It wasn’t right.
He had filled in all the forms correctly, he had attended all the interviews on time, and his tone had always been calm and measured. And yet, all he received from them in return, was a Second Class letter to inform him that his papers had been lost in their internal mailing system.
Angry, and in desperate need of a quick settlement to his claim, the young man got on the bus and returned to Block A where he demanded an explanation from a blank-faced advisor, who then sent him to Block B where he argued his case in a loud and forceful manner with another blank-faced advisor.
As ever, nobody listened, no reason was given, and nothing changed but his mood.
Sick of it all, the young man walked out of the grey concrete office block, pulled his hood up, and wandered back to the bus stop in the midday rain. Sitting down next to an old man in the dry of the bus shelter, he rolled a smoke from the last of the butts in his tobacco pouch and stared out blankly at the passing shopping bags and cars.
“Man, this is not right,” the young man snapped, breathing smoke out through his nose, “Seriously, this is all fucking wrong.”
The old man sitting next to him smiled.
“Well,” the old man said slowly, “If you whisper, nobody will hear you, and if you shout, then nobody will listen. All in all, it is far better to just mind your self and watch your breath instead.”
An earlier and shorter version of Lost in the System appeared in the now-defunct Short, Fast & Deadly journal.