There are two work-shy carpenters on site, with us from an agency. I only know one of their names so I’ll call them Josh and Bosh. They spend most of their time chatting shit with each other. They know exactly what they’re doing work-wise though, so when they do work they swarm through the room like termites and leave everything arranged beautifully in piles of like. If only they worked.

When I wasn’t on site yesterday, Josh grabbed my respirator and wrote his name on it. That’s why I know his name. It’s written on my respirator.

There are a couple of respirators that were bought for the site that people were encouraged to take. I got myself a good one a few days before that for the job and left it there, you see. I knew they’d become necessary and I thought of it as an investment. Besides I need it in my attic. If I work up there without one I’m coughing for days.

He must have found it and thought he had a nice freebie. It wasn’t easy to get back. Possession is nine tenths of the law. Josh was willing to be nice about it but Bosh wasn’t having it. “That’s his respirator, mate. It was given out to him yesterday.” “Yes but I wasn’t here. Whoever gave them out didn’t realise it was mine.” “A respirator’s just a respirator right?” “Well… No…”

I had to check the brand of all the other ones, and point out to them that it was different. Even that didn’t sway them. Eventually I came back to them with a photo of it. They then gave it back in the most aggressive manner possible and told me to “jog on”. I successfully bit back the words “Go fuck yourself,” and then broke the hell out of some things for money for an hour or so in masked silence and rage before I calmed down enough to go on a coffee break.

Then one of the filters from the mask vanished when I was on lunch and found it in a totally different part of the building…

I’m not going to get swept up in this bullshit but I hope they don’t start hiding my power tools just because I held my ground about a respirator.

If they try anything else I’m creative and persistent enough to improvise an unexpected and unpleasant response. I’m not going to drop to their level if I can help it.

It’s not even Josh. It’s his mate Bosh. Josh is the goblin. Bosh is the orc.

He’s a funny lad, Bosh. I kind of like him – more’s the pity and he’ll never know it now. Bosh is the most popular twelve year old in the playground. Poor nervous Josh walks around with his shoulders around his ears apologising for his existence, while big Bosh has enough front for both of them. Anyway, I barely know them outside of observation. I’m too busy actually working, which is what I’ve noticed they aren’t doing so much.

I could probably wear my respirator on the tube and not look out of place right now. We are looking to be in closer alliance with America after “getting it done” in Europe which means the media needs to try to get us all to hate China ASAP which is a bit of a stretch compared to what we’re used to. What better crowbar to start the China-hate than by trumpeting Corona virus as a bigger threat to our existence than the sale of the NHS? As a result lots of well meaning people have started to wear breath masks in rush hour – to protect themselves rather than other people, as the Chinese tourists have been doing on our tube system for years. Next it’ll be long form articles about animal cruelty to catch the liberals and about weapons capacity to catch the tories.

Some of the masks on the tube look to be very high quality. They are mostly worn by well dressed people over 40 so far, but that’ll filter down. I thought about wearing mine on the tube. It looks like a gas mask. I decided that would only make matters worse.

Here’s Tristan, aspiring to the Main Office. Like so many people that aspire to such things, the door just leads to another door. And another after that. Until eventually there’s a brick wall.


Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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