Short Stories Series 11

Digging for Job Satisfaction 27/04/16

‘Why do you think you would be suited to this role?’ The interviewer from the earth-moving company asked, peering over her glasses at Robert.
‘Well, I’m very passionate about digging.’ Robert said. ‘Digging builds homes, gives workers a purpose, creates new environments. I enjoy doing it and I can impart that enjoyment to others to create a good team work ethic.’ The interviewer nodded.
‘What do you know about machinery?’ Robert sniffed and replied,
‘Machinery can dig larger amounts faster, and make the job simpler. But personally I think there is no substitute for the authentic, personal and detailed work of a dedicated worker.’

One month later, Robert was working at the earth-moving company. But it was not the experience he had expected. He was put in management, and had to do a lot of paperwork concerning machinery. He never got to do any actual digging at all. As the months passed Robert found the work more and more depressing. No one was doing their own digging work anymore. He had to resist the urge to shred the paperwork. Eventually he decided the job just wasn’t for him and handed in his resignation.

So it came about that only two months later Robert was attending another job interview, this time for a wholesale internet grocery store who were seeking quality assurance officers. His particular role would be in the department testing the quality of the fresh fruit and vegetables.
‘So what do you think you could bring to this position?’ Asked the interviewer, giving Robert an encouraging smile.
‘I really have a great deal of experience judging the quality of vegetables.’ Said Robert. ‘Especially carrots, I have eaten a lot of carrots in my lifetime.’ This was very true. Robert was a very talented rabbit. Tracy thought there was no more ideal candidate for the position.
‘I just have a few concerns about how you will return your reports…’

Patchwork 28/04/16

Lei often felt that she had a patchwork life. Some days she would curl beneath a patchwork rug made for her as a baby and pretend to be tiny again, a novel open at the entrance to this tent. The book would be an entrance to a different world, a patch in the quilt that existed only in her imagination, but that she believed in wholeheartedly. There were many of these patches, strange imaginings from her childhood that she had kept like scraps in the sewing basket, or memories that seemed valuable though they were very small, like a leaf that floated down and landed between her and Ray on the park bench one Autumn.

On other days, Lei dressed in office clothes and led a different life, typing in entries and answering phones. These days were like neatly checked patches, black and white and organised, but they lay beside moments like swirling rainbow squiggles in the quilt of her life.

People were like patches too. From high school, there were the bold coloured polka dot memories of the boy who made her laugh, and the tiny detailed florals of girls who held her hand and skipped across the oval in the afternoons when the bell sounded to release them from classes. But they were neatly edged and abutted by the pinstriped lines of the chemist she had met at university and the colleagues who shared her lunch hour with tales of homes and children.

Lei was a patchwork of acrylic paints and data entry, novels and afternoon lap swimming. Whenever she finished with her novel days, she would fold up her quilt and place it on her pillow, ready for the dreams that would bring new colours and patterns to its design.


Number Jumble 29/04/16

The message said ‘are you going tonight? If you are, could you take my sport bag’. Lyn had absolutely no idea what this meant. She hadn’t been invited anywhere tonight and she didn’t know Mick even had a sports bag, let alone why she should know where it was and be able to take it to some place she hadn’t been invited. Receiving this message rattled her. Most likely it was just accidentally sent to her when it was meant for someone else. But it made her feel like she’d missed some huge important bit of her life where she knew where Mick kept his sports bag and some common friend had invited them both somewhere. And it wasn’t just that. It was the way it felt as though she could see inside the lives of Mick and whoever this message was meant for. Like something that should have been a communication between them had been lost in translation because she had it, and it would never be quite the same message, even when it was finally passed to the correct person. She shook her head at these odd musings and typed a reply.
‘Hi Mick. This is Lyn – not sure that last message was meant for me. Wouldn’t even know if your sports bag was a real item lol’. She hit send. Then she put her phone in her handbag and drove home.

After she’d pulled into her carport and locked up the car, she went into her shade house where she had a bench swing, sat down among the plants and got out her thermos cup and her phone. Then she noticed two odd things. The first was a sneaker, lying on the ground by her front door. It did not belong to her. The second was that Mick hadn’t said anything in reply to her text. That seemed weird to her. Surely if you’d mistakenly messaged the wrong person and they let you know, you’d say something back, at least ‘oops’, or something. Frowning, she went and unlocked the front door.

Something was eery in the entrance foyer. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it but she felt all shivery and scared. She went very, very cautiously into her living room. She stood still and looked all around her in a slow circle. Suddenly a chorus of shouts burst forth, making Lyn jump out of her skin. There in front of her were all her friends, with balloons, including Mick in a clown suit. Lyn said
‘Whaaat……’ Before she realised what the big important thing she’d forgotten today actually was. It was her birthday. She put her hands on her hips.
‘Hey Mick, next time you’re involved in organising a surprise party, you might want to make sure you don’t text the person it’s for.’ She held up her phone and laughed. ‘Oh, and you lost your shoe.’ Everybody groaned and laughed and then Lyn was surrounded by balloons and cake, and she forgot all about the strangeness and creepiness and ate cake and hugged friends until midnight.

It was only after everyone had gone home, and she was sitting in her recliner in her slippers, sipping chamomile tea, that Lyn thought back to when she’d received the text, and to the feeling of coming into her house and knowing someone was there. And she decided that even though it had been an excellent party, she didn’t really like surprises.


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