Saturday, 8 August 2015

Thanks For Firing Me



The most insulting thing you could ever say to me, is that I'm stupid.

Call me bossy or boisterous, and call me aggressive because I'm a woman with a brain.
If you call me stupid, you might unravel me.

Two days ago, I was a scared little girl beaten by bad luck. I stood at a crossroads, and pulled the pin out of a grenade. I had no compass or atlas, no obvious direction towards my future. All I had was myself, and not much was left. Today, I'm starting my life all over again.

I spent weeks, maybe months trying to find something perfect to write about. I spent the longest time trying to evict shadows and exorcise self doubt, and I spent nights worrying that I was losing the ability to tell a story, especially my own. My life kept changing, and there was no record of any of it.

All I remember is landing on a rough charcoal side street.

I don't necessarily remember how I fell, only that I did.

I remember the cracks and the crunch beneath my legs, and slow motion landings.

It only took about five seconds.

I'll tell you what really happened.

I had nothing to say.

In June, I broke my ankle as I rushed through a job you insisted I do instead of doing it yourself. The whole experience was like when I gasped for gas and air as they forced my useless limb, broken and limp, in place to set whatever bones they could. The backs of my eyes forced a blood orange sky of shadows and repetition, unfamiliar voices and the faint warmth of plaster on bare skin. There were heavy words trapped in my mouth. I swallowed them down like a thick mist in my throat. I couldn't move my lips or my hands, and my face was a finger paint canvas of muddy espresso and black. It was streaked with the face that I had built before the fall, but my new face was smothered by what ifs and salt water. My new face had no where to hide.

Today, I stared at my leg, and I realised something. This is never going away.

The sting seared through the ivory beneath the swell, and I pushed two fingers down on white skin. I couldn't feel a thing, and they say it might always be this way. One thing that won't always be the same is my story. Those words that were caught inside my throat have found their way out, and they're not going away.

To recap, I promised myself that I would turn a blind eye to any bad practice. After all, I had this insatiable need to obtain information, and expose it. Like any real writer, I could find a story to tell and for once, I didn't want to do it. One of my greatest weaknesses is seeing wrongdoing, and going out of my way to make it right again. I chose to protect myself, and plead ignorance. I enjoyed my job, and I had something to prove. So I let it all go, but I didn't forget it. I didn't forget that you fired a girl a month before you hired me, because you didn't like her personality.

During the last six weeks I've been hoarding clutter, and collecting miseries like old trophies. I suffered an extensive trauma, I lost my beloved dog and now I've lost my job. When I ripped open that letter, I expected my payslip. After all, what could I have possibly done wrong after six weeks of hospitals and cabin fever?

I was astounded by the power play, about the lack of compassion and the swift dismissal of ethics. I was stunned by the lack of professionalism. I was not surprised that you didn't sign it yourself.

You gave me no contract, and this hurts us both. This means I have no confidentiality agreements, and no loyalties to you. Although it means I never entered a legally binding contract that would protect my employment, it also means you can't say anything when I admit to knowing the things that you do. There are scraps of dirt and secrecy, messy paper trails and cocaine in pockets. I could name you, but I probably won't. Because wouldn't that please you? I can imagine the eye roll and "She didn't?!" but then maybe I think I should surprise you. I have a reputation, and so do you.

Who's scaring who?

You fed me the lie that I was fired due to cuts in the business, until you advertised my job that night. In fact, you fired me because I defended my rights- in private. I expressed my upset that you demoted me due to my injury, and you thought I should be grateful instead of wronged. You fired me because you didn't like me, and you were a puppet of your pride. You admitted this, and I recorded it. You say there's nothing I can do, that you can fire me without warning, and without reason. I say that there's plenty I can do about it. You've done this before, and you will do it again.

"I won't be held responsible for your reaction, Shelley."
"I won't be held responsible for you breaking the law."
I cut you off.
That's the last time we will speak of it.

***

The moral of my story, is never let anyone convince you that you're stupid or undeserving. There's always something you can do, and stories you can tell. You can warn people, and you can do your part to make sure this never happens to you again.

I don't accept this simply because they think I should, and I don't stop fighting because they expect me to. I can't work because I can't walk yet, and I can't forget this when I have daily reminders. There is now metal pushing underneath skin and wounds that mark their existence. I now own trinkets of silver plates and screws, sharp fixtures in cartilage. Every time I see my damages, I remember what I deserve.

I have no doubt that you wanted me to go away quietly. To be honest, I would have if I had deserved it. I can accept wrongdoing, but can you?

Everyone is limited, everyone is forcing their way through debilitating pain to get through the day. Wherever we go, there are landslides of broken bones, cascades of abandoned hearts and miles upon miles of dead broken roads. We take precautions, and we protect ourselves the best that we can. Our protection starts to rust, and cracks start to show before our scaffolding falls eventually, and we go into states of repair. Our bones crush beneath our weight, and we hold them together. There is no tape and glue, no quick fix. There is only the most human of solutions, to be helpless, and to recover.

People break things all the time. They break young bones, china cups and pretty little people. They chip teeth and the sides of their cars. They break things they can't touch, or don't want to. People break down, break up and break even. People recover from the most remarkable and imperfect fractures.

You didn't break me, you reminded me that I deserve more.
I remembered that I'm far more intelligent, far more brave than I would have you believe.
You'll always think of me as a "Silly little girl."
I'll always think of you as the saddest human being, as a forgettable silver scar.