Drinks machine – Tea

It looks like grey washing up water, and it’s too hot to drink. You try anyway, and manage only to scald your top lip. At least you manage not to spill any on you as you jerk back. The flimsy plastic cup the drink is served in appears to be threatening to melt, so you set it down on one of the tables and pretend you’ve nothing to do with it.

You continue to stand, feeling a bit miserable, a bit uncomfortable, watching the rain lashing down outside, when your attention is attracted by a polite cough behind you. You see a middle-aged man in a regulation jacket and tie, and you assume that this is Mr Metcalf, the manager.

You take a deep breath, determine not to make a mess of this, and lean your briefcase against your leg so that you can shake hands. Metcalf’s grip is warm and strong, exhibiting the sort of confidence you wish you had. What he makes of you has, you suppose, already been decided. That’s how it works for these things – first impressions and all that.

He glances down that table at your abandoned drink. “You didn’t try that, did you?” he asks.

You shrug helplessly. “Perhaps I should’ve chosen something else.”

“I don’t recommend it. Come on, we’ll go up to my office and have a chat.”

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