Fifth Column – To Serve Them All Our 24/7 – Issue 8

Imagine if you can – and I know how difficult it would be to picture it – that you are in service. You know, think of how you would be serving those that are considered superior in character and social status. Forget the Victorian or Edwardian attire and imagine you were dressed-down and it was a special noblesse- oblige Friday at work. Now imagine how you might feel deep in the very depths of your twenty-first century soul if this happened:
You’ve had an onerous day, beginning as it did in the dark, and it will finish in the dark as you are working what might have been overtime had it not been for the flexible working extant in your type of work. You are dreaming of bed, even though you are actually in bed at the time, as you are so addled that you’re not quite sure of your whereabouts. Dreams of the past flood in and nightmares of the present rain down on the flood, when, all of a sudden, the door downstairs goes. There’s no avoiding it, you are the one in possession of the key, snuggled under your pillow like a mobile phone, just so work can never be far from your thoughts and grasp. So, you trudge downstairs, open up and are confronted by your master. You notice that well-worn crinkling of the nose and curling of the thin lips that signals a projectile welcome for your efforts. You stand aside and just avoid the stream of bile pinging the brass umbrella stand in the corner. I say, just avoid it but you cannot avoid the responsibility for cleaning it up when all is calm and all is bright in the later earlier hours of this morning.
Your master lurches as he is sent off an already fragile balance by his outpouring, and you instinctively by now, reach out to prop him up. He has been on the razz again as he does most nights that began sometime just after a four-course breakfast caringly prepared in the wee-small hours by you and your kind.
Throughout the next day you will hear stories of his opulent exploits in frivolity and injudicious gambling. Then when he is capable of uttering anything other than obscurantist piffle, he focuses on you as though you are now in his sights. He fires the first salvo: “Give us some money, we need to do this again tomorrow. It makes the world go round, don’t you know.”
Then when you manage to murmur, “Sorry, I won’t have any until I next get paid by you and your parents,” he stares at you as though you’ve taken leave of your senses.
His mind cannot grasp that your outgoings come up just short of your incomings and that the goings on of tonight are in part your outgoings. He then turns on you in a tone reserved for the poultry: “What do you mean, you don’t have anything. How do you expect me to better your life if I cannot be what I am. Besides, I can’t be held responsible for your fecklessness and profligacy in not delaying your bill paying until the red one comes in. If you take no interest in such things how can you expect them to take anything but interest out of you.”
Being a kind of author of this question, I’m telling you my ending: Small as the servant was, he reached out his clenched fist and introduced it to the place where a chin should have been. Nevertheless some contact was made as the master made a number of backward revolutions before finishing in the ornate fish-for-jobs pond .
That night, the servant spent a really uneasy night mentally preparing his CV.

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