The welfare system was sagging under the weight of everyone in need. When the virus hit, many lost their jobs, their livelihood and sought assistance from the government.
Carol sighed from her desk inside the Centrelink office as she saw the queue of people snaking from the as-yet unlocked doors, along the footpath and down the street. Another day of uncertainty in dealing with people. Many times, their fear and anxiety swelled to bursting point, exploded in anger. Sometimes even violence. The sound of adults crying echoed through the open plan space; tears became embedded into the walls, making the office feel damp.
‘Morning Carol, ready for another day of the crazies?’ Bill asked.
Bill was a dick. The kind of government employee that gave government employees a bad name. Carol kind of hoped that one day, someone would punch him square on the nose, after hearing his patronising tone, and seeing his superior stance.
‘Morning Bill,’ Carol said.
‘Time to open up,’ said Harim. ‘Ready everyone? Brace yourself for anything. Prepare to be kind. These people are scared and hurting.’ Harim shot a glance Carol’s way. Just a quick dart, but along with his words, it was a clear message to Carol: they both felt the same way about Bill.
Unfortunately, Bill was the floor manager.
Harim opened the doors. ‘Good morning,’ he said to those in the front of the queue. ‘Carol will see you first, then direct you to the appropriate team member.’ He smiled kindly. ‘I’m sorry, there will be a bit of a wait this morning, so please be patient and kind. And we return that to you.’
Carol stood, armed and ready with her iPad, as the first person walked towards her.