Friday, 13 August 2010


Passing Placement

Monday morning and there are a handful of new starts, going through the induction mill for that dept that sits around me. They can’t be graduates; seriously, they all look too young – guessing I would put them at 18 at best. But I do find that I increasingly have no ability to guess ages, so what would I know? There are a couple of guys, too tall, too skinny, the floppy hair of whatever scene is in at the moment (like I would know).

And then the girl, the guys at a guess are Scottish, British at least, I don’t think she is. My guess here would be that she is Korean, not least given the way that the various Korean guys around the office are making an effort to stop and talk to her through her first week, to see how she is getting on. She is… petite. Long dark hair, which she has mostly worn down, showing off the precision cut – her fringe across the top of her eyebrows, the perfect consistent level of the rest of it as it falls by her shoulders. Though Thursday she wears her hair up in a pony tail.

On Monday she is told that Friday is casual dress day. The rest of the week she floats about looking reasonably smart casual anyway. Every day she wears a different top, long sleeved, a blouse or a blouse type thing. But every day she wears the same skirt. Who knows how much stuff she has brought with her, how readily she has been settled in, presumably arriving in Scotland from Korea for the first time ever. The skirt is full bodied, knee length, black, with spiralling kind of floral white patterns blazing from it – the kind of thing which is eye catching, and that you notice readily.

Thursday evening, leaving site, I drive up to the security gate, and I see her walking through the pedestrian gate. It's a bit drizzily at this point, after quite a warm afternoon, so she is carrying an umbrella, and I can’t help but wonder if she was issued that on her first day. Is it standard practice to prepare the foreign students arriving in Scotland by giving them a brolly? It would certainly make some sense.

I then notice how far back the traffic is backed up, and try to find some route round the problem. Which unfortunately makes my life worse, because when I loop round to the point I want to turn right the police are waiting. The road is closed, and I need to go left instead, into unknown territory. I seem to take the longest detour ever before finding my way back to the road I want, then because the road from there I normally take is closed for resurfacing I have to take another route again, though this time, thankfully, a more familiar path. As I loop through the town centre I stop at the lights across from the college, and there she is again, the girl. Presumably having walked a nice clear path to the main road, getting a bus, and making it all this way in a fraction of the time its taken to me.

There must be a company flat in this area, or at least one set up by certain members of staff. I’ve seen others of the young Koreans at work getting on or off buses in this stretch on previous occasions. The lights change, I go on, still frustrated by the extra half hour I’ve added to my journey with all these detours.

Today, it’s Friday, and she isn’t wearing that skirt today. The woman that brought her in and told her about the casual day said that involved “jeans, etc”. So sure enough, she is wearing jeans, and a flimsy white t-shirt, something with an abstract black pattern on it which no doubt represents something I can’t work out from the one glimpse as she goes by with the guy with the beard who seems to have been mentoring her half the week.

About noon today we get a reveal. The students do their last tour together. Then they get handed a branded goodie bag from the company, and good byes are made - they were only here for the week. When I did that I was still in school, but I'm presuming that they must have been students of some kind, getting a little bit of industrial experience. Now, I presume, are gone.


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