I froze with fear as the Death God, in her white hooded robe, slid across the floor towards me. She exhaled over my face; I felt myself floating in the air, looking down at my dying body which greying gradually from my feet to my upper torso.
Abruptly I woke up from the nightmarish dream. The blanket had slipped away from me. The air was chilly and the wind was howling. It was still three hours away to my usual morning but I couldn’t go back to sleep.
I’d been worried about things that had developed at my workplace… worried that my career was to end due to some evil, twisted events orchestrated by management.
I noticed that I regularly saw “Her” in the bathroom, and every time she was washing her hands. Every time, after I used the toilet, and after I’d washed and dried my hands, she still hadn’t finished washing hers. The tap would be flowing at high volume into her basin. I glanced at her and realised that in fact she wasn’t washing her hands at all, but just let the water ran over them while she was looking dully at herself in the mirror. I must have startled her in the middle of her daydreaming then as she regained her alertness and pretended to wash her face. Soon, she proceeded to the toilet cubicle.
I told the branch clerk about the girl and asked if she could send out an email reminding staff to save water. I made a throwaway remark: “I think she must have obsessive compulsive disorder!”.
I was so horrified when later a workplace health and safety representative came to see me. She said she took what I commented about the girl seriously and she was to inform the girl’s supervisor.
I didn’t expect things to turn out gravely.
I was scared to death secretly that I would be accused of making vexatious, defamatory statement about the girl, either by her or by her supervisor. My fear was that management would use this occasion to discipline and later get rid of me.
Two years ago, I was unfairly targeted as a redundant staff during a job cut period. With the union’s interference, my employment was retained. Yet I was constantly reminded by my supervisor to never “rock the boat” and “stir the hornet’s nest”.
In the many years working for the company, I’d experienced many shocking moments. My sense of right and wrong had been warped. What’s right and wrong is always measured as what’ll benefit or damage management in their jobs.
When I reported on my supervisor who told me to make a fraud claim to the section head, my action wasn’t commended but played down and I was later bullied by my supervisor.
When I complained to my previous section head that the work in the new section that he’d moved me to made me feel burnt out, I was visited by the branch senior officer with his concern for my psychiatric problem!
A group of female staff in the section were free to hire a stripper for surprised office birthday party and run the best male bum competition but I was on the verge of being written up for harassment because I asked why that group walked out of my birthday morning tea.
My secret fear didn’t eventuate. Regardless, I promised myself that I won’t get involved in anything that’ll be the cause for management to harm me.
In my view as a refugee, I have seen that Australia is a much better and fairer country to live in than that of communist Vietnam. However, I am disappointed that the workplace that I was in, which is a very large and popular company, harboured injustice and harassment.
Managers know that their strength come from
The staff senior and staff majority.
So they support, protect and condone the bad,
No matter how wrong the bad could be.
Managers know tricks of the trade,
They’ll never be ready to take the blame,
But they’ll just smartly twist the truth,
And their poor staff will be the shame.
by Alice Popkorn.