I Don’t Like Mondays

Come what may, Team 2 of Collins Barrow, Chartered Accountants met religiously each Monday morning at 8.30 a.m. sharp. No one arrived late.

On that morning, during my first winter in Calgary, Canada, I had five blocks to walk to my office. This ‘Siberian’ weather forced me to dress in an Inuit-style goose down Hudson’s Bay Parka—a long wide scarf wrapped around my head, like an Egyptian mummy. It was topped by a thick hood, edged in fur.

The bright sunshine and clear blue sky made the -40˚C weather deceptively inviting, but deadly if you weren’t dressed appropriately. Mere minutes of exposure of any part of your skin led to frostbite or worse. I walked with clumsy, robotic steps and as the frigid air entered my hood, it turned to mist against my glasses and instantly froze, making them opaque. Wearing inch-thick gloves I couldn’t take off, I hazarded my way along the streets, blind, confused and bitterly cold. Fifteen minutes later, panic set in. I still hadn’t reached my office. For a minute, I removed my hood and glasses to find my bearings. I had overshot my target and was even farther away from my office than when I started out. It was now 8.45.

Finally, I barged blindly into the oversized boardroom, still in my parka and Arctic gloves, my glasses refusing to de-mist. I tottered into the nearest empty chair, half-an-hour late. The meeting of twenty people shuddered to a halt.

John Collins, the senior partner, glared at me and started in with a list of questions.

“Have you touched base with Mrs.Ryder?” The boss stood in front of a blackboard, pointing his chalk at me, while the next in line to be questioned studied their notes anxiously.

Coming from England, I had no clue about baseball idioms. “I’ve even scored a home run, but to no avail.” I said—meaning that after several calls, I had finally got her, but she still hadn’t prepared the information needed. Several snickers and a guffaw escaped before they were silenced by Collins.

“How is the audit of Westwind Hotel coming along with Gary?” Wasn’t it supposed to finish last week?” He looked from Gary back to me.

Meanwhile, my discarded parka was dripping water onto a chair and part of the conference table. My boots had made a puddle on the expensive, blue-grey plush carpet.

Gary attempted a rescue but failed miserably. “Sir, I think we’ve discovered a fraud.”

A hush fell over the room. All eyes focused on us. Gary began to twitch.

I could tell what they were all thinking—some kook from England and his sidekick, both recently hired—were a week over budget, already doubling the audit fee. Our excuse, the discovery of a fraud that no one at Collins Barrow had found a trace of in the past three years of auditing.

“I want you both in my office immediately. This meeting is over.”

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Written by Emil Rem

An eccentric accountant becomes a writer of eccentric characters, in exotic locales, with each chapter taking us on a trip into the fascinating twisted world of Emil Rem. Born to a close knit middle class Muslim East Indian family in Dar-es-Salam in the 50’s, he is then moved to Maidenhead England at the age of five. The next twenty years are spent shuttling between England and East Africa, wearing a St. Christopher’s cross one minute and attending church, to wearing a green arm band and attending Muslim religious classes in Africa next minute. Moving to Canada, marrying a woman from the Philippines and having two boys only adds further texture to his stories.


I Don’t Like Mondays