Today my employer called to inform me that I wouldn’t be needed at work for the coming months. Apparently due to the Coronavirus pandemic it was possible for me to stay at home and for the UK government to pay my salary.
Whilst I expected to be possibly made redundant sometime in the future, I didn’t expect that the government would offer any financial support to workers such as myself. I’d been led to believe that the Conservative party was ideologically opposed to this type of assistance, believing it to be a slippery slope toward further state intervention.
I feel safe in telling you that I found my job manifestly miserable almost entirely. I’d managed to cultivate a thin vale of pleasantness at work, mainly so as to save my colleagues from being subjected to my frequent bouts of nihilistic bleakness.
I’ve survived the last few years by consistently feigning busyness, combined with hours of essentially hiding from my colleagues. Luckily the labyrinthine layout of my workplace has secured the success of this strategy. There are a number of remote desks where I can work on my personal endeavours in peace.
I always make sure that I compete a small number of tasks and present them with great fanfare so as to demonstrate my competency amongst my colleagues. I pride myself on managing to avoid taking on any extra duties despite my reputation as a diligent worker.
I’ve been wondering if my recent furloughing represents an end to my finely constructed existence at work.
I live in a small bedsit flat with no outdoor space. Although, since February of this year I’ve had access to an allotment not far from my flat. As far as I can tell I’m permitted to tend to the allotment during lockdown. I spent an hour reading the guidelines on gov.co.uk but couldn’t really come up with a definitive answer.
I began to substitute wage labour for rigorous toil in the service of weed removal. I hoped it might be possible to cultivate a reliable food source from the allotment and also banish thoughts of my latent employment to the far reaches of my mind.
My ultimate aim was to avoid returning work at all. To make this happen, I would need a source of food.
I am however an inexperienced gardener.
After a few weeks I started to get regular phone calls from my employer. I tried to answer these calls as infrequently as possible. Although I did deduce that not all the company’s employees were furloughed. In fact, it seemed as though my job was being completed by one of my colleagues.
Throughout my incessant weeding I frequently unearthed buried objects. I began to arrange these around the allotment. I wondered if these objects might have been used as an alternative fertilizer by a previous resident.
One day a friend telephoned and remarked that my being furloughed was a “wonderful opportunity to finally get on and finish that big photographic art project you’ve been working on”.
Whilst I didn’t necessarily disagree with this sentiment, I found myself increasingly unable to think creatively about almost anything. Indeed, the only activity that could with any reliability distract from the bleakness of my flat was weeding at the allotment.
I unearthed increasing quantities of mainly photographic ephemera from the ground of the allotment. I arranged these items haphazardly around the allotment and subsequently my flat.
I saw hardly any relationship between these found objects.
On the 1st of September my employed called and informed me that I would be made redundant in one month’s time. I was told that “the market was looking increasingly dire for our industry”.
I decided to collate my buried haul around my newly planted raised beds. I thought perhaps that these items could act as devotional objects for my newly planted seeds.
I used the remaining days of my furlough to catalogue these objects together with the progress of the growing seeds. Luckily a few days previously I had unearthed a fairly modern camera in a particularly brambled corner of the allotment.
My employer called again towards the end of October. I was offered a few days freelance work essentially performing the tasks from my old job.
I was advised that the tasks required of me could be done “working from home”. This sounded agreeable to me, so I set up a workstation in another corner of the allotment.
Since these freelance hours would not be sufficient to pay my rent, I gave notice on my flat.
I began construction of a shed on the allotment that I thought would provide ample shelter. It would have the added benefit of a small window, allowing me to observe the progress of my seeds more consistently in the future.
I’ve felt a certain relief at seeing the first seedlings poking through the soil. It’s taken my mind off a growing sense of guiltiness on my part.
Although I know that my guilt is somewhat manufactured by my sadistic interest in the right-wing print media. I can’t help but wonder if people are judging me when I exchange fleeting eye contact with passing drivers on my daily walk to the allotment.