|The box of Cards Against Humanity, a party game.|
I have a new bluetooth headset, that enables me to listen to music on the lakeside ride into work. It was a lovely sunny morning this morning, but as I pulled into work, a phone call interrupted a track from the beautiful Archie Roach, singing about another type of systemic inhumanity to that which I'm about to describe.
The phone call was from Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), who administer superannuation in Australia. I've stepped in to communications with them, to help Sunshine's mum deal with their incredibly dense bureaucracy. They are playing very hard ball with her appeal to get an early release of a small amount of her very small retirement fund, to cover the funeral costs of her mother. Femm is from the Philippines, speaks English as a third language, and struggles with mind numbing bureaucracy like most of us. APRA is refusing to release some of Femm's money because Femm can't provide them with the kind of receipts they recognise. Femm's mum's funeral was held in the Philippines, where receipts aren't common practice, and actually quite costly to get. The phone call was just more hard nosed cultural insensitivity from an inhumane person working in an over bearing Australian institution that nannies people's retirement funds, for some other greater good...
Then, directly after that horrible phone call, I stepped in to conduct a lecture, but couldn't sign into the University's network. My account had been suspended. I called the help desk who explained that my employment contract had expired. I explained I was giving a lecture, they said see your supervisor, and they couldn't give me access, even for the lecture I was apparently now giving as a volunteer. When I got home today, I discovered that I was left off the payroll too!
Now, I know the hard nosed people who seem to be everywhere these days will say I should have known my contract was going to expire, and that when it did, I'd be promptly taken off the system. Actually I expected my 1 year contract to just roll over like a lease or something, until someone met with me to say we don't need you anymore - especially as I'm teaching until the end of the year. I didn't get a single message from anyone that my contract was expired, and that my access to the network, and payroll would be stopped.
My supervisor is onto it, and being the incredibly humane person he is, will help me financially if this situation takes a while to remedy. We can't do anything about the network access however, so tomorrow will be another day of dodgy lecturing.
Our tools have made us blind to what it means to be human. Gestures of humanity are all too easy now, because by and large, blunt cruelty is just common place.