Series Two: Chapter Nine

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December 16, 2014 by helenwaldron

In which we learn that Harald has a healthy appetite, and is not what he seems.
***
“So how do you know each other?” asked Writewell, as the four of them sat in a tapas bar and ate fish.

“Hmm those tapas look great,” said Maren, longingly, as a terracotta tiered plate was brought to the table behind them. “Why didn’t we order that?”

“Because I’m hungry,” said Harald Sakony. “Tapas are just nibbles. I like real food.”

“Harald Sakony. The scourge of every company canteen.”

“It’s true,” Maren went on. “There was that one company where they had a fixed price meal and you could pile your plate as high as you liked. Harald piled his tray and said he’d spilt it.”

“I was hungry,” said Harald. “I live alone. These canteen dudes can cook better than me so it’s the main meal of the day.”

“Dudes?” said Writewell.

“I’ve lived in the States,” said Harald Sakony. “New York City, to be exact.”

“Were you on business there?”

Maren and Speakeasy smiled.

“Sure I was. My own business. I’m a musician, you see. Was. Am. Would like to be.”

“We met – where did we meet?” Maren looked dreamily from Harald to Speakeasy (who shrugged and slurped at his Spanish beer).

“Maybe it was the canteen place,” said Harald. “Whatever. We kept bumping into each other and we both recognized that we were just contract workers”.

Harald put down his knife and fork and made that wiggly index finger gesture with both hands as he said the word “just”.

“You can always tell a contract worker. He works harder because he’s hoping to impress the boss and be taken on long-term, but he’s ashamed of himself because he earns half as much as his colleagues. And he’s always being stigmatized. You’re in the second-class employee club. It’s as if a big finger is pointing down at you wherever you go. You do the same work as your colleagues for half the pay, you don’t get included in any of the company beanos. It even says it in your email address. Harald.SakonyEXT@whatever. You tend to stick together under such circumstances.”

Laidback Harald, the musician dude who sometimes wore a suit, was getting angry.

Somewhere in the darkness a Portuguese fado singer started wailing. That’s not Spanish, Writewell thought. Nothing’s as it seems in this town.

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Helen Waldron

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Teachers as Workers

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