Ross O’Car­roll- Kelly

‘ You can’t fire me. I’m the best es­tate agent you have – and that’s not me be­ing big- headed’

The Irish Times Magazine - - INSIDE -

It’s, like, just be­fore mid­day when Lau­ren tells me she wants to talk to me in her of­fice. At first, I pre­sume it’s about me turn­ing up for work at just be­fore mid­day. But it ends up not be­ing that at all? She goes, “What do you know about GDPR, Ross?” I’m like, “Quite a lot, ac­tu­ally.” Oh, that shocks her – such is my rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing as stupid as a goose. She’s like, “Okay, tell me what you know about GDPR.”

“First,” I go, “you make sure the pa­tient is com­fort­able by put­ting some kind of cush­ion un­der their head and loos­en­ing any tight cloth­ing. Then, you place the heel of your hand on the pa­tient’s breast­bone, with your other hand on top of it, in­ter­lock­ing your fin­gers ...” “That’s CPR, Ross.” “Yeah, I once helped per­form it on Father Fe­hily back in the day. It was about an hour be­fore we played Belvo in a Se­nior Cup warm- up match. He gave us our pre- match pep talk against a back­ing track of Hitler’s 1933 procla­ma­tion to the Ger­man na­tion and worked him­self up into such a rage that he ac­tu­ally blacked out. Oisinn learned life- sav­ing tech­niques in the Royal Saint George Yacht Club and he showed me how to carry out a chest com­pres­sion.”

At the same time, I’m look­ing around the floor of her of­fice, won­der­ing who she wants me to – I think it’s a word – re­sus­ci­tate?

She goes, “I’m not talk­ing about CPR, Ross. I’m talk­ing about GDPR.” I’m there, “Is that CPR with res­cue breaths?” Sud­denly, the door of the of­fice opens and in walks Dave from Hu­man Re­sources ( for­merly Pay­roll). He’s ob­vi­ously caught the tail- end of the con­ver­sa­tion be­cause he goes, “You’re say­ing the let­ters GDPR mean noth­ing to you?”

I’m there, “GD could pos­si­bly be Gor­don D’Arcy, but I’d be gen­uinely spoof­ing the rest.”

“GDPR,” he goes, “is the Gen­eral Data Pro­tec­tion Reg­u­la­tion, an EU law that en­sures data pro­tec­tion and pri­vacy rights for all Euro­pean cit­i­zens.”

Dave is a lot less fun since he did that evening course in the Smur­fit Busi­ness School – we’re talk­ing zero lols.

I’m there, “Can I just stop you, Dave? There’s no point in try­ing to teach me stuff, be­cause I’m as thick as that wall there. It’s 10 sec­onds of your life that you’re never go­ing to get back.”

Lau­ren cuts in then and ex­plains it to those of us who don’t have a Cer­tifi­cate in Hu­man Re­source Man­age­ment and Em­ploy­ment Re­la­tions? “It’s a law,” she goes, “that places a heavy legal obli­ga­tion on us all to pro­tect the per­sonal data of clients and pro­vides se­vere fi­nan­cial penal­ties for com­pa­nies who fail to com­ply.”

And that’s when Dave goes, “Where’s your lap­top, Ross?”

My blood turns room temp, be­cause I sud­denly re­alise what this is all about. Yeah, no, the thing was stolen out of the boot of my cor about a week and a half ago, along with, like, 60 or 70 client files.

I’m there, “Did you say my lap­top?” try­ing to buy my­self a few ex­tra sec­onds to come up with a plan. “I def­i­nitely heard the word lap­top. Yeah, no, it’s in the, em, drawer of my desk.”

Lau­ren’s like, “Go and get it, Ross. I want to see it.”

She’s se­ri­ous. She ac­tu­ally stands at the door of her of­fice and watches me as I tip over to my desk to look for a lap­top that I know isn’t there – and she quite pos­si­bly knows it, too.

I open draw­ers and I lift up var­i­ous things to look un­der­neath and I sigh a lot. It re­minds me of when you’re in school and your, say, ge­og­ra­phy teacher asks you to name the cap­i­tal of maybe Spain and you pre­tend it’s on the tip of your tongue and you close your eyes and you make noises like you’re in great pain and all the time you’re hop­ing that the teacher gets bored and asks some­one else in­stead.

Lau­ren doesn’t get bored, though. As a mat­ter of fact, she lets me go through the rit­ual for an en­tire five min­utes be­fore she goes, “I have your lap­top, Ross. Some­one found it dumped in their back gar­den and handed it into the guards. Along with a huge pile of client files – the pri­vate data of more than one hun­dred clients – which had blown all over their lawn.”

I’m there, “Okay, I’m go­ing to be fi­nally hon­est with you. They were stolen from the boot of my cor when I pulled in to get petrol. Was there any sign of the three shop­ping bags from Don­ny­brook Fair that were also taken? There was six tins of in­di­vid­u­ally, line- caught, white tuna fil­lets in there that cost 11 yoyos per pop.” “Why didn’t you tell me about this?” “Er, why would I tell you about it? It was my lap­top. They were my client files.”

“I’m the Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of this es­tate agency, Ross. It’s my re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­port breaches to the Data Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sioner as soon as they’re dis­cov­ered. Do you know what the penal­ties for this could be?”

“Chill out, Lau­ren. There’s no real dam­age done.”

And that’s when she says it. She fixes me with a look and goes, “You’re fired, Ross.”

I’m like, “Fired? You can’t fire me. I’m the best es­tate agent you have – and that’s not me be­ing big- headed.”

But she’s just there, “Clear out your desk, Ross. You’re fin­ished here.”

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