A Letter from the Manager

During the next ten days I received a battery of extremely persistent letters, leaflets and telephone calls from Mr. G—– and his cronies, but on the eleventh day they suddenly dried up. I was soon to discover why.
A letter arrived from the Trust.

Dear Steven,
We have now completed our investigation of the circumstances leading up to your current period of sick leave.
All relevant Trust policies and procedures have been consistently applied on the unit and we feel confident that the working environment has been enhanced by ‘Investors in Workers’ initiatives and ‘Improving Peoples’ Lives’ protocols over the last 5 years. A detailed risk assessment undertaken by the Trust Audit Department has shown that activities on the unit average only 6.5 on the ‘Watch yourself’ scale, and we have therefore concluded that the working environment has only an incidental connection with your current problems. I should also mention that 87% of Trust employees who recently returned their questionnaires agreed that working conditions in the Trust were “fabulous”.
We note that you have decided not to pursue a compensation claim, and take this as an acknowledgement of our blameless position. We are of course quite happy to approve an extended period of sick leave, in the hope that you may one day return to your work fully fit. The Occupational Health Department have things well in hand, and your next appointment will be notified sometime in 2009 or 2010.
May I take the opportunity to enclose a complementary ashtray with the Trust’s new ‘4 Star Care’ crest, and a copy of the Human Resources publications ‘Becoming a Long Term Patient’ and ‘Self-Therapy’.
I should mention, however, that we have recently received information which suggests that you may have more to add to your statement about the unfortunate incident involving resident Cecilia S—- last month. We would like to interview you about the matter as soon as possible, but recognise that this may have to wait until you are more fully recovered. We will be in liaison with your consultant Dr. P—–.
Best Wishes
R. S—–
Unit Manager

My eyebrows had long since merged with my hairline, but I sat back in my smelly leatherette chair and laughed grimly at my own astonishment. The gritty cogs of the machine were obviously closing doors against me, and I knew that before long I would be surrounded in pearl, like any other irritant in the oyster’s mouth. The organisation was a vast homeostatic mechanism which neutralised every challenge and equalised every disturbance, perpetuating and reproducing its myths and stupidities like an unstoppable juggernaut.
But the last paragraph sent a chill up my back, as I tried to revisit my last evening on the unit, and make sense of the dislocated images, mist-filled gaps and painful intuitions which might somehow explain this forthcoming ‘interview’. What did it mean?

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