Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Courtyard 2

But that wasn't what life was all about, not the way they said it.

That's what he believed, anyway.

He preferred people who were the same every day. A job was a very long thing, year after year, and you wanted someone who had a cheery smile, did his hours and didn't take time off sick; good old-fashioned basics. Remember when they found the German wasp in the yard last summer? Ian, Bill, Mike and Tom had been out there; everyone gathered round to have a look. You might say they were only the workmen but they were the ones who kept it all going.

Skills weren't really all that important. There was nothing you couldn't teach a good worker in a few weeks. A few weeks wasn't much when he might be around for forty years or more.

What about that feller upstairs who resigned in his second week? He told his manager that he didn't like working in an office. He might have had plenty of qualifications, but you only had to meet him to know that he would never be interested in seeing a big German wasp. He hardly said a word while he was here. He tapped away on his phone, but nobody knew who to. When someone doesn't say, people don't like to ask. You have to unbend a bit, have a laugh, talk things over with your workmates. You're here for the long haul. That's what gets you through.

This was real life. You come back, year after year, to the same chair. This time of year the fields are yellow with buttercups; in winter you have to go carefully; in August a lot of people are on holiday.

There were no Ranjits and no Polacks here. Not that it would bother him. But how would they fit in, how could you have a real laugh with someone, like when Bill went into one of his rants about the gyppos up Cleary. Our sides would be splitting because Bill is a very funny man, but these people might be gyppos themselves and how would you tell?

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