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Preston Dirges: Gordon and Tina

Deep in the basement of Preston Dirges’ office lurks the Business Intelligence team, two people who can afford to spend the day talking to each other, because nobody else talks to them…

Int. Windowless Basement Office

Gordon and Tina sit at their PCs in a dingy windowless office originally designed for just one person. Their desks face each other. A sign on the open door reads: “Business Intelligence”. Gordon punches the air in delight.

GORDON: I’ve done it!

TINA: Done what?

GORDON: Let me show you.

Tina walks around to Gordon’s desk.

GORDON: I emailed it to you.

TINA: Oh.

Tina walks back to her desk. She impatiently taps on her keyboard, waiting for her email to update. Gordon walks around to Tina’s desk and looks over her shoulder.

TINA: I’ve got it. (beat) There’s no attachment.

GORDON: Sorry.

Gordon walks back to his desk.

GORDON: Okay.

They both get up from their seat at the same time, but both stop mid-movement, conscious that the other has also moved.

TINA: Okay – as in: you want me to come round now?

GORDON: Okay – as in: I sent it again.

They pause a moment, locked in their respective poses.

TINA: Why don’t I just come round to you?

GORDON: Okay.

Tina walks around behind Gordon and casually places one hand on his shoulder.

GORDON: Check this out.

Gordon presses a button. A spreadsheet, full of numbers, fills his screen.

TINA: (sarcastic) It’s a spreadsheet.

GORDON: The spreadsheet. The one that’s going to get me promoted to marketing.

Tina leans across Gordon and starts hitting cursor keys on the keyboard.

TINA: I can’t make sense of this. What does it tell me?

GORDON: We make cables, right? So what do customers most want in a cable?

TINA: They wants lots of things. They want good audio-video reproduction, they want them to be cheap, they want good them to be reliable.

GORDON: No. They want them to be the right length. So I analysed all the data I could get about where people put their TVs and computers and stereos, and analysed what would be the most popular lengths for cables.

TINA: (bored) Great.

GORDON: You haven’t heard the good part yet. The lengths of our cables are a good match for the most popular lengths.

TINA: Good. How does that get you a promotion?

GORDON: Think about it. If we’re making cables that are the right length, then we’re not making as much money as we should.

TINA: Sorry?

GORDON: We charge more for longer cables. And we charge even more for extensions to cables. So we want our cables to be too long or too short. Then we’ll make more by selling long cables, and we’ll sell more extensions when people buy cables that are too short.

TINA: That’s insane Gordon. What about the cost of people returning cables because they can’t use them?

GORDON: It’s factored into my spreadsheet – see this. But look here – the analysis shows that, even after costs, the company could boost profits by 8%, just by changing the lengths of the cables we make.

TINA: Good for you, Gordon. How are you going to get anyone to see this?

Gordon is discouraged. He shrugs his shoulders and does not answer. With her hand on his shoulder, Tina gives Gordon a comforting squeeze.

TINA: Did you have a good weekend?

GORDON: Yes. That reminds me of something I have to show you.

Gordon goes to his coat, which is hanging from the handle of a storage cupboard. He pulls out an envelope from a coat pocket, and hands it to Tina.

TINA: What’s this?

Tina opens the envelope, and pulls out a hand-made card whilst Gordon looks on, smiling. Tina looks at the front of the card.

TINA: It’s a Valentine’s card. You made it yourself? (smiles) This is a really lovely surprise…

Tina opens the card. Inside the card reads “to Stella”.

TINA: for your girlfriend. It’ll be a lovely surprise for her.

Gordon is oblivious to the stumble in Tina’s reaction.

GORDON: Do you think so? Great. I wanted to know what you thought before I posted it. I spent the weekend making it, but I didn’t want to show it to the guys round the apartment.

TINA: No, it’s a really good job. Making something yourself is so much more… (pause) thoughtful. She’ll love it.

Tina hands the card back and walks back to her desk.

GORDON: I’ll have to post it this lunchtime, or it won’t arrive in time.

TINA: Do you miss her, Gordon? It must be hard, with you being here and her still being in South Africa.

GORDON: There’s Skype, although the connection is terrible her end. And we email a lot, though she’s not emailed me for a week. She didn’t like the e-card I sent her for her birthday, so I need to make more effort this time.

TINA: Good.

The conversation ends, and both start typing on their keyboards.

GORDON: I’m sorry. I’m being insensitive. I should have asked about your boyfriend, Alan.

TINA: Alvin. We split up three months ago.

GORDON: That’s right. Sorry. So you don’t have any plans for Valentine’s Day then?

TINA: Yeah, yeah, I have plans. (pause) I’ve got a hot date.

GORDON: Cool. What’s he called?

Tina’s eyes dart around the room desperately, trying to find inspiration. Gordon never takes his eyes from his computer screen, and keeps typing at his keyboard without interruption. Tina looks at her desk tidy, and the pens standing in it.

TINA: Penn.

GORDON: Penn? You don’t hear that name often. Is he from round here?

TINA: No, he’s not. He’s from…

Tina looks around again, panicked. There’s a Pepsi can on her desk.

TINA: Can. A-da. Canada.

GORDON: Oh. Je suppose que son nom est français d’origine. N’est-ce pas?

TINA: (baffled) Yeah.

Tina tries to think of something else to say, but cannot.

TINA: Yeah.

GORDON: So where did you meet him?

Tina notices the holepunch on her desk.

TINA: Punch… ing. Punching. Boxing. I met him at my boxercise class.

GORDON: You didn’t say you started doing boxercise. When did you start?

TINA: It was a new year’s resolution.

GORDON: Get fit? Good for you. So where’s Penn taking you this weekend?

There is a stapler on Tina’s desk.

TINA: Staples.

GORDON: Staples?

TINA: Sta-bles. Horse stables. Horse riding. We’re going horse riding at the horse stables.

GORDON: Wow, you’re suddenly turning sporty. I thought you’d want to spend Valentine’s chilling out, enjoying food, wine and chocolate.

TINA: Well, yeah. But that’s why I’m being sporty, so I can enjoy more of the good things without them going to my hips.

Gordon is still completely focused on his computer screen, typing as he talks.

GORDON: You don’t need to worry about that. You’ve got a great figure.

Tina sits up in her chair. She half-smiles.

GORDON: Most men prefer women with a bit of meat on them.

Tina stops smiling, unsure how to respond.

TINA: Thanks, Gordon. (pause) It’s nearly lunch. Are you posting your card before, or after?

GORDON: Are you hungry? Let me just check my email first.

TINA: No, I’m not hungry. I was just wondering when you wanted to eat.

Gordon does not answer. His eyes are locked on his screen.

TINA: Gordon?

GORDON: (sad) I won’t need to post my card after all.

Tina walks around to Gordon’s desk.

TINA: What’s happened?

GORDON: Stella’s dumped me.

TINA: By email?

GORDON: She couldn’t get a good connection on Skype. (pause) Do you want to read what she wrote?

TINA: Read it? No. (pause) No, I don’t want to. (pause) Go on then.

Gordon rolls his chair to one side, making it easier for Tina to lean towards the screen.

TINA: (reading aloud) Dear Gordon, I think you can sense we’ve grown distant this last year, especially as you’re ten thousand miles away in England.

GORDON: Actually it’s six thousand miles, or ten thousand kilometres.

TINA: (reading aloud) I think it is time we both moved on with our lives, and I’m sure it won’t be long before you find someone close to you in England. (beat) I have a new love in my life. He’s called Koos (pronounced ‘coups’)…

GORDON: Koos (pronounced ‘kwis’)

TINA: (reading aloud) Koos van der Merwe

GORDON: Sounds like a made-up name.

TINA: (reading aloud) and I think he may be my soulmate. It would be wrong to see him without breaking off with you first, although I’ve seen him a few times already, if I’m honest. I know you’ll understand and we’ll be friends forever. Love, Stella.

Gordon gets up and puts the Valentine’s card back into his coat pocket.

TINA: I’m sorry Gordon.

GORDON: Don’t worry about it. Like she says, I’m going to go out and find somebody new. Plenty more fish in the sea. It’s just a shame you’re taken, or I’d ask you out this weekend.

TINA: (shocked) Would you?

GORDON: Sure. If the two of us worked as a team, we’d both find someone in no time. I’d find a bloke for you and you’d find a girl for me. But now you’ve got a new boyfriend, so that’s out.

TINA: That’s right.

GORDON: Come on, let’s eat. I’m hungry. And you don’t need to diet, now that you’re doing all that exercise.

Gordon affectionately punches Tina on the arm.

TINA: Ow! Gordon!

GORDON: Sorry.

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