|Mrs Milquetoast is looking forward to holding up every claim personally from now on|
“I’ve never met this Emma person, and frankly I don’t want to,” Mrs Milquetoast told her line manager three minutes later. “Nevertheless, I feel deeply offended on her behalf. Send this evil bigot back to the agency, please.”
“Now,” she added, producing a clipping from the Daily Mail outlining the ramifications of the new law, a legacy of the Labour government which was championed by Harriet Harman.
Before lunchtime, Mrs Milquetoast had instigated disciplinary proceedings against two other colleagues for causing her to take secondary offence on behalf of a teenage son and a neighbour.
“By this morning, there was just Terry Peters on the front desk left to deal with,” grimaced a thin-lipped Mrs Milquetoast. “So I invented an excuse and went downstairs, claiming to be conducting a pencil audit, and instigated a conversation about housing benefit claimants. He chuckled and said that some of them could be a bit stroppy at times. Bingo. I clicked the tape recorder off and hurried back upstairs with the damning evidence. I can’t stand people on benefits myself, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be mortified for them at this uncalled-for assault on their reputation.”
“And there was an unexpected bonus,” she crowed. “When I presented him with yet another complaint form in triplicate, Mr James, the office manager, had the bare-faced cheek to tell me to my face, ‘You know, Rosemary, I’m just a simple sort of chap. I don’t know how I’ll cope, having 26 staff on indefinite suspension.’ How dare he deprecate himself like that, the poor man? I really felt for him. Naturally I was on the phone to Personnel right away, and I was most gratified to see security escort him from the building at lunchtime.”
Mrs Milquetoast’s peaceful afternoon of proceeding unhurriedly through a growing mountain of housing benefit claims was, however, shattered when she went to make herself a green tea and overheard somebody in the parking permits section telling a colleague ‘that bum-faced old trout next door is having a field day, moaning about whatever anybody utters.’
“It’s a disgrace,” she told a cowering personnel assistant two minutes later. “I don’t have to stand there in the corridor and listen to shocking slanders against poor innocent fish.”
“But from now on,” she added darkly, “I’ll do it anyway.”