'I fear you misunderstand what my department does." Came the terse reply. "Don't be fooled by the name. "Eyeballing each other, both men took the opportunity to fix their cuffs and collars.' No, my dear friend, we are responsible for putting things together, joining the dots.'
'What does that even mean?" replied the older man. The reply came with a vaguely patronising air.
'Royal couples with worthy scandals, unworthy scandals with newspaper men, weapons technology with despots, crashed delivery vans with market stall opportunists. Things that compliment each other make the world go round. In short, we cause change and progress.'
'Oh. I thought the Department of Compliments just, sort of, said nice things to people"
The rest of the cafe remained indifferent, as the mood changed between the two suits. One had the aged hands of a man that had proved his worth in the outdoors, in real life. Opposite was a young patrician. He had the soft skin of a man that believed the best way to dig a hole was with your arms folded, telling another man with a shovel it was their idea all along and what a great idea it was indeed.
'However, I know your job involves. The Department of Accidents make 'things' happen. Often 'to' people.' He took a sip of water before continuing. 'And we appreciate your... discrete assistance in this regard.'
'Actually, um, we do health and safety mostly.'
There was a short pause, before the recently produced large brown envelope was discretely taken off the table.
'Then, it seems we may have our wires crossed.'
The older man paused for thought momentarily before replying, helpfully.
'Well, I could take a look at that if you like?'
Jenny absolutely hated when she got put on shift with Gerry.
“He’s harmless,” she would begin every rant with. “But, oh God, he’s just so annoying.” Every one of Jenny’s friends knew about Gerry. Frankly, they were getting tired of hearing about him. Every conversation would invariably drift back to Gerry; how so infuriatingly nice he was, how uncomfortable he makes her feel, the way he always just… watches her drive.
“Nothing,” he replies. “You’re such an excellent driver. It’s just a pleasure to watch you work. So commanding, yet so unassuming. That’s a tough balance to strike.” But it wasn’t just her driving he admired. He loved how she dressed. “Most people can’t pull off green. But you… you look great in it. It’s definitely your colour. Although I’d imagine every colour is your colour.” He loved how she treated her patients. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a neater bandage. I don’t know how you do it. And with himself swearing and cursing at you? Amazing. You’re a marvel.”
Jenny had been waiting three months for her transfer to come through and, although Gerry had often complimented her on her patience, it was starting to wear thin.