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Trash Without Reading

Page 2

Darryl Emmerson

Michelle felt a little jolted by these words, but then reflected, well, perhaps she could speak up a little more, make her presence felt more strongly. Good idea, probably. She decided she’d try it out, so wrote back to the sender, appreciating her feedback and saying she’d ‘take it on board’.

At the staff meeting the next day, there certainly came a moment where a point could be made, a point which, oddly, seemed to occur to no one else. She took a little breath and, actually with pretty good timing, spoke up. 'I’m just wondering if we could look at this another way', and outlined her idea. It was received quite positively, though with polite surprise, by her boss and other colleagues. She slowly began to feel, later in the meeting, when she had calmed herself, someone’s eyes on her, not the message-sender, but another newish worker, Jacklyn. When the latter became aware of Michelle’s return gaze, she looked away.

Years earlier Michelle had found - just one of those strange things every person has – that her mood, on waking each day, was always much affected by the first sounds she heard, the first words spoken or written to her. It was a subtle thing. What she liked best was a blend of kind, or calm, or funny words, put in a gentle tone, either directly to her, or from another room, not necessarily by anyone she knew, even an email, the television or radio would do. She had always gained this re-assurance from her parents, also from her ex-boyfriend Jake, even from her too-relaxed former housemates. So it was a rough awakening two days later when the first words that day were from the message-sender, arriving, like all her email, with an irksome ping in the inbox:

‘So you took my advice, did you? That’s good. But it seems you went a bit too far, don’t you see that? Your suggestion effectively ticked off your boss and the entire team, made it seem they were too thick to have thought of this before. You really have to be careful of how you’re coming across, you know… Before you know it, you’ll be labelled a bit of a problem, someone who might be respected a little, but really a resident pest…’

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