Flash Fiction: Modern Workforce

This is not part of my daily challenge, I just had an idea in mind, and couldn’t help going for it. Today’s challenge was done by 1am, because I’m daft like that, but I also knew I’d be tired when I got home after taking my niece to the Royal Armouries. So this is an extra. Besides, technically it’s not really one story, it’s a collection of linked micro stories. I won’t pretend to be an expert on the rules of what is classed as what, I enjoyed writing it is all, and I hope you enjoy reading it.

Modern Workforce, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 12th December 2012

Word count: 900

Theme: social commentary, modern world, observation

The story:

Alex Cottingley raced across town. He was running out of time, his interview was at ten, and it was quarter to already.

A woman coming out of a Greggs stuffing her mouth with a sausage roll nearly sent him flying, he dodged it and ran on. On a curve in the long street he could see the offices he needed, he should be there bang on time, he hoped.

The woman exiting Greggs was Susan Leon, and she was having a bad day. She’d gone into work as normal at seven thirty only to find out at nine that the company was closing without notice. The owners were no where to be found, there was no payroll, and no deliveries.

She was angry, she’d worked there five years, ever since leaving school. She should go to the job centre, but she needed to take her anger out on something, so she chose a sausage roll, diet be damned. As she walked aimlessly, she stumbled into a man of her own age, they shared a look of mutual desperation, both apologised and they went their own ways.

The man was Carl Smith, and he was desperate because he’d been fired for flirting in the office. It hadn’t been his fault though, he was just responding to the other guy’s flirting. However, there had been a complaint, office administrator versus Sales Team Leader, and the administrator was gone.

He’d only been there a few months, and couldn’t bring proceedings in his defence. He just needed to get another job fast, he had a daughter on the way, and he wasn’t going to be one of those dead beat dad’s, he promised himself, as he opened the door to the job centre, and had to step out of the way of a fuming middle aged woman.

The middle aged woman was Claire Simpson, and she was fuming because they had revoked her benefits. It had been eight years since she had to work, That was when she’d had her crisis. She wasn’t ready to go back, she certainly couldn’t do sales any more  and that was just about her only skill.

She’d gone to the job centre hoping for some kind of help, they offered her training in office administration  and marked her down for childcare as well. She complained, and they threatened to take away her final source of income, the Job Seekers Allowance. Now she marched across the city daring anyone to get in her way as she headed for the bus to the stupid course she had to enrol in. Nearly as soon as the bus stopped she was trying to get on, angrily shoving to one side an elderly gentleman trying to get off this bus, in a hurry

The elderly gentleman in question was Christian Charles, he was sixty-seven, and did not accept he was elderly. Unfortunately his firm considered him so, sales were bleak for everyone, and new management were under the impression that a young dynamic sales team would fare better. Christian couldn’t retire, his pension wouldn’t be enough to pay his mortgage, the one he’d taken out to help his daughter set up a business, which had gone busy last year after eight years of trading.
Instead he hurried through town, annoyed still about the bus service changing stops two years ago.

He had to be in work for half ten ready to start selling “living room concepts”. As he entered the show room he bumped into one of the new managers, but the manager didn’t react to the senior salesman, he just walked on phone in his hand.

The manager, a John Ratcliffe, was actually a consultant brought in by the new owners of the company, and he was about to make a call to the owners. He couldn’t look the salesman in the eye as he was about to advocate closing the dying operation and sub letting the property to a mobile phone company. It made more financial sense. Then he could move on to a more interesting project.

He was so engrossed in his plans that he failed to notice the pushchair in his path, and tripped over the wheel. He swore at the moment, cursed her and her lay about kind for not watching where they were going.

Swearing after him, Keira Bates reached for her phone. The line was busy, but she could guess who to, he’d just left her husbands failing business. With her toddler satisfied the world wasn’t ending she, she strolled up the main street as she dialled her husband’s secretary.

She got through to her husband while he was still on the line with the rude man, reported everything that happened with grim relish as her husband went off the deep end. Someone wasn’t getting a Christmas Bonus this year she thought to herself. A man stepped around the push chair, with a nod of his head an apology on his lips, and then wished her good day as he headed for the “Living Room Concept” sales centre.

Alex Cottingley walked in in good cheer, the interview hadn’t been great, but they thought he sold himself well and with his experience he should try sales. So here he was asking the first person he saw if there were any vacancies. He was met with hostile looks, but a manager invited him in for a chat.


Ever just have an idea in your head, I mean it’s almost a fully laid out plan idea. That’s what this was. Just an idea for a series of connected short scenes on the theme of unemployment. Of course I’ve written this on the day that official government statistics show unemployment has hit a low for recent years. Still, i’m sure it’s a subject that has a lot of meaning for a lot of people.

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