Friday, August 17, 2012
Disposable Humans. by Mark William Darus
By Mark William Darus.
Waking from sleep abruptly as her twin alarms screamed aloud in contrasting pitch and speeds. 7:30 AM EST. Sitting upright at first, taking a deep gulp of air to heave herself toward the clocks. With experienced hands, she nails both ‘snooze’ settings and drops back to the couch she embraces her nights. Eyes still closed, going back to the land that lay between sleep and the fully conscious world, she takes time to say her prayers.
Aloud, she says: “god, take good care of my family and friends. Both are the same to me in my heart. You know this, lord. Please take care of them. Please take care of everyone. Watch over the animals of this planet and the plants and waters and clouds and sky. Call me selfish and asking you to work overtime, I ask you to tend a lot! I know this. But if it’s any consolation, forget me to do what I pray! In your name, I pray.”
Hitting the snooze again, she drifts off.
Like every morning for many a decade, she gives herself a mere twenty minutes to prepare herself for coming day.
A final snapping awake, she rises. Forgetting to wipe away sleepers from tired eyes, she stands in yesterdays t-shirt and undies. Let the dogs out. Feed the cat.
Doing those, the dogs doing their business and bringing them in, she takes removes clothing and takes a shower. Feel of warm water enveloping her, she plants shampoo to her brown, thinning hair, lathering it. Taking left hand covered in cleansing foam, she washes her pubic hair, now grey. Body wet, hair areas covered his frothy white, she begins to wash herself off.
After coating herself in various soaps for both hair and body, she steps into the flowing water and rinses it all off. Leaving her in city water spraying from the old 40 year old shower head, she wonders: Why do I shower in the morning when each day leaves me with feeling so unclean? Why don’t I shower this shit off before I go to bed?
After drying body and blow drying hair with a 20 year old Conair 1500, Melanie gets dressed.
Melanie had worked for just over 8 years with a major insurance carrier as a call center rep. In that time, she had received many an accolade from many of her shifting bosses in her tenure there. On more than one occasion she had been a ‘High Performer’, it meaning she was in the Top 10% of the thousands of call reps. She showed a profound ability to assist other reps and Coaches. In her company, Coaches were somewhere between phone reps and managers, like Millwrights were to Steel Workers in a time before. When trained in areas of the company before the Coaches, that would answer questions for their team, were trained, she would gladly help them in fielding questions. She made this willingness to aide known. When the Coaches would have their weekly meetings, Melanie would, with the gratitude on her manager, be the teams, as well as other teams, be the ‘go-to” acting Coach to assist.
Over time, proving herself most worthy, she even covered the various teams she’d been on the ‘Pended Activity Reports’. If those reports hit a certain number of days, they’d fall on the shoulders of processors. When hitting processors, the manager would get an email not kind, though not judgmental, about a particular persons not keeping up. She would dutifully send team members either reminders and offer help if needed. She would also cover them when either on vacations or leaves. She did these things without being asked to do so. She did this with several managers blessings and gratitude over her time there.
Slender months before this August, after she volunteered to write for a company newsletter when announced, with the leaving of a fellow team member, she was announced as a new person to this two-person team in meeting of her peers. Her manager apologized for putting her on the spot. Melanie happily accepted this and told her manager she’d be happy to help.
Granted, Melanie’s last twelve months had not been easy for her. In this time she had begun treatment for Hypertension, went into rehab for alcoholism and was found to be bipolar in late 2010. All those things she looked back at with a child-like vision of learning to lose training wheels and ride straight and even. This was late 2011 and early 2012. She’d missed a lot of work, but FMLA covered her.
Through this process, learning to walk again, she found a need to be a member of something from her past. Bowling. She’d learned this from her father growing up. She’d been on several first place teams, had a perfect 300 in 1998. She’d lost interest a year after the perfect game. Going back to her second home, Brookgate Lanes, now known as AMF Brookgate lanes, in August 2012, without a team, knowing no one, she joined a league. Thankfully, the secretary of their Thursday night league found her a team. It was with this team she would spend every Thursday for the next twelve plus months of her life.
In July of 2012 she purchased a Kodak digital camera from a Big-lots. Always enjoying photography, loving the freedom of not having to pay for developing photos, she posted many a shot on FaceBook. After just over a month, a co-worker gave her a much better digital camera. She loved the pics this took, though uploading was extremely troublesome. She went to Dodds to trade it and after spending a meager some, held a Fujifilm S4200.
Taking shot after shot, so humbly grateful for what she would be given the chance to film, without huge fees to see final results, she moved forward.
Early March of 2012, when her psych meds leveled her, Melanie started a Blog. On this blog, the subject of psychopathy and mental illness, she would in less than 6 months have over 5600 hits and nail over 50 different countries with her 70-plus entries.
Between the bowling team she had come to feel a kin to, a profound sense to read and write again, she felt a huge ability to be useful at her job again. Not to mention a fiery passion for photography once again, she was most hopeful.
Melanie missed a few days just over a week ago. When returning the following Monday, she did her timecard.
Apparently, she made a mistake.
Melanie, now driving to work on a bright Friday morning, arrives at work after a day off. Pulling into a vacant slot in the enclosed four level parking in a suburb of Cleveland Ohio, sipping her coffee and wondering how busy this day would be as the lot is very empty at 9 AM.
Finishing her cigarette, looking into mirror while adjusting her Gander Mountain hat, she leaves her SUV.
Gazing about one of the fewest of places one could see green grass in this rainless of summers, she walks toward nearest entrance. Entering, swiping card at microchip reader, greeted with female automated voice, “Please enter the door.”
In, walking toward the bank of three elevators, pressing the ‘up’ arrow, waiting.
Arriving on floor 3, exiting to her right, greeting fellow employees with usual enthusiasm and pleasant tidings, pausing for a moment to look at the artwork this place holds most proud. She often wondered why her company paid so much for things that made little sense while her ex husband was a fantastic artist in all regards.
Sitting in the chair of her cubicle, opening systems needed to work. She was some 15 minutes doing so before her shift would begin. Normally, Melanie would be at work some 25 minutes before her shift would begin. Her systems, the company systems opened as slowly as ever, hence her reason to arrive early. Checking emails, she noticed she had a meeting scheduled that day. Such things not that uncommon after a day off. Melanie also saw emails of future trainings and an enthusiastic email about being chosen for yet another of the companies Pilot Programs. This latest about a dual monitor system.
This was about 5 minutes before her shift would begin.
Seeing her manager, she decided to visit her with enthusiastic questions regarding this new Pilot. Greeting her manager, her manager smiling back, they talked. They discussed the pilot, exchanged regards to the health of one another. Melanie asked her, with embarrassed face, where the Primate Habitat room was. Given direction, she was also given her managers wish to clear/clean her desk to grant enough room for the second 22” monitor to be placed.
Checking the time with her manager, Melanie said she had to log into the phones. Her manager said she might be a bit late for the meeting.
Melanie, being cautious after reading a corporate email about cubicle theft with purses and such, grabbed her camera bag and went to the meeting room.
Sitting in the conference room, alone, she began to wonder. Sifting through wallet, she found her doctors note. Wondering further, as no other team members arrived, glad that she had shared with her manager about her calls to her psychiatrist about the side effects her current regimen meds were causing.
After several minutes Melanie was no longer alone.
Her manager and their manager walked in and sat down.
Wow, this meeting is based on me, she thought idly.
After passing greetings, the meeting progressed.
“Melanie, we have something to address with you. That being your timecard.”
Nodding, Melanie let it continue.
“Your manager had adjusted your timecard and you went into the system and changed this.”
Looking at the triangular conference phone just left of the center of the table, Melanie feeling a huge sense of unease said: “I completed my timecard.” Stumbling for words with meaning, “this explains why my (bank) account showed more than it should have.”
Female voice, be it her manager or their manager saying: “This is serious-”
Melanie, cutting them off, stating: “No, this is VERY serious.”
This leading to some other infraction of similar events in July.
“We are suspending you without pay until investigation is completed.” Pausing, they said they’d call her with result.
Melanie, somewhat stunned, said: “okay, wow. Should I go back and log off?”
They said: Okay.
She bid them a good weekend as she walked from the conference room.
As she logged out of the their systems for the last time, a coworker asked her how she was doing. Melanie responded: I’m out of the office.
As she rounded the end of her isle, she heard laughter from the office of her managers managers office. Knowing it and its direction, she walked on. Going toward the massive neoprene art forms she aimed right for the stairwell.
After playing phone-tag til the Tuesday following, finally connecting, she was told she was terminated.
Later that day, Melanie received an Overnight Mailing. This multi-page document, that for some reason was lacking a ‘page 2’, was most well thought out.
The letter of termination stated: Our investigation findings validated that your falsified your timecard.
Just over 10 years there, embracing everything this company through her direction and meeting it head on.
Misty, teary eyed, but knowing how this company has treated comrades with enough seniority like hers in the downward economic spiral.
Melanie, reading this again, her dogs barking in the yard, wondering how many others with the company have fallen with singular infractions, decided to launch her own investigation.
Disposable Humans? How many after 10 years of employment have been chucked like me since the crash of 2008?
-Mark William Darus 08172012