Consociate Korhonen is dumpy and pallid, he doesn’t look out of place at all in the basement cafeteria. Shuffling along in the queue, he’ll say hello to Consociate Kukka the lunch lady and politely ask for his usual. Kukka will pile soured cabbage onto a tray and place two blood pancakes next to the cabbage, making sure that they don’t touch. Consociate Korhonen will then go to his usual table, the one right next to the electric heater, place his threadbare jacket over the threadbare chair and sits down to eat, alone.
Aside from Consociate Kukka no one bothers making conversation with Consociate Korhonen. It’s not that he doesn’t like to be bothered, he’s got time for all of his colleagues at the office, it’s that there isn’t much point making small talk with him. He already knows what everyone’s been up to. He gets a dossier every morning, which he reads meticulously. There’s a whole wing upstairs full of people that work all night, every night, to prepare this dossier for Consociate Korhonen. If he wants to talk to you, you’ll know.
You could try and avoid Consociate Korhonen, but there’s not much point. It’s better to get it over with and sit in that chair across the table from him during lunch time. You may struggle to maintain your appetite, but it’s best to take your tray with you. Consociate Korhonen will insist that you eat, it’s just a quick chat after all, half an hour at most.
In any other context, he’d greet you by your full name. Here, he’s much more informal. He might even greet you by the nickname only your Mother uses, before asking you how she’s doing. He’s a bit old fashioned, he prefers film; he dabbles in a bit of photography himself. So he’ll place down the photographs in front of you, one after the other, like playing cards. You’ll go through them with him, just so he knows that you’re on the same page. Afterwards, he’ll give you a pat on the shoulder and send you on your way.
Don’t worry about it.
Play up, play up, and play the game!
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