The New Employee
An Unpalatable Task
Angela tottered across the warehouse floor in high heels, the heady scent of her designer perfume lingering in the dusty atmosphere. Dressed immaculately, she looked distinctly out of place in her new surroundings. With her aquiline noise poised high in the air, she deliberately failed to acknowledge the greetings of any of the existing workforce.
"Stuck up dolly bird - she won't last five minutes in this place," predicted another employee, sniggering to one of her workmates, as Angela strutted past. "And just look at her nails; she'll never be able to open boxes all day with talons like that."
"Right, that's GOODS IN and that's GOODS OUT," explained the supervisor. "Check everything against the invoice before it's put into stock. Understand?"
Angela nodded coldly, her pretentiousness unaltered. "Any questions?"
She shook her head.
At tea-break, Angela perched herself aloofly on a palette of unopened boxes. Like some rare bird preening its feathers, she began to file her nails, ignoring any attempts at conversation by those around her.
"Can't sit there luv, I'll be loading that lot onto the lorry in a bit," said Ken, the forklift truck driver, moving her swiftly on with a cheerful grin.
Tossing her neatly tied ponytail over one shoulder in an act of sheer defiance, Angela cast him an icy glare before searching for somewhere else to sit. Someone brought her a battered, wooden chair and eyeing it suspiciously, she inspected it for splinters before sitting down.
"Here's some overalls for you," said the supervisor, "just need a bit of a wash that's all, and tomorrow, wear sensible shoes."
Angela stared disdainfully at the soiled, crumpled garments, before reluctantly accepting them, still maintaining her silence.
"What's her name then?" whispered one of the storekeepers, when the new girl was out of earshot.
"Nice name, but she's not exactly angelic is she!"
"Thinks she's a bit above us, I reckon," laughed Ken. "Won't say a word to anyone."
"Well, I've just the job for her," said the supervisor, smugly. "If she's too grand to be civil to people like us, then I'll find her something to do on her own."
With tea break over, she led Angela down to the far end of the warehouse. It was cooler and dustier than the rest of the building and she cringed as an eerie feeling crept over her. The air was damp, there were no windows, and little ventilation and the only indications there were others on the premises was a crackly radio blaring and muffled voices coming from a long way off.
The supervisor pointed to a huge stack of boxes, "It's quite simple," she explained. "They're full of Camay soap in banded packs. Buy three bars and you get a free, pink soap dish. Trouble is the boss is a mean old git who doesn't want to give away the free soap dish, so you'll have to divide up them all up so they can be sold separately - and mind you don't tear the wrappers. Nice quiet job for someone who likes being on their own, eh?"
Angela still remained silent, her expression as bland as that on a mannequin. Gazing up in despair at the boxes of soap towering above her she began her arduous task. By lunchtime, she had worked her way through three of them, but tedium was fast setting in. As her fellow employees made their way to a dingy cafe across the road, she was near to tears.
"What's up, love? Jobs are hard to come by these days and beggars can't be choosers you know," said one of the workers, trying hard to befriend her.
"I'm not a beggar though," Angela finally said, through misty eyes, her expensive, waterproof mascara beginning to smudge. "I just failed my exams that's all, but after this experience, I'm determined to make a fresh start and re-sit them. I can't stand this place a moment longer."
With that said, Angela walked out of the warehouse and into the glaring mid-day sun to greet the rest of her life.
© 2015 Stella Kaye