Thursday, October 21, 2021

Microstory 1739: Jana Crane

For the most part, Jana Crane tried to keep to herself. She kept her head down, did her job, and didn’t complain when the people she worked with treated her like crap. She tried to be as accommodating as possible, without being a pushover who no one respected. She was a factory inspector, who would go around her region, making sure that the businesses she was assigned to were maintaining health and safety standards. She was thorough and careful, and didn’t let anything slide. Forgetting to fill out your monthly logs completely is one thing, but not properly securing a piece of incredibly dangerous equipment was just something that could not be tolerated. Her reports were not meant to get anyone in trouble, but she saw them as a way for the companies to improve themselves, and prevent anything from going terribly wrong. It would be bad for the floor workers if one of them became injured, and bad for the employers if that injured worker sued the company, or otherwise cost them money. Everyone should love inspectors for preventing such tragedies. At least that was how Jana saw it, but no one else shared her sentiments, even people whose lives she was trying to preserve. Perhaps if she wore a cape, and a symbol of some kind on her chest, they would think differently of her. One person in particular could have done with a little more perspective. He was a floor supervisor who probably should have never been promoted, but far be it for Jana to judge the process. What she could judge, however, was how casual he was with the safety protocols. He didn’t worry about locking down the machines. He let his people go in there without safety goggles. He didn’t care about anything. If she didn’t know any better, she might think he was asking for a bad outcome. Sadly, she was the one who ended up in a bad situation. She gave him low marks too many times, and he had had enough. She was going to stop inspecting his work, whether she wanted to or not.

The last thing she saw before the darkness was his face. He wasn’t wearing a mask, or anything. He probably thought she wouldn’t recognize him, and since she wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a lineup later, he would get away with it. Or maybe he was just a moron who didn’t think things through carefully. That was the most likely reason he not only showed his face, but spoke to her after throwing the acid in her eyes, and made references to their previous encounters with each other. She screamed, but couldn’t cry, on account of the acid. She just tried her best to wipe the chemicals off of her face. She pulled her shirt off, and wiped some more. It got the excess off, but it didn’t stop the pain, and it wouldn’t give her her sight back. He didn’t laugh. He was angry; talking about how this was her fault, and if she had just ignored the infractions, this wouldn’t have had to happen. All this, like it was completely unavoidable. An unlocked chemical cabinet was unsafe, but he didn’t appear to recognize the irony. She could hear his footsteps grow fainter, so she started to reach out around her. Feeling around was taking too long, so Jana had to be bolder. By the end of this, she was going to have a lot of bruises, but she would live. Every second she waited would make it that much harder for the doctors to fix her eyes. She began to run. She didn’t run into anything, so she went faster and faster through the factory, all the way out into the cold, and over to a warehouse down the street, which she knew operated 24/7. Her vision was never quite the same after that, but she didn’t go blind, and the floor supervisor didn’t go free.

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