Bullet holes by the photocopier


Date: 29 June 2010

Bullet holes

An award-winning journalist writes…

When I was 24, after a couple of years of dismal freelancing, I got my first staff job on a small but high-profile magazine. I was unbelievably nervous and excited when I arrived on the first day but was shown to a desk and given a few tasks to get on with.

I had only been there a couple of hours when one of the other journalists came up to me and said, "What's your name?" in a rather intense way.

"I'm Angela," I said offering him my hand. "I've just started and—"

"Angela, you've got to leave the building now," he said flatly.

I was torn between conscientiousness and alarm but decided, it being my first day, to stick with conscientiousness. So I picked up the phone.

"I'll just make this call I've been asked to do," I said breezily. He grabbed my arm and pulled me out of the office — I noticed other people marching purposefully to the exit as well. Within moments, police were flooding in.

It turned out that the work experience guy sitting opposite me, who had been complaining loudly that he “wasn't "feeling well" had brought not aspirin, but a gun to work. When, indignant at not being offered the office first-aid kit, he started brandishing it, he was marched out.

As he was led away, and we inspected the bullet holes by the photocopier, I saw him looking a bit shame-faced. But in retrospect, I wonder if he didn't have the right idea. It turned out to be a really horrible place to work.

This much I know: the employee writes:

I went for a Starbucks and rang my friends for a laugh. Call a lawyer? Why? I’ve had worse from newspaper management. 

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