My name is Nathalie Pechman and I have never held a job for more than a day.
It seems that no matter what I do, or where I do it, something must go wrong. Have you ever heard of Murphy's law? Yeah. I bet Murphy himself could have turned me into a friggin case study! Accidents are attracted to me like flies are to honey. Or opposites. Or...whatever. The point is, I often find myself in the worst situations. I will not pretend like it does not get to me. My friends have noticed a change in my mood of late. One of them recommended I try putting my feelings on papers, so here we are. Writing...
This is the first time I have ever done something like this. I usually keep my thoughts in my head. What a big leap this is--marking my worst moments down for posterity. God, I hope no one ever reads this. I mean, it is not like I am documenting secrets, but there are details best left unwritten, if you know what I mean. Exposing them here is a little therapeutic. Maybe I won't remember my most awkward moments as I lie awake in bed at three in the morning, for once? That would be nice.
I think I am rambling. I should stop rambling.
Alrighty! I guess I should get to the story. The real meat and potatoes. The main event you have all been waiting for. My story starts with the first job I ever had, and the first of many I lost.
Last year, around the time I graduated from university, my parents encouraged me to move out and find a job. It was about time and we all knew it. Not only had they paid for my degree, they also let me continue leeching of them at home into my early twenties. Bless their hearts, I love them so much. Needless to say, I was not upset about it. In fact, I was really excited! The idea of going out into the world and applying what you have learned, making a difference, and most importantly, getting a paycheck, was something I wanted.
Then the real world decided to hit me with so cold, hard truth.
It turns out a degree in Tourism is not very useful when hardly anyone is interested in coming to your country. I looked for any work remotely related to my studies but came up with nothing. Pretty soon I was low on money and close to being kicked out of my new apartment after only having it for a month. I wanted to ask my folks for money, but felt too shy. I do not think they would have said no, but I would not have felt right about asking. What could I do? A young lady with no real-world experience, no real skills, and practically zero prospects?
That was when I decided to make a change.
I was looking around online for job listings when I came across one that looked perfect. Seriously, it was too good to be true! An opening for a tour guide, no prior experience required. I was smiling ear to ear until I scrolled down.
"Position open to Lilli nationals only. Must be based in Lilliputia."
I let out the biggest sigh of my life. Why does life give me hope, only to take it away? Despite the ad being irrelevant to me, it did give me an idea. If there are no opportunities for work at home, then there must be elsewhere. Given, there are only two other places to go. Looking back, I think I chose to go to Lilliput so that I would not feel smaller than I already did. For once I could be big and important. That alone was a huge factor. Gulliverians are privileged in that they can visit all three nations of this world. Brobs are banned from Lilli territory and Lillis almost never go to the Brobs. Meanwhile, us middle children can go where we please.
And so, I began looking for work in Lilliputia. I filtered my searches for Gulliverians only, which brought up quite a few! Apparently, they love us over there. It is no surprise given their relationship with our 'eldest siblings'. Anyway, I found one that was not relevant to my degree, but would be easy enough. A demolitions worker; manual labor that requires no prior experience. There was an interview process, but that was no problem at all. I think they just wanted to make sure I was not someone crazy. Once I had the job, I packed my things and booked a flight.
Lilliputia is an incredible place. From the moment I set foot--no, even before that, when my plane was landing, I was already blown away. They had an entire airport for people like me. It was connected to a small, gated community where us 'bigger' folk live. A suburban compound on the outskirts of a major city that I was to call home for the foreseeable future. Naturally, our size makes it difficult and dangerous to move about freely. They set up zones where we can walk, sit, etc. I quickly got to know my neighbors and settled into one of the few places built to accommodate me.
I spent the next two days figuring things out. The village has a couple of restaurants and a grocery store which we all use. Most all of the food and resources that existed there are imported from home. You could find almost anything you wanted without ever having to leave. If I had never left that compound, I might have forgotten I was abroad. It was only when I went to work for the first time that I realized how odd our kind is here.
Dressed in the uniform sent to my new home, I left my home bright and early, following the specified route to the demolition site. In the span of a few seconds, my surroundings went from familiar to downright toy-like. As I walked through the city, using a street prohibited to all Lillis, I could not help but laugh. Their buildings were only about waist height, the tallest being just shorter than myself. I could see tiny office workers through the glass windows, paying me no mind as they went about their day. Little cars like those children play with were driving around on the parallel streets on my left and right. I could even see tiny pedestrians walking around.
Most everything was so small. It really made me feel big, even though I was not.
It did not take long to arrive at the site. I found a medium-sized building marked by a large tarp for demolition. The surrounding area was clear of all life, with the exception of the men and women at work. I stopped walking a few feet from it, seeing as there were a couple dozen people in the way. I honestly was not sure where our space ended and theirs began, so I decided to play it safe.
"Hi there! You must be Nathalie." A tiny voice called to me. "You're a little early. We haven't had the chance to evacuate the area yet. Just sit tight."
I turned my head, looking at the rooftop of one of the taller buildings. I saw a tiny man dressed similarly to me holding a loudspeaker. I recognized his face immediately. He was the one who hired me; the leader of this team, and an expert in urban demolitions.
"Mr. Luther! I'm sorry, I did not see you." I turned to face him, waving awkwardly. "Um...yeah, that's me. I was pretty excited to do this so I woke up extra early. Take all the time you need; I am ready to go whenever. Just say the word!"
"Glad you're so enthusiastic, but you're getting ahead of yourself. Do you know what you'll be doing today?" He asked me.
"I am tasked with demolishing this building, right?" I asked, seeking confirmation. I make a gesture to show a building collapsing downward. "In a way that is safe, obviously."
He smiled, though, I only now realize that it was not because he was impressed. Probably worried, given what I said. "There is a procedure for this type of work. You are not the first Gulli our company has hired to do this. Listen carefully and I do exactly as I say."
Mr. Luther proceeded to outline the 'how' and 'why' while everyone else cleared out of the area. First, I would remove the tarp and set it down in a nearby area designated for it. Second, I would take a special tool provided for me and begin chipping away at sections of the building from the top down. Last, I would help scoop up the debris onto trucks waiting to take it away. All of this was to save time and money. Given my size and strength, I was very well suited for the job. If the building began to collapse in a dangerous way, I could catch it. Having me around would potentially save lives. It sounded so easy! I had no idea how royally I would screw it up.
"Is there anything you need clarification on?" He asked me. "There are no stupid questions when it comes to safety."
"I've got it. Don't you worry, boss! I'll have this done ASAP." I nod confidently, crouching to pick up the tool from the street below.
"Alright then, Nathalie. The area is cleared. You are good to go."
Nervously, I stepped forward into the Lilli space. Slowly, carefully, I reached for the tarp and began to pull it off. So far so good! I set it down and a small crew promptly dragged it away. Phase one was complete, with no problems whatsoever! I was feeling very proud of myself. Next, I raised the tool to the roof of the building and light tapped at it. I held back, but even so, a large fissure formed across the top and corner. I repeated this, using slightly more force with each tap, until a large chunk fell away. On instinct, I caught it in my free hand, only to remember that it is fine to let it fall. This was an exercise in controlled demolition, after all.
"You're doing great. Keep it up!" Mr. Luther called to me from the rooftop near me.
I gave him a nod, without looking back. I was so focused on my work! Little by little, chunks of the building were falling away. The demolition was not difficult, but the dust clouds I was producing were beginning to irritate my eyes. Not wanting to be a complainer, I simply powered through. Floor by floor, I reduced the building to rubble. I started standing, then leaning, then kneeling, until I was sitting with my legs out, and the building between them. It took me the better part of an hour, but I managed to break the entire thing down without any issues.
"How is this? I hope the mess is not too big." I asked Mr. Luther, looking up at the other building. To my surprise, his response come from much closer, and much lower. The tiny man walks up to stand by my right leg, observing my work.
"Relax, Nathalie. You've done great! Cleanup is the easiest part. Once you finish that, we'll send you paycheck." He encouraged me. "Easy money. Ah, it must be nice to be big."
"Thank you, sir. Yes, it does have its advantages from time to time!" I laugh.
I allowed him a chance to get away before I changed positions. I sat on my heels, twisting left and right to grab handfuls of debris and deliver them to the trucks waiting beside me. It was like a supply chain. Every time I filled one, it would drive off only to be replaced by another. It was wonderfully efficient! It only took me twenty minutes to have the entire area cleared. Where a building had stood ninety minutes ago, now an empty plot remained. A job well done, if I said so myself.
You might be wondering how I screwed up. With the building gone and no one hurt, everything was fine. You would be right to think that. My screw up actually had nothing to do with the building I was demolishing. It had to do with the brand new one beside it that was set to be opened the following day. I had been too focused on my job to realize how much of the debris had landed on me. Chunks of concrete, shards of glass, steel beams, and a whole mess of tiny objects littered the creases of my uniform. As I stood up, the debris began to dislodge, falling onto the streets below.
"Nathalie, be careful!" Mr. Luther yelled at me.
Hearing him yell made me assume I was about to step on someone. I don't know why I assumed that, but in the moment that is what I understood. I stopped my foot, just before it touched down, which then put me off balance. I began to fall backward. Concerned only for the tiny lives around my feet, I whipped my head around to check the space behind me. In that moment, I saw no one around, so I allowed myself to step back. This is the part where my notorious bad luck reared its ugly head. My foot landed in a dug-up part of the street where maintenance on some pipes were being done. I am so thankful the workers were not there.
"W-Wah!" I yelped, my lack of balance turning into a full-on fall. "Look out!"
The next thing I knew, I was sitting on a very nice, very expensive looking building. I threw my hands forward, doing everything I could to avoid putting my full weight on it, but it was no use. For a moment, it felt like it could take me. There would be damage, but it would survive. Wishful thinking! Suddenly, the entire thing gave way. I fell through each and every floor until I landed hard on my butt on ground level. A huge cloud of dust obscured the area, causing me to cough. I waved it away, only to find a crowd of Lillis forming around me, staring in shock and horror. There had been no casualties, thank heavens, but the building was no more. Me and my big butt left nothing but rubble.
"Nathalie! You! Y-You!" Mr. Luther emerged from the crowd, pushing his way past people. He was so mad, and his face was so red. I would later learn that his company partially owned that building. "What have you done?!"
"I'm so sorry! I didn't- I thought I was going to step on someone, and-"
"I don't want excuses!" He barked at me. He was practically foaming at the mouth. "That was one point two billion! All gone because of you!"
"I-I will make it up to you! Please, I'll- Oh! Let me help build it back up! I'll work for free!" I begged him, as if anything I said would change the inevitable. Oh, I must have looked so pathetic! I am cringing just thinking about it.
"Nathalie..." He stared daggers at me, despite being smaller than one of my finger segments.
"Y-Yes...?" I shrunk back into myself, bracing for what was to come.