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

Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: It’s time to learn some crucial differences between GDPR and CPR

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?

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

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.”