Tuesday, January 04, 2005

kafka at the office

She shouldn't have taken this job which required her to speak Norwegian even though she wasn't remotely fluent. And they probably shouldn't have given her the job either - a company where the only thing that masked the managers' bumbling incompetence was the individual worker's capability of fulfilling their role without help from above.
That was one factor: Working with customers that called her all day, speaking a language that she could hardly understand (these huge feelings of guilt, because she had not yet learnt to detach herself emotionally).

Also the computer screen they had given her was slightly blurred. She didn't notice because she had never had to use one before, and she thought her headaches and the feeling of sickness in her body was just her normal reaction to working with a computer. She went to a doctor, but he just sent her to an optician without even bothering to ask questions. She had to pay for glasses which didn't make anything better. During three weeks, she repeatedly told her supervisor about this. The supervisor, an arrogant girl who was unhappy with her job but stayed on because of the pay, always told her that someone would come to look at it, but it never happened.

The pressures of fulfilling her role in a foreign language together with the daily bodily pain and sickness wore her down. She was weak, but she was also very tough. She kept on, despite breaking down and crying at her desk while her colleagues sat around not knowing what to do. She was always getting pressure from her superiors to do her job more properly, they even recommended antidepressants to her. When she talked to the highest manager in the office, he just said that she should do another job if she couldn't do this one.

She made herself stay and learnt Norwegian really quickly, and one of her colleagues who had health&safety duties came around, noticed something was wrong with the screen, and replaced it. Her problem was gone just like that, from one day to the next, a huge burden disappearing so suddenly that it took her a while to realize. When she did she became very angry. But angry not even so much with the company, but against herself for letting them do that to her. The anger, the pain, the madness, the fear, the tunnel, the eternity, the blemish, the uncertainty, this lingered for a while. That's when she told her story to me and I took the burden.