Words to the Wise

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"The best advice I was ever given was by my mother, when I was a girl," Julie said. "She told me that all I needed for a happy life was contained within the pages of the bible."

"That's nice," I mumbled in reply. I was trying to complete the latest Care/Needs Report for Jeremy Block and I didn't want to be drawn into another one of Julie's discussions. So I kept my eyes fixed on my computer screen and didn't look back at her.

"If you follow the instructions in the bible then God will reward you with a good, happy and successful life," Julie said. "You don't need all these fad diets and exercise plans. If you follow the bible you will lead a healthy life, as simple as that. But. of course, no one wants to hear that."

"So, if you get cancer then it's your fault," I replied, the words jumping out of my mouth before I could think.

"That's God's law, not man's law. God does not follow our petty emotions," Julie said, raising her head high.

"Lovely," I replied, turning back to my computer.

"That's the problem with the world today - not enough people follow the advice in the bible. If people did what the bible says, the world would be a much better place," Julie reeled off.

"Like all the sexism and homophobia in it?" Again, the words leapt out of my mouth before I had chance to censure myself.

"You're one of those 'smart' intellectuals who don't believe in anything," she snapped back at me. "It's people like you that have marched our world into the mess it's in."

"Whatever you say," I mumbled back.

"I'm not staying here to be insulted. This is why us Christians are the last, true persecuted minority in this country," she announced, more to the rest of the office then to me, before she stood up from her desk, adding, "I'm off for my break."

She stormed out of our open-plan office, many people staring after her. Some even muttered, "What's up with her now?" I stared back at my computer. I'd upset her again and I knew I would be getting the blame for it. I didn't need more stress.

<><><><><>

I was sat in the staff room, barely keeping my eyes open, when Trevor and Nelson entered. I'd taken my break late that morning, I'd spent most of it buried under the weight of paperwork, all the reports that I had to write-up at the speed of light. Unfortunately, this just had added onto the tiredness that was already weighing me down. I'd got little sleep the night before and now the fatigue was dragging down at my body.

"That's the thing," Trevor announced, as he entered the room, "you have to put yourself first in this life, because no other bastard will do so."

"That's so right," Nelson agreed.

Since he'd started working in our department, Nelson had almost become Trevor's shadow. Wherever Trevor was, then Nelson was there too, following behind him and agreeing with everything that Trevor said. Trevor considered himself one of the senior members of our team, even though he was on the same grade as me, but suddenly having Nelson as his willing follower had gone to Trevor's head.

"Best advice I was ever given was to look after yourself. You're number one in your life and you've got to look out for yourself," Trevor said.

"You're right there," Nelson replied.

I tipped my head forward, pretending to read the newspaper lying over my lap, and hoped I wouldn't get pulled into Trevor's speech.

"I've always lived by that advice," Trevor said. "It's seen me well. I've looked after myself and it has got me here. I'd still be down there in some crap minimum wage job if I hadn't put myself first."

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