Gay, hooray and USA

by DannyUK

Well, yesterday was interesting in a “work” way.

A couple of hours into the day we were told that JH, our American Divisional boss, was on his way to the branch. Romford is a fairly high profile branch and considered the “flagship” branch of the region. It’s an open secret that if you want to progress up the ranks in the company, and you start in Essex, you have to work in Romford. For this reason, it was no surprise that JH, if he was coming anywhere in the region, was coming here.

A couple of weeks ago, JH set an open challenge to the Division to set a name for his group of branches, which was then known as “813” (Boring, huh?).

The challenge was set shortly after we came back from our course a couple of weeks back, which the company had named the Formula. Having only had a day or so to give some thought to the name, Moe piped up “Why don’t we suggest ‘Formula One’?”. It took a second to sink in before Moe was laughed out of the building by just about everyone in the branch. What a stupid name.

Still, we put it forward as we had nothing else, and guess what?

Yep, you’ve guessed it, JH was down to announce we had won the competition, so he was doing a quick meet and greet with us plebs and was planning to spend some more time with us later, before buying us lunch for getting the winning name.

As always with anyone in authority, he just about managed a meet and greet before falling foul of meetings and God knows what else, so he has promised to come back within a fortnight and do lunch, even threatening to set up a BBQ in the shared car-park, which could be interesting.

There was a rarity at work yesterday too. Although it’s not unusual for me to be in early, normally first in, it’s rare for me to stay late. I’ve always been this way, and every job I’ve had I’ve always been the one with his PC turned off 2 minutes before we’re due to go. Last night, however, I got stuck seeing a customer and was there an extra 20 minutes.

The customer was, as customers go, pretty cool. Working in the job that I do of selling loans, we see a wide range of people – Young, old, cocky, shy and everywhere in-between.

When Mr O came in, having spoken to one of my colleagues last week who was on a course yesterday, it was the first time I’d spoken to him. Straight away the gaydar sense kicked in and I suspected he was gay. There was nothing outwardly camp or gay about him, it was just a sense.

Etiquette states that when dealing with a customer you can’t presume about their situation, but I was so aware that I believe the customer was gay, I was determined not to insult him (though he probably wouldn’t have cared!) by referring to his “wife”. Instead, I decided to refer to his other half as “your partner”. Easy and clever, huh?

So there’s me, ten minutes later, going through the benefits of life insurance. “So, Mr. O, if you take out the life cover, that means that your partner (see? !) won’t have to worry about paying the loan off if you die. In that scenario, the insurance would kick in, your partner would just need to contact us and we’d tell him (him, whoops) how to proceed with the claim, and any other insurances you had would then not be needed to pay us off and would instead go to straight to him.”

It was only as I finished the second sentence, I realised I’d indirectly called him gay twice. How did I side-step this delicate situation?

Unfortunately the brain didn’t really kick in, so with a theatrical wave of my right hand I started a sentence in a way that I’d never done before: “Oooh, ‘ark at me!” I shudder to think about that now. “Oooh, ‘ark at me! ‘him’ I’m sorry, I just presumed…”

Thankfully the customer gave a sort of sheepish smile and told me not to worry, and that yes, HE wouldn’t have to worry. He went on to say that they’d married in a civil ceremony a few months back, but due to bad prejudice he’d faced in the past, he rarely told strangers, and that included us at the branch.

At the end of every loan, a consolidation is done by the branch manager - in my case, Sue - and the manager will sit down with the customer, cover off what has been done, the amount taken and recap the details of the loan.

I told Sue that the customer was gay and married his partner earlier in the year, and told her that he’d been reserved about saying it due to the prejudice he’d received before.

“That’s good that he felt he could open up to you Dan, that’s a skill in itself.”

I didn’t tell her how it had come about.

On the way home, I was thinking of my position in the branch.

Officially, I’m Assistant Manager. However, although I get to deal with queries from all of the sales guys and help out with giving people advice and so on, and can be relied on to speak to customers having a moan, or for anything that requires a “senior” member of staff, my responsibilities seem to end there.

There are two Team Leaders in the branch, KC and CS, who, although strictly speaking are on the same level of management as myself, get involved in conference calls with managers, regional managers and above, which is something I want (and need) to do in order to get my name noticed and gain promotion.

I sent a text to Sue on the way home: “When do you think I’ll make Team Leader Sue? What are the chances of KC or SC moving on soon. I’m chomping at the bit!”

It never hurts to show that you’re keen, experience has told me.

Sue had mentioned earlier in the day, in confidence, that they may be looking to put a third team leader in the branch, but to be honest, I can’t see there being enough demand for a third Team Leader yet.

Sue’s reply put a spring in my step: “Yeah, I’m chomping too! You are just what the branch needs. I can’t say any more yet, I’ve probably said too much already. It will be soon. Chat tomorrow.”

Can’t wait to see what today brings.

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