The slow implosion of Alice

Alice sits on the settee and surveys the disarray around her, the broken phone beeping softly, its pieces scattered across the living room floor.

Numbness has consumed her body since the primal scream that accompanied the jettison of the phone against the brick wall. The cocky young upstart on the other end of the phone had told her they would be charging her £35 to cancel her car insurance, and the withdrawal from her bank account would be immediate. She doesn’t have £35 in her account. She had tried to reason with him, asking him if the charge could be postponed until her normal debit day after payday – but he said “the computer’s already registered it now, and it’s automatic. Nothing I can do.” Alice felt the smugness in his voice as he probably leaned back and crossed his feet on the desk while he gave her the bad news, and she imagined herself reaching through the phone and ripping his face off. Instead, she hung up.

Now she has to find money to buy a new phone too…

Earlier that day, Alice had taken her “new” car to We Buy Any Car. It was a nice car; she’d only bought it six weeks ago, and she wished she didn’t have to get rid.  But despite it being in very good condition for its age, even receiving the approval of her very picky pubescent son and his friends, it killed her on petrol mileage. She’d worked out that it was costing her £1 every three and a half miles, and it was bleeding her dry. Easier to get a bus pass and a railcard. She’d tried to sell the car on E-Bay, but nobody bid at the price she’d requested. Her £1000 overdraft limit was being severely tested, as her account currently stood at precisely £999.60 in the red. So she had no choice.  A massive downpour as she drove to the buyer gave her some hope that the salesman might not want to go outside and look too closely at the vehicle – but even with the rain he managed to drop the offer to well below what she was hoping for. Even with a refund on the tax disc, she would still take a substantial loss on her original purchase. But desperate times … The money will be in her account in about a week.

Alice tried to catch the bus home. To her embarrassment, she realised she had brought last week’s bus pass with her, and with no cash on her, she was forced to walk two miles to the nearest bank. There, she felt further humiliation when she had to convince the banker to extend her overdraft by a massive £10 (!) in order to have enough chump change to pay for another bus to take her the other six miles home.

Alice believes in destiny. She truly does. In her view, everything happens for a reason. She is just part of a bigger plan, and so far, the puppeteer has never let her go completely under. But sitting on the bus, she reflected on her current state and felt fat, hideous, useless, broke, exhausted, alone, and completely lost. Her life was on a knife edge, and she felt like just letting go.

The boss is visiting her tomorrow with the HR manager. She’s been off work now for nearly five months, and yet again, her mood has plummetted. Is it a turn in her mood cycles or just an adverse reaction to the growing stresses that engulf her? It’s not just the money, there are other issues too … issues that, even in isolation, could easily bring a person to their knees.

But Alice knows if she is to ever come back from this, she’s going to have to return to her job soon. The thought petrifies her. It’s not easy work and involves high levels of stress at the best of times. She suspects the job was probably a major contributary factor to her breakdown in the first place, and the idea of returning to the same gladiatorial arena frightens her. The union rep is unavailable to attend the meeting, and Alice is feeling increasingly anxious at the prospect of dealing with this alone.

But that’s how it’s always been. Everything Alice has ever done in her life, she has done alone: travelled the world; obtained degrees; embarked on exciting adventures; gave birth to and raised a child; made many, many mistakes; and survived.

And here she sits once again … alone… surveying the damage.

No money. No phone. No escape.

But strangely, no tears.

© Alice through the Macro Lens [2012]

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Categories: Alice's world, Just me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “The slow implosion of Alice

  1. Oh Alice how I wish this was just a chapter in a book but alas I know it is not.. Is there anyone else who can be with you when your manager and HR person visit? Or could you delay them until the union man is there ? as you know you are entitled to have someone with you..
    I hope your manager is the kind of person who will try to be helpful and supportive..

  2. and you will survive this, as well, but oh my, tough times for sure. Since you’re entitled to union representation, can you not insist the boss and HR person wait till someone is available. This just seems to tough to handle without representation. I’m sending strong energies your way, I wish I could do more.

  3. Alice, Alice. What an awful situation. (And I hate insurance companies. Especially after working for an insurance adjuster years and years ago and hearing how they talked about the claims.)

    Be as strong as you can manage. Your son needs you. You need you. Try to get some more exercise – maybe you can at least wear yourself out enough to get a night’s sleep.

    And listen to Helen Cherry and Joss – insist on having someone at this meeting whose job is to side with you.

    Praying for you, and hoping you find your way through this situation as you have with other hard times in the past.

  4. A song comes to mind and I feel it might be of a little uplift for you. I know the feeling well..

  5. Oh, Alice, I’m so sorry to hear what a mess things seem to be. If you’ve made it this far, you can make it further – be strong and do what you need to do to get by. Sending lots of kind thoughts your way.

  6. Alice, my two favorite sayings are “When it rains, it pours” and “This too shall pass.” Be strong. Sending good thoughts your way.

  7. I sit here reading this and I am broken inside. I want to reach beyond the distance and pull you out of where you are. I don’t know where you live. I just know when things have seemed the most hopeless to me, when I thought I could not fall any further, when I had taken all I thought I could take … it was in that darkness I found strength that only comes from God. My prayers are with you and maybe that seems so small and insignificant, please know it is the most powerful thing I can do …

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