This had been a day to end all days. Frank didn’t so much walk out of the building, but stumbled out into the foggy drizzle of the November evening.
It started yesterday morning. He’d landed the biggest insurance account of his career. He’d lunched with the client, who happened to be a friend of his boss’s. He went back to the man’s office, thrashed out the details of the deal and Frank walked back to his own office as though carried there on the wings of angels.
He went straight to old Henderson to tell him the good news. Strangely, the boss seemed a little less than overjoyed, but made encouraging sounds, nonetheless. The following morning, today, Frank was called to his office.
“Frank, old boy, I’m sure you’ll understand, but I’m giving the account to Jeremy. Don’t worry, though. You’ll be very well looked after and when all’s said and done, it doesn’t matter who’s name’s at the top of the bit of paper, does it?”
“But Sir, I’ve been working for weeks on this account. With respect, I really feel I deserve some recognition for all this.”
Henderson strolled around his large desk, bearing a piece of paper. “Oh, you’re recognized. old boy, believe me.” He handed Frank the paper, which turned out to be a cheque. A large one. “I’d say that’s quite a tip of the old hat to you, wouldn’t you?” Henderson went back to his seat, pressed the intercom and spoke to his secretary. He looked up at Frank with a dismissive smile and Frank walked slowly out of the office. Bloody Jeremy. As much use as a sick headache.
Frank had just slumped down in his chair in his own office, when the phone rang. It was the client.
“Frank? Oh dear, this is difficult. The board, and I confess I agree with them, have decided to place our business elsewhere. Mr. Henderson and I had drinks last night, and he wanted to put the whole account into his son’s hands. Not acceptable, I’m afraid. I’ve just rung him. We must have some lunch sometime,” and with that, he rang off.
Why wasn’t Frank surprised when Henderson came and asked for his cheque back? He’d write his letter of resignation tonight, and have it on the damn fool’s desk the next morning. He shrugged the collar of his coat up and turned right. Then stopped. That’s not right. Come to that, where the heck am I? Where’s my car? Did I come by car this morning? He felt panic draping over him like a wet cloak. I don’t even recognize–. He stopped dead again. He turned and walked back the other way, looking to left and right. He didn’t recognize–
“Frank? You okay?” A heavy set, middle aged lady came up to him. He looked at her and saw she was Christie, one of the senior secretaries. He admitted he didn’t know where he was. She took his arm. “Come on, luv. Let’s go for a drink.”
She turned him round, led him up the road and round the corner. They went into the pub where she sat him down and went to buy the drinks. When they were settled, she took his hand.
“More familiar now?”
“Yes,” Frank replied. “Everything seems to be clearing up now. Thanks a lot, Christie. You rescued me.”
“Look,” she said. “I heard what that old bastard did to you. I worked for a psychiatrist for eleven years before coming here. You had a bad anxiety attack. Will you be able to get home all right?”
“Yes, I’ll be fine now, thanks.”
“Well, listen. May be best to go and see a psych doctor, but when you get home and you still feel anxious, don’t fight it. Sit down and let it wash over you. It’ll pass. If it returns, then have a worry period. Think about the worst things that can happen, then break things down into smaller chunks. And whatever you do, don’t blame yourself for any of this. Don’t forget, now, you’re a damn good salesman. It was that old fool Henderson that knocked you down. Whatever you do, don’t go blaming yourself.”
They parted company, Frank thanking Christie sincerely for all her help. Did he suffer any more anxiety? Did he find another job? Ah, that’s for another time
Mike Bond, illustrating an anxiety attack and self-help with a story. His own experience of not knowing where he was one day is nothing like the one in the article. It happened in England and he was on his way to – where else? The pub! Suddenly, for about ten seconds, he hadn’t a clue where he was. Then the moment passed, and he was fine. Go and have a look at his website. If you suffer from panic, anxiety and/or depression, you’ll surely relate to him in some way