Reimagining Yaya Toure’s Manchester City career… in an office.
Originally published October 2016.
Yaya was livid. Despite having loads of annual leave left in the financial year, he’d deliberately not booked his birthday off. He’d hoped his colleagues and bosses would shower him with praise for his excellent work this past year and, of course, bring him a cake with tea in the afternoon. Maybe they’d drink prosecco from plastic cups and Pep, his line manager, would even say a few words to everyone near the photocopiers, like Manuel had done on Raheem’s 21st.
After all, Yaya was the one who’d delivered the killer PowerPoint presentation with swagger and panache to clinch the Capital One account in February. Yaya was the most talented member of Pep’s sales team except, maybe, for Sergio. Even Yaya accepted that Sergio was quite competent.
Regardless, Yaya was, frankly, appalled at how he was treated on his birthday by Pep and the others.
It went like this: At four o’clock, Pep called a team meeting in the kitchen. He made it clear in the round-robin email that attendance was mandatory. “Not too much fuss, eh?” Yaya said to Samir as he got up, straightened his tie and ambled towards the kitchen. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, mate,” Samir said, hobbling behind. Sure you don’t, pal, thought Yaya, imagining all the kind things Pep would say to the team about him.
By the time Yaya walked into the small kitchen, most of the team were there already, huddled around Pep, who stood leaning against the water machine holding a half-empty plastic cup. Yaya pushed his way past Pablo and Aleksandar to the front. He winked at Kelechi, the work experience kid, as he hopped up to sit on the counter.
“Guys,” Pep began. “Guys this will only take a minute. Listen up. Please.”
Yaya was looking around, wondering where crafty old Pep had hidden the cake. He also wondered what type it would be. Lemon drizzle? Carrot? Chocolate? Victoria sponge? He hoped it was Victoria sponge. Who doesn’t like Victoria sponge?
“There have been a few things happening in the office that I’m not very happy about,” Pep said. This is strange, Yaya thought, maybe it’s one of Pep’s rare jokes.
“I’m not sure how to put this,” said Pep, hands in pockets, “but someone has been urinating on the toilet seat. There’s far too much of it and it’s happening far too often for it to be accidental.”
“What?” said Yaya.
“Someone has been urinating on the toilet seat, Yaya, and–” Pep pulled out a handkerchief and wiped his brow, “it’s come to my attention that you may be the culprit. Can you explain why there’s often quite a substantial amount of urine on the seat – and floor – when you leave the toilet?”
Yaya knew he shouldn’t have boasted about weeing on the seat to Vincent and Joe. It’s a bit of piss, for crying out loud. Vincent was such a teacher’s pet.
“You’re such a snitch, Vincent!” Yaya boomed at the dome-headed team leader, who stood, arms folded, in the doorway.
“I just don’t think you should be doing that sort of thing deliberately,” Vincent said, defending himself. “It’s disgusting. Fabian and Fernando spent an hour wiping up your piss last week. That’s not cool, mate.”
“I’m not your fucking mate, Vincent,” he said, turning to Pep. “And as for you, I thought you were going to say a nice speech for me on my 32nd birthday, like Manuel did for Raheem – who hasn’t done a thing since he got here from the Liverpool office – but instead you’re breaking my balls over a bit of piss on the seat. Do you realise how much I’ve done for this company? Obviously not. I’ve been propping this lot up over the past three years. Three years, Pep!” He waved a long arm in the direction of his assembled colleagues.
“I don’t think that’s particularly fair, Yaya,” Pep said. “Everyone pulls their weight around here, I like to think I’ve made sure of that. While we’re here, there have also been complaints that you’re removing tea bags from the jar and taking them home. Is that true?”
“Kevin!” Yaya screamed, turning towards the shy red-head in the corner. “I told you that in confidence. I didn’t have time to get to Tesco’s on my way back from work, so I grabbed a couple.”
“It was the whole box, Yaya,” said Kevin, quietly. “There weren’t any left for anyone else. Jesus had to go across the road to get a round of teas from Pret. It cost him £26.”
“What is this, National Blame Yaya Day?” Yaya said, shrugging his shoulders.
“We just want to know why you’re doing it,” Pep said, looking at Yaya with those sad eyes. “We want to help you, Yaya.”
Yaya wasn’t putting up with this nonsense any more. Yaya had offers. Yaya could go to Paris, or Italy, or even back to Spain, where he’d worked for a couple of years when he was younger. But Yaya had a better idea.
“Pep,” Yaya said after an uncomfortable silence, “I quit. You can shove your job. I’m moving to a place where they’ll appreciate me for who I am and nurture my talents, rather than scapegoating me for a bit of piss on the toilet seat. I’m moving somewhere where they know how to reward their staff; where it isn’t too much to ask for a bit of Victoria sponge on your birthday; where team members stick up for one another, rather than stabbing them in the back over a couple of missing tea bags. I’m moving to China.”
With that, Yaya pushed his way through the crowd – eyeballing Vincent and Kevin as he passed – packed his desk (including a number of well-deserved awards) and left the building for good.