Edgar Morales Caamano is a Support Worker based in Glasgow. Here he shares this written piece.
Job is a round word to pronounce. What are you going to do? Has to be said. It is an honour to work, yet we all know Satan invented working. Hail hail. And so, during working hours, spent in the space and time of companies that offer care and support, I found post-it notes dropped around, under shadows and juice stains. Managers, support workers, cleaners, nurses and service users – targeted also as clients or residents – would write down jingles and more, in the sticky back of color filled scraps. Scrambled thoughts legible to the rambling eye. It is safer to write honestly in these papers, safer than burying it online, speaking it over the phone or texting it. These personal opinions, free for a blink from surveillance markets and team reviews, have been compiled here. They generate revenue, sure, but of which forms?
You only get one bite of the cherry
All benzos may cause dependency. And the subtext of subutex? Was it mommy’s little helper? Is she helping now? Am I still helping the sick?
A book about illness and metaphors by Susan Sontag. “And it is diseases thought to be multi- determined (that is, mysterious) that have the widest possibilities as metaphors for what is felt to be socially or morally wrong”.
TAXI CAB YELLOWS
There is a point in my agenda, middle of some week, from which everything goes blank. Small note says ‘change to twelve and/or twenty four hour shifts’. After that, white, bare sheets of days. No plans. No past or future. Yes to working for the government. Providing a service. Just like bringing water, paving streets or connecting the internet. We provide opium replacement therapies. OU-AR-THEE. Medicine no longer just cures or prevents diseases, it also punishes through side-effects. The Northern Route, starts from the deep pain, climbs towards the neurotransmitters and builds dopamine temporary accommodation.
Belly to Brain & Pores to Soul. Have to focus on my well-being. Feel good! Am I that dependent? Where next boss? Can’t stop myself from crying and throwing liquids at the walls and ceilings. Forgive me.
They make the metal slab colder by opening all the windows. I rock to the sides of my bed and hit myself on the side of my head. The bruise browns with the four seasons of one day. Purple flowers faint their yellow surrounds. I requested a single room due to my nightmares. I never enjoyed violence. I make a deal with the writer (name and address unknown) that I won’t have any suicide attempts over the weekend and will discuss any thoughts of this with staff. When in the residential unit, I will be medicated accordingly. My toddler ingested a small amount of methadone I left laying around – I have poor door control. My appearance is unnecessary. I mock other individual’s eating habits. My blunt emotions drip through my arteries. Historically injured, I have broken all the bones from my knees down. My choking habits prevent me from speaking clearly.
BALLET SLIPPER PINKS
Government line: Reduce opiate overdose deaths. Send emails / Get in touch with care managers.
TAXI CAB YELLOWS
I come to work and expect to get spit on by the residents, not by staff. But that’s the case. Minimum wage, minimum respect. Avant-garde, we are here to take the hate and the anxiety..
…parking is great and you can really listen to all kinds of birds all day long, specially seagulls
Diego Urbina. Astronaut. MARS 500. Trained, in “lock-down”, for 520 days. Simulate conditions for going to Mars. He recommends, as someone with lock-down experience, to exercise and keep the mind busy. Also to remember that we’re a crew, all in it as a team.
Someone suspected they had coronavirus, even though they had not left the building and had no symptoms other than heavy withdrawals. Doctor said it was obvious they didn’t have COVID-19, but because they had said they did, we had to act as if. As if and accordingly.
They said so as if. The power from the language of words creates reality beyond the realms of viruses and vivid things, into the human-only realm of humans. A place of paranoia just to ourselves. Now we are sentencing someone to isolate in their room for two weeks, knowing that they have drugs hidden in their cavities. In the top floor no less. I can smell the tension growing. Putting on my gloves and mask and apron is a three step dull dance, every hour up and down. Will he decide to attack me this time? I’m getting used to the threats – too comfortable.
“Illness as an epic of suffering, as self-transcendence…” S. Sontag
BALLET SLIPPER PINKS
Check background of agency nurse. She worked in that care home with all the deaths Cheaper to hire agency nurses – probably OK
Not testing anybody yet, this service not a priority – can’t get adequate medical supplies Government line: herd immunity – no masks no tests no problem
Found note on piece of paper: “A polluting person is always wrong, as Mary Douglas has observed. The inverse is also true: a person judged to be wrong is regarded as, at least potentially, a source of pollution”.
I am not wrong. I am not a source of pollution. I have survived hells and wars. I believe in my angels because I am not dead. I will continue this work. I can see past the church bells and hill mist.
He used the extension of the vacuum cleaner to get more drugs into the flat. A fully furnished flat – lovely view – bigger than some family homes around the city. Yet it’s clear that there’s no amount of material goods that can make a person happy. Deathwish. You can’t scare an addict. Not even with a global pandemic. I see them all already, in long long lines, queuing for a burger and phones and trainers.
BALLET SLIPPER PINKS
Roof-walkers Cluster suspicion
Wild to the moon! My baby
likes electric legs
Tickle me so I don’t get alone in this room, in this distance. I do not know how to tell you I am sad and left alone. I get picked up every now and then, when the guilt is right. A dog in a kennel. Walk me by the sea side.
TAXI CAB YELLOWS
+ Tmts (passata? bolognesa? gnocchi?)
+ Toilet paper – search all shops!
+ Paracetamol & prufen
+ Pasta or Rice – if any
+ Fruit & veg
+ JP players king size menthol + crisps any
+ 3 easter eggs
+ toffee not in package
“The prognosis is always, in principle, optimistic. Society, by definition, never catches a fatal disease”
We can all hear the clapping every Thursday
Ethics shine on. We are all in the same mission – but we are not, really. It’s not a rhizome where all growths collaborate to a…are we separate stars? some shinning for the delight of the eyes of others, most of the stars just dying from a distance…deaths only visible in the dark, where nobody can or wants to see. Hidden in plain sight, begging for change, drooling over gutters the city centre. Diego The Astronaut used to say that the mission is to survive; looking after the self and the others – exactly what it says on any key worker or carer job description. Caring for our planets from all space. Nice.
7 or 8 weeks of this ? ? ? – they brag about transferable skills in their workforce. Yet they never swapped shifts with people overworked and underpaid. We are all being responsible and super careful so, technically, any of the managers and directors working from home could have come and looked after the project they won the bid to run. But that would have been too much. It is much safer to clap from their windows.
Leon Brown, and seems super-appropriate: “Always do the right thing no matter what others say. It is you, not them, who have to face the consequences”. I tell you all of this, not because I’m looking for sympathy, but to remind you to be kind to yourselves and remember what’s important. Things are still really tough.
TAXI CAB YELLOWS
go nome linc o6
salte aararssan TIWE
big MaC Fridaq
I find their emails so patronising. If we all have broad skill-sets, and they are so worried about us getting a break, why don’t they come here and do some shifts? No, instead they ask us to use our annual leave pronto. Dear colleague. No. Nobody’s dear, and colleague is an equal, there-to-there. Not somewhere else…The inspiration for this week’s email came from my husband…must be honest, today’s message because it’s been one of those weeks. I praise your work, our work…share as they reflect on the organisation, which is all of you. No, this is not organised nor an organism. This is not a space ship. St. Francis of Assisi said “all the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle” (you all can be candles, whilst we get to play saints). Just as someone has to be the sugar at the bottom of the tea cup, rotting away mouth & breath, someone has to be the candle and candle wick, burned out, so others can be saviours worth of praise. I know a go a bit about how wonderful you a are. The pandemic has meant that we have not been able to have our usual celebration of staff brilliance. I had some time off last week, and didn’t realise how exhausted I was until I stopped (sending you supportive emails). I am always amazed and humbled by all the work you do, because somebody has to do it. “Life is like a rollercoaster. You can either scream every time there is a bump or you can throw your hands up and enjoy the ride”. I’m definitely screaming at the moment……Thank you. Keep safe and well. Yours in sickness and in health, The Board of Executive Directors.
“Even if the disease is not thought to be a judgement on the community, it becomes one – retroactively – as it sets in motion an inexorable collapse of morals and manners.” S. Sontag
also “Corrupts language itself…how badly citizens behaved.”
BALLET SLIPPER PINKS
Some take an empty bus back, knocking to the sides, holding their breath at every new passenger. Or bike back beautiful open streets. An empty.
TAXI CAB YELLOWS
Was it coffee, or sugar or cigarettes or sweeties? Was it the long nights awaken, with the moan of butterfly wings? Maybe the meds count (miss-count)? I got the key, I drank the disgusting taste. We’re all under something. Some candies the government heavily regulates. Some it doesn’t. There is good millions to be made from keeping certain things illegal – so why ruin a good thing? Like a shrine with sacred watchful eyes, The Misuse Of Drugs Act 1971, framed on every floor. Keep the good stuff to run the government and the dazzling markets, send the cut-down kilos to the hungry masses. It’ll probably be the same with the vaccines. It all ends in a cement mixer anyway. Bags of hundreds pushed through the mail box or packed in a mass grave.
Dogs bark and I furnace my pottery.
Which planet are we at? I have not been here for years. The ones that have are more than
astronauts – prime ministers and advertisers. Network and social media companies are The Voice Of Government. We are all stuck to our places. Can’t move because of contagion. Easy to observe. Sitting ducks. Drying mountains and river banks.
We are very similar to you – practically the same species. Now they can finally see us down and locked, stockpiling our spoken words and dialogue chunks. Every single facial expression. All those final good-bye calls across wards and living rooms, terabytes of human speech breaking in tears. They can market that, sell it back to us as online series and tissue paper. What is automatic sentiment analysis in the wild? This is the wild, all the animals of the world trying to drink from the same lake. I try not to have thirst.
If one of them bites you, they will make it look like it was your fault. We get no training on how to break from those attacks. If the bite breaks the skin, you have to make your own way to hospital and get a tetanus shot, as well as some hepatitis ones – nobody asked me how I was after. They know I have kids. But to them, we are just prosthetics.
Who is responsible? In the intricate web of charities, organisations and government supports, responsibility gets diluted from top to bottom – that is why, if you get bitten, the clouds of people above you, trying to remain elusive, will push the fault of rain down on you. On my dry skin and hollow cheeks.
Order “A thousand thank yous” card
Note: Someone said is ok for most of the nightshift staff to be from Africa or wherever It’s not all bad. At least I have work.
Government line: Got to be wealthy to be healthy / Wipe them all scum out, finally
I’m a good banana. I’m a good banana. I’m a good banana. I’m a good banana. I’m a good banana. I’m a good banana. I’m a good banana. I’m a good banana. I’m a good banana. I’m a good banana. I’m a good banana. I’m a good banana. I’m a good banana. I’m a good banana. Stay Safe Save Lives. I’m a good banana. I’m a good banana. I’m a good banana. I’m a good banana. I’m a good banana. I’m a good banana. I’m a good banana. I’m a good banana. I’m a good banana. I’m a good banana.
This pandemic within a pandemic. Terrible stuff. I remember AIDS and Ebola. Is cancer a pandemic?
I’m not here to stop them from punching themselves, but to medicate once the punching has gone too far. Where is too far? Fainting, bleeding, open wounds, vomiting. Currently waiting
to go to court for punching a social worker. I don’t believe I’ve been diagnosed with having a personality disorder. There is no sanctuary. Where is my garden!? I can peek through the small window. My ma says they’ve even cancelled the bingo but I’ve seen this is not a war. “We are not being invaded. The body is not a battlefield. The ill are not unavoidable casualties nor the enemy”. Susana Suntag.
TAXI CAB YELLOWS
“Ko…taku ingoa – My name is…
Ko Hikuragani te Maunga – My mountain is Hikuragani Ko Waipaoa te awa – My river is Waipoa
Ko Rongopai taku marae – My sacred place is Rongopai Ko Ai-tanga-Mahaki toku iwi – My tribe is Aitanga Mahaki No Aotearoa ahau – I am from New Zealand
and I am an addict – and I am an addict” Kia Ora Koutou. Narcotics A. book. P.245 The Maori word for ‘cold’ is maremare I’ve got no maremare,
maybe mackerel Mary makes marble masks moving maremare eh oh mare
I’ve got no mountain, I’ve got no river no sacred place. I’ve got no tribe.
I’ve got no addiction. I’ve got a story to tell about a big market and the food it used to sell GREENS
“Implacable, insidious, infinitely patient viruses. In contrast to bacteria, which are relatively complex organisms, viruses are described as an extremely primitive form of life. At the same time, their activities are far more complex than those envisaged in the earlier germ models of infection. Viruses are not simply agents of infection, contamination. They transport genetic ‘information’, they transform cells…they evolve.” S.S.
The world’s not really like that. Maybe it’s because I can speak the word “world”, that I have belief of comprehending it. What’s in a phrase anyway. Not a cure, that I know! And “virus”. It sounds so quick – short in time. Yet it leaves that funny buzz on the tongue – it stings like faith! My only worry then, to evolve whilst I wait for my shift to end.
PETTY CASH RECEIPT
Git me de fuk oot