The Factory Girls – Episode 17

Carol trudged towards the factory on Wednesday morning. Yesterday had been utterly miserable. The girls had worked well, possibly even better than usual, in fact, but there had been something horribly mechanical about it.“Efficient,” she muttered bitterly to herself. “Mr Wing would love it!”She sighed. She did understand, really. She’d been a factory manager for 16 years and if anyone knew the importance of efficiencies it was her. She wasn’t some airhead who thought they were all here sewing knickers for the sheer joy of it, yet surely there had to be more to life, even to business, than simply making money?It was like her husband, Eddie, had used to shout at the telly every time some football team announced the news they were sacking their manager after a mere six months. “Where’s the sense in that? How are any of them to grow a decent team like this? There is no quick fix with people, love, even with those commanding ridiculous wages. You have to play the long game.” This, surely, was the same? Oh, she missed him. She thought she’d finally got over the sharpness of his death, wearing it down to something that was just about bearable, but these last two days it was as if his absence was stabbing her again and again. She longed to creep into his great big arms for comfort. She longed to feel his welcoming warmth in her lonely bed, and longed, above all, to hear his deep, gentle voice. “It’ll be all right, love,” he’d have said, and from him she would have believed it. She reached the door and fumbled for the great big key, remembering how proudly she’d slotted it into the lock just two days ago. She had always loved Cardill’s nooks and crannies, but the three Xion men had now made them seem silly. It felt as if they’d sullied not just her factory’s future but also its past. She couldn’t forgive them for that.“Morning, Carol.”She jumped.“Oh, good morning, Helen. Come on in.”“Thanks. Did you sleep OK?”“Not bad.” She wasn’t going to admit that she’d been tossing and turning half the night.“I wish I had! Ready for the open meeting?”“Yep.” That was rubbish, too; Carol had no idea what she was going to say. Helen looked at her, head on one side.“It seems so unfair to close Cardill’s, doesn’t it? It’s not as if we’re a load of slackers. Even that wretched Mr Fanshaw said our productivity was a miracle.”Carol sighed.“The problem is, Helen, they don’t want miracles. They want statistics reliable, mechanical statistics.”“Really?” Helen jutted out her chin. “Well, they’ve come up against the wrong people, then, because at Cardill’s we’re more than that.”Carol looked at her normally mild supervisor in surprise and not a little awe.“You’re dead right, Helen,” she said. “Thank you.”“What for?”“For reminding me this isn’t over yet. I’ve been wasting far too much time moping rather than acting. Now, what time’s that meeting? I’ve got a speech to prepare!”


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