Cutting metal with the angle-grinder, something that doesn’t need to be cut.
Forty-three year old man found in toilet cubicle, refuses to come out, says he’s anxious and he doesn’t want to ‘go back out there’.
I was the first responder. I spoke to him under the door.
Charles (that was his name)
Charles, this is Amy from HR, could you tell me if you’re okay?
I shouldn’t really be in the men’s toilets and certain not on the floor. Memo to self, talk to Heather the cleaning lady.
I can hear a whimper in response, he’s being crying but he still tells me he’s fine. He’s just taking a time out before he proceeds with the rest of his life.
Good response, but not good enough, there are rules around this sort of thing. I tell him this and even give him the index number so he can look it up on the employee intranet site. I even offer to send him a link? Its then he no longer talks, he goes silent on me. I tell him I’m concerned and that I will have to phone the fire brigade if he doesn’t keep talking to me. He keeps talking to me. He says he’s scared. Scared of the future. I tell him he has nothing to be scared off, that his job is secure (well, kind of..After this episode, there are ways and means..). He says that why he’s scared, he doesn’t want to go on like this, that the best years are behind him and he doesn’t know where to go from here. I don’t want to go there with him. To tell the truth I’ve been asking the same questions myself, but Darren from infrastructure is beside me and I’m not going to say that out loud. I just tell him that I understand, glib I know but I do what I can.
I go to Charles’ funeral on my own, I don’t want Tom there, he stays at home and minds Sam. It’s a big big funeral, everyone from work. A couple of people shake my hand, which is embarrassing since we weren’t related or anything. It’s a year since he locked himself in the toilet. He came out eventually and was given stress leave for two weeks. He looked fine, good even when he came back. I invited him to lunch one day, he refused, said he was busy. I knew he wasn’t but I wasn’t going to press and to be honest I was kind of relieved that he didn’t. I had done my bit. But now, standing here, today, just opening the door of my car, raining after the funeral. I’m tired and wet and I remember then something he said when he was in that toilet cubicle.
‘I’m safe here’
Maybe we should have just left him there. He might still be there now, we would turn a blind eye to his presence, the guys would use the other cubicles, we could have left the heat on at night and I could have passed under the door a couple of slices of pie from the canteen to keep him going in his self-induced solitary confinement. At least he would be still alive. I drive home slowly to Tom and Sam. My front headlight is gone and the rain is oh so heavy. Heavier than I have ever seen.