I think a social scientist would have had an interesting time analysing the interpersonal relationships that existed within Convenience Foods. The strangest employee of all was Linda R. She was either friendly and co-operative, usually towards other women, or she was rude and aggressive, usually towards men. It turns out that her father had been drowned not long before I first met her and I have always wondered if that was something to do with her behaviour. Every week one member of the department was allowed to go to the other United Biscuits factory in the town to buy damaged biscuits at a heavily discounted price. When it was Linda R’s turn to do this task she was almost invariably “forgot” to buy anything for other people although the rest of us always seemed to be delegated to buy things for her when our names came up on the rota.
I never worked out exactly what role Linda R was supposed to carry out in the department. She didn’t seem to have any obvious duties or responsibilities on either the creative side or on the technical side of the work that was carried out. She had an accomplice, July S, who was a pleasure to work with when Linda R was away but who was almost as difficult as her mentor when the two of them were together.
At this early stage of my career it was most unpleasant to have to work in the same department as the two of them and I wasn’t even a tiny bit sad when circumstances separated us. Needless to say I would have loved to have been Linda R’s line-manager when I was a bit more experienced in dealing with people!