The Invading Darkness

Light in the Darkness

Image by Michael Mistretta via Flickr

Suki went to work feeling happy, pleasantly determined to work like a donkey, ignoring pain and tiredness, as she used to do when all doors and possibilities of a brilliant career were still on the table. And so she did, the first four hours, organizing the merchandise beautifully, tidying up, taking her cages in and out. Suki was singing, as she always does, because music helps her spirit to maintain concentration on the job and the body to keep the rhythm (isn’t that why they sing those songs in the Army?). Suki thought “This is a brand new day, a bright new start.”

Then an Apprentice of Manager came to her, around five o’clock, asking: “How many time of break do you still have?” Suki answered “One hour!” “Then, you have to take it now!” “Why?” “Because Mr. Supreme said that you have to!” “Well, tell Mr. Supreme that I can’t have one whole hour of break now! It’s the Health and Safety Regulations!” How come this, may you ask… Suki’s job is a physically demanding one, like a sport. It takes time to warm up the muscles and get them to work well. If the warming up isn’t done properly, the workers are subject to all kinds of accidents, that can include resulting in paralysis. When the muscles are all warmed up and the workers take one hour of break, then the muscles cool off, the pain comes and it’s quite difficult to restart. Suki likes to work, she doesn’t like to be there blowing balloons. It’s already difficult enough at the beginning of the day, because in practice the workers really don’t have the time to warm up. There was a time when Suki went to work walking, not only for economical reasons, but she realised that when she arrived it was much, much easier to get into the rhythm. To be able to restart the body when having one hour break in the middle of the day (uuufff!)… It’s almost a miracle.

The Apprentice went away. Soon enough, Mr. Supreme came to Suki, with an outraged look on his face and said: “You must have your breaks in the middle of your working day, because this is the convenience of the factory.” Convenience of… Well, as Suki remembers, the breaks were created, in the first place, to protect the Worker, not the factories. The breaks prevent the Worker from doing excessively long turns of effort and from risking accidents caused by tiredness. Suki explained that to Mr. Supreme. “I’m sorry! It’s the System!” Well, then the system forces her to take her breaks, one hour and a half, concentrated between half past three and six o’clock. Yes, because when she tried to take her first break at two o’clock, “No, you can’t, because there are too many persons in break at this time!” OK. Half past two? “No, people have lunchtime. You must wait until everybody comes back!” “Three o’clock, then? “There are still persons at break! YOU MUST wait until everybody comes back!” That’s why Suki said between half past three and six o’clock.  Hey, but you are forgetting some important detail: between four and five no-one, but absolutely no-one can have a break.  What’s left for her, then? Half an hour from half past three to four. One hour from five to six. One shift of four hours and a half, then one shift of one hour, then one shift of two hours. And there is something absolutely blinded in the middle of this story. Why her, why Suki has to wait until everybody else comes back to be entitled to a break?

Suki explained that to Mr. Supreme, as she could.  And she asked: “Who else in this factory is forced to have one hour break in these terms?” “Ah, many people have…” Yes, they have because they want, because they chose to (as Suki knows, everybody walks in and out of the factory when they want, for a cigarette, for a chat, to go anywhere else, at the point that the Direction had to put the Security counting the minutes, because they lost track of their own workers). “Who else is forced to…” No-one.

Suki told Mr. Supreme: “I didn’t want to issue a complaint for detriment when I was told that I have no future in this factory, for the fact that I was promised that after Christmas I would be doing training to evolve in my career. I didn’t want to complain that I was yelled at here, that I was lied to, (how many times?), that I was forced to close my eyes to violations of the principles of the Company… But this is already too much to me. Are you sure that you want to do this?“ He laughed: “Who are you going to complain to?” After all, HE IS Mr. Supreme. Suki told him who she was going to complain to (I can’t say it here, because the Company would be identifiable and they finally would have a good reason to sack me). But Suki told him about the governmental agencies that take care of problems of discrimination. “Discrimination?!” He laughed at her again. “Yes, that’s the only way I can understand the difference in the way I’m treated here, this harassment that happens here every day!” “You are doing blackmail with me!” he said. “No, I’m not! I’m going to act legally, accomplishing every step that the Law previews, on something that I can’t bear any more.  It’s a right that, as a Worker, I’m entitled to.” And Suki thinks that it’s much more honourable to warn him than to do it on his back. Suki was never the treacherous kind of person.

Suki asked him: “Mr. Supreme, think for a while! What am I going to do here during one hour of break? You know that I can’t go home!” He asked: “What do the other ones do?” “They talk!” But, if Suki is forced to go for a break when everybody comes back, how can she talk to anyone? In practice, this is a sort of segregation, which is more a violence to the spirit. “Oh, then you are saying that you can’t take one hour of break because you can’t talk?” “Mr. Supreme, please don’t try to take advantage on the fact that I’m a foreigner to put meanings in my words that I didn’t mean to say!” Suki told him again that her fundament to a refusal is in the Health and Safety regulations. “Then, if you can’t stand the effort (not in these exact words) of this job, you must look for something else! (exact words)”

And this is it.

Suki went home, before her shift ended, crying and with her heart beating excessively. She was so nervous that she almost couldn’t stand up.

Suki didn’t go to work today.

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