Confessions of a Benefits Manager

Blogs confessions imageCandid fast forwards to Valentine’s Day and tries to identify her secret admirer, but the shortlist from within the office proves both thin on the ground and thin on top

Candid: It was on my desk when I came in this morning: a nice red envelope tucked under my keyboard. I am s-o-o relieved that someone somewhere loves me after all. I waited in for the post this morning, but all I got was a telephone bill and a flyer from a pizza delivery firm. Still, that’s better than a few years ago, when my boyfriend (now ex-boyfriend I’ll add) sent flowers via They came in a box marked ‘Cheap Quick Gifts – Last Minute’. How romantic. Since then, I have been waiting in vain for my soulmate to express a proper interest on Valentine’s Day.

I open the card quickly before my colleague Lazy Susan gets in and notices. Susan, like many breathtakingly stupid girls, always gets dozens of cards, as well as bunches and bunches of flowers. You have to hack through the undergrowth like Indiana Jones to get to her desk at this time of year. I’ll relish my one card in private.

He may have good taste in women, but my admirer has remarkably bad taste in cards. It is handmade, which is certainly better than some sickly bear creation. However, the masterpiece has been forged on standard copier paper and inaccurately coloured in with highlighter pens. On the front there is a picture of a bee, which is strangely fuzzy like a downloaded image over-enlarged (some points there for effort I suppose), and inside it says ‘Bee mine’ (cringe). At the bottom, my valentine has scrawled ‘D’ as a signature.

D is for disappointment, I think; it rules out Shaun, that sweet boy in IT. Yes, I know he is only in his early twenties but he is so cute. Nor is it Sex-on-legs, you know that really good-looking one in finance who has been studiously avoiding me for years. No, it has to be someone else in the office, someone whose name begins with a D

Big Bad Boss storms over and demands a report on bonuses. I hastily push the card under a pile of paper. Wait a minute: Big Bad Boss has a Christian name starting with D. No, now I am getting paranoid. Mind you, there was that moment at the Christmas party when he touched my leg but I was sure he was just trying to steady himself after one too many drinks. He was, wasn’t he? I begin to feel quite nauseous but try to pull myself together.

When I have finished my report for Big Bad Boss, I run a list of employees from the system and filter it for names beginning with D. There are eleven names, of which only six are men. Three are married, so I dismiss them out of hand. Yes, I know it is not exactly unknown for married men to fall for someone else at work, in fact, is it probably more likely than for the single ones who get some freedom outside of work. However, if my valentine’s wife doesn’t understand him, I simply don’t want to know. I am no home-wrecker.

Of the names left, one is only aged eighteen years, which would be flattering. However, it is rather unlikely as he brought a male friend along to the Christmas party and was brave enough to snog the guy in front of one and all. It seems they come out young these days. We get a big tick for our diversity policy there.

Another guy on the list is due to retire. He is the one I am most worried about, because for some reason I am a bit of magnet for pensioners, especially ones who have just lost their wives. Gross. I don’t know what it is about me, but if I go out of an evening, you can guarantee it is some guy with wrinkly hands and a zimmer-frame who will offer to buy me a drink. I must change my perfume. However, checking the dates again, he actually left last week, so unless he crept in to deliver the card, he is out of the running. I take a look at his HR file and review the leaving checklist. Yes, he definitely left and they took his ID card away, so he couldn’t enter the office today if he tried.

That leaves me with just one potential admirer, and it is an unfamiliar name: David Sillyman. Well, he might work around here but I haven’t a clue who he is. I check out his salary and grade (well, it is my job after all).

I don’t know what possesses me, but I type his name into Google. A lot of matches come up; most of them for people who are far too interesting to work here. I trawl through and finally spot him on MySpace. I would have thought he was a bit old for that, but the man clearly has hidden depths. His favourite tunes are salsa CDs and there are photos of him in Lycra doing strange dance poses with bespangled blondes. Weird. Could this be my secret admirer? I look again at his interests. Yikes, that clinches it: he is also an apiculturist (a bee-keeper, in case you didn’t know). I’m still not sure if I am interested or not. The photos don’t show his face too clearly, but he is obviously popular with the ladies as there are loads of gushing females listed as friends. On the other hand, everything about his profile shrieks cheesiness, not to mention a rather dodgy taste in clothes. I must get back to work.

I am standing at the coffee machine when I notice the name tag on a nearby cube: David Sillyman. A balding geek looks up and gives me a gap-toothed grin. He waves at me; a silly little waggle of fingers. Please say it is not him, anyone but him.

Next time…Candid gets a new boss

Confessions of a benefits manager – January 2008