‘The problem is I can’t sit.’
‘What, not at all?’
‘No. I can stand and lie down’.
Luke is conducting this conversation from the floor. He’s positioned the computer, so it’s tilted towards where he’s currently lying.
‘See?’, he says.
‘Yes. I can see that would be difficult to work from a supine position.’
‘I’ve tried’, says Luke.
It’s only 11.15 and this is your third phone call. Over the last two days the third calls of the day have all proven to be highly problematic. This call is completing the triumvirate.
‘He’s tried to work while lying on his back’. A new face appears on the screen, leaning into shot.
‘Wait a minute,’ the new face says.
The face disappears.
‘He’s going to get another laptop to show you how I’ve tried’. says Luke.
‘That’s really not necessary.’ you say.
There is a long silent hiatus while you wait for the laptop to be produced.
You examine your face in the corner of the screen. Note you’ve only put makeup on one eye.
Luke is picking at the corner of the rug he’s lying on.
‘Is he your flatmate?’ You say.
‘He’s my brother.’
‘Oh, nice brother.’
You have been on this call for 20 minutes. Luke has incurred a ‘working from home during the pandemic injury.’
‘How did you do it?’, you’d asked in the first thirty-five seconds of the call.
‘The Wellness Program the company rolled out.’
‘What about it?’ you’d said.
‘I was doing the Lotus.’
‘Yes?’ you’d said. Luke was from IT and was unused to speaking in complete sentences. ‘What about Lotus?’
‘I did the Lotus and then, well that was it. I haven’t been able to sit since. I’m in excruciating pain.’
‘Well, did you warm-up?’
‘It was the warm-up.’ said Luke.
Luke’s brother has reappeared. He stands in front of the camera, showing you the laptop. Like you’ve never seen one. He smiles at you, turns around to hand Luke the laptop.
‘Go on Lukey’, he says, ‘Show her how you’ve tried to work lying on your back’.
‘It’s ok’, you call. ‘I don’t need to see him typing from the floor. I get that it’s not possible’.
But Luke’s brother is determined. He’s straddled over him insisting he take the laptop.
Byron arrives. Jumps on your lap like a circus performer and looks directly into the camera.
Luke’s brother turns towards the camera to show you the inappropriateness of Lukey working from the floor.
‘Oh wow’. says Luke’s brother. ‘What a cool dog, what’s his name?’
‘Byron.’ you say.
‘Like the Bay?’ he says.
‘Like the poet.’ you say.
Luke’s brother clears the frame, so you have an unfettered view of Luke attempting to work on his computer.
‘Anyway Luke, I can see that you’ve incurred an injury and it’s not possible for you to work under these conditions.’
Luke’s brother reappears in frame.
‘So, will he get compo?’ says Luke’s brother.
‘I’m the first step in the process I’ll have to refer him to OH and S’.
‘Well, you can see he’s injured. Show her how you can’t get up Lukey.’
Luke demonstrates how he can’t get up by turning slowly onto one side and groaning.
‘I can see he’s in pain.’ you say. ‘I don’t need to see him trying to move’.
‘The first day I had to help him to the toilet.’ says Luke’s brother.
You’re dying to go to the toilet. The mere mention of toilet has triggered your bladder.
‘Right well that’s very nice of you,’ you say.
‘Hey Derek, shut up.’ says Luke from the floor.
‘She has to know how bad it’s been Lukey.’
‘My name is Kat.’ you say.
‘Hey Kat,’ says Derek, ‘I just want some justice for my little brother.’
‘I’m older than you.’ says Lukey.
Your bladder is now sending constant signals to your brain that it needs to be prioritised above Lukey and brother Derek. You have to get off the phone without giving the impression you want to get off the phone.
Luke is now trying to type with one hand while lying on his side.
‘Ok so Luke, have you seen a physio or a GP?’
‘No, he hasn’t but I’ve given him mega Vitamin C.’ says Derek.
‘Right I don’t know if that will help.’ you say.
‘How can he see a doctor?’ says Derek his face reappearing in front of the screen. They’re not letting you into the clinic.
‘They see you in the car,’ you say. ‘I went last week.’
You’d been having terrible headaches. The doctor talked to you in the car park through the window. Take breaks between calls, he’d said. Go and look out the window for a couple of minutes. Last time you’d done that the couple from upstairs were having a massive row on the street. She threw a shoe at him. She was wearing two shoes so must have had one secreted about her person which you’d found intriguingly pre-emptive.
‘I think she’s frozen.’ you heard Derek say. ‘She hasn’t moved.’
‘Sorry.’ you lie, returning from the thrown shoe musing, ‘I was frozen. What were you saying?’
‘I was saying, what’s with the whole yoga thing?’ says Derek.
‘Well it’s to help employees manage their stress better.’
‘Does Lukey look less stressed to you?
‘No he doesn’t but maybe he wasn’t doing the asana right.’
There is silence.
Why did you say that Kat? That is not going to engender an early release to the toilet.
Derek leans in close to the camera. You can see a small scar above his eyebrow.
‘Maybe you could pay your people more instead of getting them to do Yoga. They’d be less stressed if they had more money wouldn’t they.’
‘They’re not my people.’ you say. ‘I just work here like Luke.’
Oh great buck passing there Kat you think to yourself.
‘We’ll be in touch.’ says Derek with some menace.
‘Shut up Derek.’ says Luke.
‘I’m not saying that I don’t…’you commence.
Derek disconnects the call.
You sigh heavily to yourself. ‘I’m meant to be good at dealing with people’, you say to Byron.
It’s 11. 45, you have another 5 hours, 15 minutes to go until you can clock off. Have a gin.
You return from the toilet, dial in the zoom code. Call number four coming up. The fourth calls of the day have been relatively good, so fingers crossed.
You look down at Byron doing a downward facing dog on the floor next to you.
‘Careful Byron.’ you say. ‘Careful’.