Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Story 132: Counter-Strike

            She could see them huddling again, but chose to ignore them: this report was not going to write itself, and it hadn’t been writing itself for three weeks now.
            She heard her name spoken in a hushed voice and she turned to see her co-worker standing behind her.  “It’s official,” he said.  “We’re going out tomorrow."
            “Ooh, on a date?”  It had been ages.
            “No!  On a strike!”  Frantic “Ssh!”s made him lower his voice again.  “The union let us know that it won't start until tomorrow morning, just in case our demands are met at the eleventh hour.  I highly doubt they will be.”
            “OK.”  He seemed to wait for her to say something more substantial.  “Yay?”
            “Good,” he said, adding over his shoulder as he moved on to the next employee, “we strike at 9 a.m. tomorrow .”
            “Thanks!”  Finally, some variety to her week.  Work was getting so boring lately.
            [9:30 a.m. the next day]
            She was comfortably ensconced in front of her TV, wearing her pajamas and eating kiddie cereal, when her phone rang.
            “Where are you?!”
            “Striking – where are you?”
            “Striking!  In front of work where everyone else is!  You were supposed to be here by 9:00!”
            “You said we were striking at 9; you didn’t say anything about showing up at work at 9.”
            “What do you think a strike means?!”
            “Not working?”  Did someone forget to tell her that this was Opposite Day?
            “Yeah, and you’re supposed to be on the picket line with the rest of us!”
            “Oh.  No, sorry, I didn’t sign up for anything like that.”
            “You did too when you joined the union!  Get over here right now or else you’re out!”  The call disconnected abruptly: this sounded serious.
            She drove up to the building, parked in her normal spot on the grass, and took a moment to watch her co-workers marching in endless circles as they wore or held large signs.  “Urgh,” she mused to herself as she walked up to meet her union leader.
            “It’s about time!  What are you wearing?!”  He got right down to business.
           She was not about to apologize for refusing to change out of her pajamas for this farce, although she had to concede that the wet pavement proved the slippers to be a poor choice.  “There’s so many people here – no one would notice that I’m missing!”  She accurately observed instead. 
           He responded by shoving a sandwich board over her head and shouting “March!” at everybody.
            “I don’t see how me walking around with a sign hurts the company any more than if I had just stayed at home – both are equally non-productive.”  She was on fire today with her solid arguments.
            “We have to have visibility!  They must meet our demands!”
            “All I know is, they’re nice and warm inside, and we’re cold and freezing outside, plus we’re wasting a perfectly good free day.”  She would have won this debate if he had not taken the coward’s way out by turning his back on her and walking over to the infinity circle.
            It was 35°F, and she had forgotten to bring gloves.  Cars would drive by and honk their horns to show their support, and one stopped next to her.
            “What’s the strike for?”  The driver asked.
            She had no idea.  “Down with The Man?”  It sounded about right.
            “Yeah!  Down with The Man!”  The driver cheered and tooted his horn all the way down the street.
            After an hour, when she had been splashed by mud from passing cars for the fifth time, she flung the sandwich board onto the ground.  “That’s it!  I refuse to endure these conditions a moment longer!”  She marched ironically toward her car.
          “Hey!  Where do you think you’re going?!”  The union leader shouted at her through a bullhorn.
            “I’m striking this strike!”  She appreciated the resulting gasps of horror from her co-workers.
            “You can’t do that!”  He yelled, still through the bullhorn.  “It’s against the union rules!”
            “The union’s run by a bunch of fascists!”
            Louder gasps and even murmurs rippled down the picket line.  The local news reporter and camera crew ran over to the confrontation.
            “There seems to be a new wrinkle to the ongoing labor issues here,” the reporter said to the camera on her way over.  “Tell us, miss, what are your complaints against the union, of which you appear to be an involuntary member?”
            “Well Jade,” everyone in town could recognize Jade from The Morning Posse, “it’s about time that someone spoke out against unfair striking conditions, against the non-existent pay for work that is equivalent to what was done on the job, and against the pain and suffering endured during these pointless perambulations.”
            “She doesn’t speak for the union!”  He chimed in.
            “I will no longer be silenced!”
            She picked up the sandwich board and threw it at him; he ducked it and tackled her.  The other strikers surrounded the combatants, waving their signs as they cheered the fighters on.
            Jade and the camera approached a woman in a suit who was watching all this off to the side.
            “And ma’am, which side in this off-shoot strike are you taking?”
           “Well Jade, considering that I’m the company’s president, my official stance is that I take neither side in any internal conflict.”
            “Do you have any comment on this new development?”
            “Only that I think this bodes very well for our future negotiations with the union.”
            “I’ll say.”

No comments:

Post a Comment