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Trash Without Reading

Page 1

Darryl Emmerson

The new job began pretty well, really, her boss gave great support without micro-management, and her colleagues were helpful enough. After five or six weeks, Michelle, who had been out of work for nearly a year, allowed herself to relax a little. Her luck seemed to be improving, she had finally fluked a low-level data-processing job, using her increasingly out-of-date IT degree. She was fully aware of the opportunity, and determined to perform well.

When her last position had ended – it hadn’t been much anyway, something in hospitality with just OK wages, and then the new penalty rate cuts – her mother had suggested Michelle leave the share house, where she couldn’t pay her way much longer, and come back home. Of course there was room, and there was, her old room, it turned out. She often felt strange, at once relieved and defeated, to sleep in her old bed, use her old wardrobe, and listen to her parents’ calm, puttering dialogue along the corridor, heard so often through all her previous life. Then again, Michelle was something of an old-fashioned girl, and it was no struggle to be a daughter again.

One morning, she switched on her phone at home, just before leaving to catch the tram. There was a message there, from someone in her department, someone she only dimly recalled:

“I’ve noticed how you don’t seem to speak up in meetings. People expect you to, you know? Why would you have been given this job if you had nothing to offer? For instance, at last week’s Section Meeting, there was an obvious point where you could have offered to bring a certain report to the next meeting. But you didn’t offer, you didn’t say a word. Don’t forget, people are looking at you all the time, and starting to make up their minds…”

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