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The Tale of a Hard working Man

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posted on Oct, 16 2013 @ 06:26 AM
“God this rain is like ice!” I think as I pedal as hard as I can up the hill. “Well at least it’s not too much further” I reassure myself as my thighs and lungs burn. Not long after I arrive at work, park and lock the bike up and go inside to change into my factory worker clothes before my shift begins. I’ve worked here on the factory floor for 11 years now and am very proud of my long, sickness-free tenure. Of course it’s not like it used to be. Years ago there was always overtime available and an honest hard-working bloke like me could earn a packet! Now I’m lucky to have a job I suppose. Of course, my ethos has always been: “look after your job and it’ll look after you!” My employers, an international manufacturing company, know that I am the sort of bloke they want and I never take advantage. I am confident they’ll look after me.

As I clock in and begin work I am washed in the reassuring sound of machinery working and men shouting. I breathe in the unique scents that tell me I can hold my head high because I have never skived in my life. I married my partner Shelley 4 years ago and we have 2 kids and a 3rd on the way. This last one wasn't planned but that’s ok. Shelley is like me – a hard worker who loves her administration job at the local university and between us we earn enough to pay the mortgage and have a holiday each year.

“What the hell’s that lazy scrounger done this time?” I muse as I see the floor manager rushing over and berating one the yellows – the term that’s been coined for the free-workers or long-term unemployed working for free here. Don’t get it myself – the company keeps saying profits are down and there’s not enough work yet the numbers of yellows keep rising, as do the numbers of redundancies. Mind you it’s good to see them having to work for my tax for a change - makes me proud to have voted for the Tories the last two times. “Oh well, keep your head down and plough through – what do I know of balance sheets and statistics? I’m just a Good Ol’ Grafter” I remind myself.

Of course times are harder now and the money doesn’t go as far – how the heck the utility and fuel prices keep going up I do not know! – but then we’re in a recession (or was as we’re told by the Powers That Be!) so we all have to keep our heads down, tighten our belts and suffer through it. It sits ill in my gut though that all those layabouts on the dole get more than we do though – we struggle just to live a decent life and can’t afford all the new phones and gadgets yet all those bloody skivers get it all! Makes me sick! Of course they’re not ALL like that I know! After all, George isn’t a scrounger either but still out of work. Can’t understand it myself – I can still remember the day he found out…
George and I go way back. We began here the same year and I kind of took him under my wing when he began several months after me. The same age, we knew each other in school but weren’t close back then. He’s a grafter like me – never took a sickie in his life although he did have that glandular fever back in 2008 and was off sick for a few months. That was hard financially on him and Pat, his partner then but wife now. They got married same year we did and their 3rd son was born early last year. He and I were team buddies all the way. I look with contempt at the yellow that’s working at George’s old station next to me. “No point getting to know any of them” I remind myself, “They’re never here long”.
The 1st break bell sounds and I stop my machine and head out for some fresh air and a cuppa, musing on the way of how it all went bad for George over a year ago now.

George was called in for his annual review. We all hated it but neither George nor I was worried. We’d both always got good reviews and knew we had nothing to worry about. They were always making redundancies but they’d never get rid of a couple of long time grafters like us. I patted George on his back as he left for his and gave a sigh of relief that mine was over already and carried on working. Didn’t think much of it but wondered why his was taking so long when I went for lunch. “Must’ve been called to train someone up” I thought as I ate the cheese and tomato sarnies Shelley made for me that morning. After lunch and still no George I called out to Dick the floor manager as he was rushing past: “Hey Dick, where’s George!?” but he never gave a reply despite my knowing he heard me. As the day wore on I got more and more worried but reassured myself with thoughts like “He must’ve came down funny or something and gone home” but knowing inside he’d never leave without telling me, his best bud!

When I walked in the door that night Shelley was on the phone crying and I could hear Pat’s tear-filled wails over the line and my heart sank like a stone. “What’s happened?” I shouted as I rushed to her. “George was laid off today!” she says as she turns away to keep consoling Pat. “What the heck?” I think as I grab my mobile to ring him.

Anyway turns out the company laid him off despite his record! Turns out that short time off sick all that time ago, him starting later than me and the economic downturn have all conspired against poor old George! “Poor bugger!” I muse as I sigh in relief and thank my lucky stars guiltily. Course I haven’t got the time to keep up with him now but Shelley and Pat still talk. For a while we still had our barbecues and games nights but as the months went by he began to change… at first he was out all day every day looking for work but as time went on and he had no luck he stopped trying so hard. He started cancelling on us and when we did see him he was obviously letting himself go. Shelley tells me Pat’s at her wits end with worry about him. Which she don’t need on top of everything else. I hear they’re losing the house now as he hasn't managed to get another job. Don’t understand it myself – a grafter like him with all his experience but Pat says all the factories are laying off and there’s no jobs and what I see and hear backs that up.

Anyway it’s third break and I head to the office to see about any overtime – even though I know there won’t be any as usual but I have to try if we want to save enough for a holiday next year. As I walk the lines I spot a yellow that looks a bit familiar and as I get closer I can’t believe it!


I shout to the bloke’s back as he slouches along in front of me. The bloke turns, reluctantly and replies
“Hey Dave. How ya doin mate?” ,looking at the floor.
I can’t believe it! “Mate, they take you back on then?” I ask hopefully, but knowing it can’t be that as he’s wearing yellow!
“nah, mate. I been on the dole too long mate and now I gotta work full time for my dole money” he admits. He looks rough I have to say – I’m shocked at the difference but then it’s been a while since I last saw him, I realise a little guiltily.

“You’re kidding mate! But no one was looking harder than you! Pat told Shelley how you were out pounding the streets all day every day!” I exclaim.

“Don’t matter mate. Rules are rules. Now I gotta look in the evenings and weekends. Gotta say tho’ mate – it sticks in my groat that I’m now doing my old job for free!”

He rushes on, “Was gonna stop by and say hello when I could of course” he mumbles, avoiding looking me in the eye.

As I stand there I’m stunned and suddenly it all makes sense – the ever increasing numbers of yellows that now seem equal to us blues; the constant lay-offs, the rumours of the
edit on 16-10-2013 by Soloprotocol because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 16 2013 @ 11:44 AM
The rumours of the never-higher numbers of sk…unemployed; the ever-rising costs of living and I realise, with a gut-wrenching sense of guilt and shame, that I did this! Me! After all – my vote counts too doesn't it?

Then, as I stand there looking at poor George who has never looked so ashamed and downhearted as long as I've known him, I hear the floor manager shouting: “DAVE! MANAGER NEEDS YOU IN HIS OFFICE RIGHT NOW! DON’T BOTHER SHUTTING YOUR STATION DOWN – WE HAVE A NEW YELLOW THAT’LL FILL IT!” and I just know, with a sinking feeling, that it’ll be me going to the dole office tomorrow and Shelley who’ll be crying on my shoulder tonight.
edit on 16-10-2013 by Soloprotocol because: (no reason given)


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