The beers had been laid out on the boardroom table and Jack took a bottle and had a deep swig, almost draining half the contents. It was a mistake he didn’t realise he’d made until he looked around the room and saw that he was the only one drinking. As Derek, the manager, entered the room with a big grin on his face, Jack slid behind Chelsea the sales rep and discreetly placed the bottle at the base of one of the pot plants that were scattered around the room presumably to oxygenate the air or give the staff somewhere to hide.

“So,” said Derek, “Before we enjoy a drink, I’d like say a few words on the month we’ve had.”

Jack followed the lead of everyone else in the room and started nodding manically, although he wasn’t sure why, a monologue from Derek was about as appealing as having your kidneys removed with a spoon.

“I can’t lie to you,” said Derek.

Jack smiled, caught himself and smothered the laugh that almost burst out.

“It wasn’t a good month,” Derek looked around the room as if searching for a target. He probably picked Jack because he was staring at the roof in an attempt to not draw attention to himself, thusly drawing attention to himself as the only person in the room without a face.

“Jack,” continued Derek. “I’m sure you’d agree that nobody in your team is patting themselves on the back?”

Jack knew he had been caught in a terrible trap but couldn’t for the life of him figure of a way out. So rather than saying anything he began to nod his head.

“Are you agreeing with me or saying that your team is pleased with themselves?”

Jack was panicking and had lost all sense of the conversation. He began shaking his head.

“What does that mean?” asked Derek.

Jack stopped moving his head altogether and reached into the pot plant and raised his beer to Derek. “Cheers.”

Derek nodded slowly, trying to work out what had just happened.

“What does that mean?” asked Jack. “Are you agreeing with me?”

Derek rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Let’s have a drink, I’m sure next month will be better.”

“Cheers,” repeated Jack.

“Where did that beer even come from?” asked Derek.

“Pot plant.”

“Sorry I asked,” said Derek, looking suspiciously at the plants around the room.

“Great speech Derek,” said Tony, patting Derek on the back. Tony wasn’t being sarcastic or insincere, he just liked passing out compliments. Earlier today he had told Jack he loved his suit, which was five years old and even had a grass stain on the sleeve.

“Thanks Tony,” said Derek without any real feeling and turned to look at the far end of the boardroom table where Moira was opening a bottle of red wine. “Oh no,” he whispered to himself.

Jack was also watching the opening of the 2015 shiraz in a mixed state of horror and intrigue. “Who will it be?” he asked aloud, echoing the thoughts of everyone in the room. Moira, the accounts person, was a nice lady but when she drank any amount of alcohol at all she turned into a horny, angry monster. It was now a mathematical certainty that she would try to either fight or sleep with someone in the room.

The men looked at each other nervously, each pleading with the other to jump on the Moira grenade. Jack, in a rare moment of clarity, saw an opportunity to act like an adult. “Well,” he said to Derek. “I’m off home for an early night.”

Derek shook his hand and smiled in appreciation of Jack’s maturity. “See you Monday.”

Derek walked back to his desk and put on his jacket. As he wandered to the elevator he reflected on how far he’d come over the years. Only one beer and now he was leaving the office on a Friday.

And going to the pub.