Short Story: Decision

(Trigger Warning for suicidal ideation)

The clock is ticking as you consider your options. If it wasn’t such a cliché you’d probably just step off right now and let what happens next…happen. The problem is that what you do next has ramifications for other people, not just for yourself. That’s the bit that makes you pause.

When I say the clock is ticking, that’s not just some metaphor intended to make you hurry up. You can hear it in the background right now as a steady sound slicing away the past from the haunch of today. It’s not as if there’s a complex mechanism at work either, it’s simply one of those battery operated office wall clocks.

It’s cheaply mounted on a nail that someone drove into the wall about three redecorations ago, if the paint layers are anything to go by. By all rights, it shouldn’t be making that much noise, but there’s something grinding in the tiny bearings. The dry rasping click of the second hand as it sweeps to terminate another minute is relentless.

They say that hyperawareness of your surroundings kicks in at moments of decision like this. My experience is that it’s a bit of a white lie. If you’re focused and determined the world actually shrinks to the important bits. Otherwise all this noise and detail is your mind trying to distract you from something you haven’t committed to.

The brain is good at protecting itself like that. It hides memories away while you process trauma, and picks memories in response to stimuli to remind you of similar experiences. Perhaps that’s why the ticking clock has caught you, right in this moment. You remember that time is passing, and things change. That what people say and do is of the moment they are in, and not necessarily for forever.

You remember that your problem is temporary, but this solution would be permanent; and as facile and clichéd as the ticking clock and that statement is: it’s enough.You step back from the window ledge, back down to the floor, and let people gather you up in safety and support.

Time to live a bit more.

Tough Calls

I love my job. You don’t hear that very often, but there you go. It’s true you know. The complexity of rotas and staffing and balancing the directives from above with the pragmatism of the shopfloor is all meat and drink to me. I love the challenges it brings me.

There’s a ‘but’ of course, attached to this. You know me well enough. Today that ‘but’ came courtesy of a number of calls and conversations with staff both where I was working and at our satellite branch. The same story, again and again of encounters through the week with an abusive customer.

Each person individually disclosed details in a pattern that came to feel more and more familiar. The same concerns and fears and anger of words used, actions taken and other customers abused have been disclosed through the day, and I’ve had to ask each person to write it all down and send me all the details so that I can properly log it and present it with a bow to the appropriate people who can ban the individual concerned.

“But we think management should know about this and do something about it!” I’ve heard several times today. I’ve had to reiterate that I am management, and this is how I am dealing with it – because I know how the process works and how important evidence is.

I may want to rush round and defend people in a blazing row, but I know it won’t actually solve anything. Tough calls to hear, tough calls to make. But I’m paid to do it, so there we are.