Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Send not for whom the bell tolls

Wednesday 30th June 2004

The office was quiet yesterday morning, and I was in my section with my assistants Adrian Taylor and Caron Maryatt, and we were talking in an inconsequential way about various projects (I think we were just going through the motions actually, since nothing important was said, and nothing conclusive was decided. It was as if we had each, independently, decided we would have an easy day…).

Anyway, while we were so occupied we heard a woman’s scream, from the far side of the general office (which is big, divided up into cubicles and partitioned sections and glass offices). The scream had come from the admin sections over by the windows, and was so loud one imagined someone burning themselves on the laminating machine or cutting themselves on the guillotine. I briefly considered standing up and having a look, but decided it might be bad manners to intrude on someone’s calamity.

Later, in the afternoon, Adrian Taylor told me that one of the new order loaders had been sacked. She was dismissed for suddenly getting up from her desk and screaming out of the window (presumably to relieve some stress or frustration) as well as various other incidents of odd behaviour (muttering and swearing to herself). I had not been introduced to the woman, and only remember seeing her once – a short, rather overweight person in her fifties. Her dismissal meant nothing to me…

…except that I was rather uneasy about how quickly someone had been removed for nothing more serious than behaving oddly. I tried to discuss it with Adrian Taylor, but he just laughed and said the general view on the sales desk (who witnessed the incident) was that the whole thing was a joke. Only Craig Wymer in the valves section next door looked over the partition and commented on the large number of staff who lose their jobs for trivial reasons. “Send not for whom the bell tolls” I said to him, but he just looked back at me blankly.