of crisis.
Despite their rather unimaginative name, ChildLine provide a fantastic help service for children, teens and young adults up to the age of 21 years. They are free to call from your mobile, and their number will not show on any phone bill. ChildLine will not tell your parents, school, or anybody else that you have spoken to them. ChildLine provide a very helpful and amazing service.
Phone: 0800 1111
Young Persons Message Board: https://www.childline.org.uk/get-support/message-boards/
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