The whole area was void of human souls. The crane operators worked on the other side of the fence, in a cheap construction-side building.
Arvo had the door handle in his hand and tried to work up the courage to enter. He had just reminded himself to “stand up straight and talk clearly during the introduction”, when he saw the door handle moving, the door flying open and a loud voice shouting: “Fuck this job and fuck you all!” The door smashed into Arvo’s head. He tumbled a step back and grabbed the shirt of the huge guy who appeared in the doorway in a desperate attempt to regain balance. He failed and fell backwards down the short stair, dragging the guy with him. Arvo’s mind went blank when his head banged hard on the asphalt. A huge mass of muscles, bones and fat slammed right into him. He smelled old sweat, then blood. When his brain rebooted, he stared right into the eyes of his new friend, mere centimeters from his face. Arvo pressed the rehearsed words through his lips: “Hi. I’m Arvo. I look forward to working with you.”
He ended up with a heavy concussion and a few broken ribs. The pain would eventually fade away, but the jokes of his new colleagues never stopped. He remembered the shame burning, as it can only do when you are 18 and socially awkward. Reliving that memory brought his… …his FEELINGS way too close to the surface, so his subconsciousness intervened and made him remember facts instead:
One night in hospital cost 700 Euro, without treatment. But even back then, healthcare in the European Union was mandatory, universal, and free of charge.
So, yes: He could afford to worry about his hurt feelings. Done? Good.
His knife hand rushed forward when the knob in the wood finally gave way. But then it instantly picked up its rhythm again, so that Arvo’s mind could return to his memories.
Shortly after his debut as a crane operator, management understood that there was no actual reason to operate remote controlled cranes from a fixed workplace next to the harbor.