Every workplace has a Tony. Our Tony has only been with the company for six months, but he’s already infiltrated the work culture on every conceivable level, like a computer virus with perfect hair. Let’s boil it right down: Tony is an A-grade prat.

No matter what time I get to work, he’s always there before me. I once passed out from a boozy lunch and didn’t wake up until 4am, crawled out from under my desk and bumped into Tony “talking to London” with a mug of gen maicha tea balanced on his lap.

Remember when the thumbs up sign had a renaissance a couple of years back? That was Tony. The thing that hurts most about Tony is that he’s almost impossible to dislike. He’s generous, charming, punctual, funny, incred­ibly attractive, well presented and articulate.

He knows about wine, literature, films, architecture and he’s devastatingly good at his job. Clients worship at the altar of Tony. He knows everybody’s name. He’s always a year older but looks five years younger than almost everyone. He dresses with courage and restrained flair and when my mother met him, she couldn’t stop talking about his skin. “He just glowed,” she kept repeating, like some crazy mantra. “Glowed.”

It’s probably obvious that I hate Tony. I can’t share this with anyone, so I do things like making Tony effigies out of Blu Tack during meetings and smashing them with a hole punch. It calms me. To make matters worse, as a compensatory act, I’m always seeking him out and being incredibly nice to him. I hang out with him, joke with him and one time I put my arm around him at the pub and announced “God, I love this guy!” in front of everyone. I was so disgusted with myself that when I got home I sat in the shower and cried until the hot water ran out.

I’m no psychologist, but I’m pretty sure I hate Tony because I am Tony. Or at least, I was. Now Tony’s Tony and I’m some kind of second-rate Tony wannabe, like those parasitic fish that hang off the side of sharks. I used to be confident, a lone wolf, dazzling co-workers and clients alike with my kooky insights. I knew the jig was up when Tony and I were lunching together with a bunch of cli­ents and I, with my usual laissez-faire charm, said, “Is there really any difference between chutney and relish? I mean, who do they think they’re kidding here?”.

Tony didn’t miss a beat. “Actually, Wes, the word chutney derives from the Indian ‘c-h-u-t-n-i’, meaning ‘strongly spiced’, and consists generally of fruits, sugars, spices and vinegar combined into a chunky preserve. Relishes generally use little if any sugar, are cooked less, have little or no sweetness and are crunchy to the bite. It’s easy to see where your confusion comes from. In today’s culinary cli­mate, the definitions are blurred to the extent that a chutney can be savoury and a relish sweet.”


And of course Tony knows the chef. He always knows the chef. Knowing the chef has, in the last five years, become the ultimate social cachet. Chefs are the new DJs, crapping on endlessly about how it’s impossible to find an olive in Australia that tastes like the olives from their one-horse, backwa­ter hometown in Portugal. So they’ve set the earth back into its proper balance by growing them in their backyard in Palm Beach. And now people can come from all around to taste authentic, rural Por­tuguese olives because, heaven forbid, we go about our lives eating regular olives. I mean, what are we? SAVAGES??!!

I fear I’m becoming bitter. And bitterness is a very un-Tony quality. I’m the original Tony ’round here and this Tony 2.0 has got to go.

Unlike Tony, I am actually quite vindictive and spiteful but able to conceal it, whereas Tony is actu­ally genuinely quite nice.

He’s got no chance.

Game on, Tony. Game on.

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