Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Work in Progress

“What a way to ruin a birthday… Booked a quiet table in a fancy restaurant and she’s a no show… Not even a call? Hope it’s not another birthday breakup…”
He quickly hit post so he wouldn’t have to think about how appropriate the comments might be. He was, simply, pissed off. With a sigh, he went back to perusing the menu. Maybe she was just caught up at work again. Maybe.

“So, half a microg of ketamine for every kg, so that makes it about 35? Might round up to 40 microg, which is let’s see... Hmm.”
“Don’t forget...”
“Yes, I know, I’ll never live that down will I? Usual dose of medaz, don’t want to cause any problems! And I trust you will have the spares in place?”
“Of course. As always. Do you remember the last time I didn’t? No! Because there hasn’t been one. Just get your bit right.”

Alice stared vacantly at the rail map on the carriage wall. ‘Hmm’ , she thought, ‘three more stations. If we ever start moving again’. There had been the usual bland statement from the driver, at least this time she could understand what he was saying. Delays affecting the Caboolture line in both directions, blah blah blah... All she needed now was to hear that the wonderful ‘railbuses’ would be running tonight. Already late, and with no battery left after playing that stupid word game. She cursed under her breathe and went back to ignoring the slightly wild smelling young man next to her.

“Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please.” The voice was scratchy but clear enough. “Due to disruptions on the Caboolture line this evening, we will be stopping at Zilmere and detraining all passengers. Buses are currently waiting and will be stopping at all stations to Caboolture. Please ensure you take all your belongings with you when you exit the train.”

This time Alice cursed out loud, as did a few other people in the crowded carriage. The buses were slow, crowded, and just plain annoying. Alice didn’t care what the reason was, it was just bloody annoying.
“ Probably another stupid kid trying to train surf,” she muttered, thinking back to recent news reports. She was sure there would be another 30 second grab on the news about a ‘police incident’ causing delays. Again. With a sigh she felt the train rock as it started moving again slowly. Alice didn’t bother getting up and moving to the doors, enough idiots were already there. They wouldn’t leave anyone behind. Well... Not when they could charge them a ticket price.

Three buses had pulled up in the carpark at Zilmere station. By the time Alice got through the doors and down the stairs, all three had pulled out, the last leaving as she got to the door. The driver just ignored her, as a lot of drivers did. They got paid the same regardless, probably getting overtime now. Alice thought they would earn their money today, as the crowds of people stuck at the station were not looking happy.
Alice looked around. Last time this had happened... Yes! On the other side of the station, opposite the buses and crowds, a line of taxis had started to form. Yes, the buses would get you there, and you didn’t have to buy a new ticket. But they were slow! A taxi now... She thought carefully. ‘If I say that I was going to a work function, and keep the receipt... It’s worth a shot.’ Decision made, she walked back up he stairs (good for the calves) and across to the taxis. It looked like she wasn’t the first person to have this idea, but it was nowhere near as crowded as the other side. And she wouldn’t have to sit next to anyone, either. She got in the next taxi, not caring which brand it was. They were all the same anyway.
“Heading to a station miss?” The driver seemed to be fairly polite, which was always nice. He also didn’t have the radio blaring like some did.
“Yes, Morayfield station please.” Alice had been brought up to be polite to everyone, not only those polite to her. “Wait, no... Can you take me directly to the Sports Club? I can pick up my car after.”
“Sure thing miss. There’ll be some traffic, but I’ll get you there quick as can be.”
“Thanks,” Alice replied, already lost in the world of work. She kept going over a knotty problem with staffing in her head. Maybe this trip, in the quiet, would help her find an answer. As much as she wanted to fire them all, that wasn’t up to her. Yet.
Humming softly to himself, the taxi driver pressed a few buttons on his console then put the car into gear.

Tony was still waiting, and starting to get irritated at the looks he got from the wait staff. It wasn’t his fault that he hadn’t ordered anything yet! He kept scrolling through the news. Train delays, nothing new there. “Well, bugger,” he said softly but with feeling. Train delays. He felt a bit petty now, but too late to remove the post. He hoped it would quickly get lost, he hadn’t tagged anyone after all. Even if Alice deserved it, she could at least respond to his text! Tony checked again, just in case. Nope. A brief conversation at lunch time about stupid people (on this Alice and Tony agreed, it was most of the world). Nothing since then. After thinking for a moment, he tapped out “Sitting at the table, waiting for you. Haven’t ordered anything yet. Love you.” There. That wasn’t nasty at all. With a sigh, Tony flagged down a waiter and asked for a beer, full strength. “Yes of course a schooner,” he said, but waited until the waiter left before finishing with “stupid idiot.”

Alice looked out the window with some confusion. Last she knew, they were going up that monstrosity known as Gympie Road, bumper to bumper traffic. Now it seemed as if they were going fairly quickly, trees going past before she could really get a good look.
The driver noticed her confusion, or guessed. “We’re taking a few back roads miss, to avoid the traffic. It’ll be cheaper for you that sitting in traffic, even though it’s a bit further to go.”
“Oh, okay. How much longer will it take?” Alice wasn’t really paying attention, her thoughts still in the land of human resources and personnel management.
“Not too much longer miss, not too long now.”

Alice thought she had finally thought of a solution, which would leave everyone equally unhappy (in HR terms a success). Suddenly she realised that the taxi was slowing. She looked up through the windscreen, and saw a man waving a red torch at them.
"What’s going on?”
“Looks like another RBT, they think they’re clever by staking out the back roads. Won’t be long miss, I don’t drink on work days.”
Alice sighed. Just what she needed, another delay. She tried her phone again, just in case, but only got the flashing lightning symbol.

She was surprised when the passenger door opened. The policeman stuck his head in and said “Excuse me ma’am, I’m just doing a vehicle inspection, would you mind stepping outside for a moment? I’ve instructed your driver to stop the clock until we're done, it won’t take long.”
“Yeah, whatever.” Alice was frustrated, but what could you do? Police did what police did, stay polite and stay out of trouble. She walked over to the unmarked car. ‘Don’t these usually have all sorts of radios?’ she thought to herself. Turning around to go back to the taxi, she was surprised to see her driver was walking towards her. “Is everything okay?” she asked in a frustrated tone.
“Yes miss, everything’s good now miss,” he said as he approached.
“Ow, what the fuck was that?” Alice almost shouted at the sharp pain she felt in the back of her shoulder.
“What was what miss?”
“Something... I don’t know.”
“Maybe it was a horsefly miss? Come on, let’s get you to the club.”
“Yes... Yes I think... “ Alice trailed off. What was she thinking? “You're right, probably a horsefly or something stupid like that. We’d better get going, I’m already running late.” Getting back in the taxi, Alice wondered briefly where the police officer had gotten to before she drifted into a daydream where she was hunting down staff with a big axe.

Humming to himself, the driver punched a few more buttons. “Why do birds, suddenly appear... “ he sang off key. A few hundred metres behind, the other car followed.

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