Alina J. Michaels, Sr. Technician, 12 years tenure

Submitted into Contest #200 in response to: Write a story about someone trying to track down the source of a rumor.... view prompt


Contemporary Fiction

Everything needs to be impeccable.

She stands, adjusting the blazer in front of her reflection on the opaque glass walls of the office, straightening the folds on her suit with firm pulls.

Getting back to her chair she checks her makeup on an round hand-mirror, perfect.

The computer screen displays the employee page for Alina J. Michaels, Sr. Technician, 12 years tenure. The picture on the screen looks just like a baseball card in a kids game. She goes through the page one last time, just to be sure to have all memorized.

A knock on her door. A glance to the clock, just a couple of minutes late.

-Come in-

Shabby. Just shabby, that’s the only word that came to mind while she watched Alina J. Michaels, Sr. Technician, 12 years tenure, enter her office.

-Welcome Alina, please take a seat-

A red smile of lipstick and courtesy, waiting for the employee to sit in front of her desk. How could anyone wear those shoes at her age? What is she, a forty years old emo?

-It is a pleasure to have you here, for this little one-to-one-

A serious nod from the scientist, behind her glasses

-Sure, thank you. Actually wh—

-So… how are you doing?- asks the head of HR with a little clap of her hands

A shrug of the shoulders, shabby, shabby Alina J. Michaels.

-All good, same old. Greg White is getting the hang of the job, he is soon going to make a fine team leader-

-Oh is he? This is great to hear. And what about your kids… Gwen and Tom?- she glances over the notes to get the names right.

A raised eyebrow, does she even look at the mirror? What a bush.

-They are fine, Gwen is starting to choose what to study at college next year, and Tom is starting to get some good results in his junior soccer team-

You shouldn’t smile with those crooked tooth, dear Alina J. Michaels.

-Why are you asking about them?-

She frowns.

Another perfect smile: you are welcome here, I am friendly, I am sincerely interested in you.

-Oh just some curiosity, to know more of our employees as people!-

-But you are not required to discuss it, of course-

-Nevermind, I love talking about those two ungrateful li’l darlings way too much-

Yep, shouldn’t smile.

But now, time for the main course.

-So, Alina, you have been working for us for twelve years, right?-

-Thirteen in August actually-

-That kind of passion and loyalty are commendable, good job!-

-And, what do you think about the recent events?-

She frowns. Really, is she allergic to plucking her eyebrows?

-What are you talking about?-

-The tweet. You know about it, right? It seems that everybody is talking about it-

-Oh, the tweet. It is bad-

Now a serious glance, Alina J. Michales has to know she means business

-It is. Slandering the company image, is a serious offense. The “anon” is risking a criminal charge.-

A well thought pause, let it sink in

-And it is horrible, thinking that someone would undermine the very place that regularly pays their salary, health insurance, and provide such a wonderful working environment, don’t you think?-

Is that fear? Anger? She has Alina J. Michaels in her hand.

-Yeah, biting the hand that feeds you-

She should be a scientist, yet she uses such a basic language

-Are the accusations true?-

Really she is asking this? Smile, I need the perfect smile

-Alina, don’t you trust your colleagues? the structure of the company itself?-

Once again, just a little pause

-Don’t you know that the procedures themselves would make it impossible for us to do such things? And the government would be at our door in a second, should we ever pollute the waste waters: we are always under the spotlight, we can’t simply walk away with breaking the law. While “anon” did break the law and, even more so, the mutual trust between employer and employee-

Sr. Technician Alina J. Michaels puts her hands on the desk, chubby masculine sausages with flat nails

-We are talking about poisoning the entire city, and “mutual trust” in the same sentence?-

Did she dare? In front of head of HR? Now, steel gaze.

-We are talking about lies and defamation, versus mutual trust and regulations-

-Do you even believe what you are saying? This company has been publishing false data on waste management for the last thirty years-

-I do believe in it. Please sit down, there is no need to be angry-

A gentle gesture, express calm and humanity

-And it seems that you believe the falsehoods shared on the internet by a megalomaniac-

Oh she’s getting angry, dear Alina J Michaels, you are threading dangerous grounds: time to press forward

-You know full well that any employee can file their concerns on the continuous improvement box in the entrance. Why would you think this “anon” went to twitter, instead of coming to us-

-BECAUSE. Because this “anon” had her legs cut after voicing her concerns. Because, Greg White was promoted instead of her, because he is a dimwit yesman, while SHE would have made something good of this shithole of a place.-

Now it’s her turn

-Oh you a—

-Because, my salary and my medical insurance, will never cover for the expenses of curing my children’s cancer, when they will get it, because they have been exposed to toxic waste since they were born!-


Trolls of German mythology probably look like her: ugly, unkempt, angry and sorely defeated by intelligent, civilized and respectful humans.

A smile, sharp as knife

-You are not. Sit down, or I will have to call security. You broke your NDA, broke the pact of mutual trust with your employee, and committed a crime against the company. You are hereby suspended, while the conditions of your dismissal will be discussed.-

Now a sad face, make it clear, but subtle

-You could have used your available tools, instead of bypassing them. You could have done so much more, by simply filing a concern module. I am very sorry it had to end this way.-

There is a simple and deep pleasure in a job well done.

She was not happy, of having to fire Alina J. Michaels, Sr.Technician, 12 years tenure. But she had navigated that one-to-one to perfection, followed every rule and procedure, while that other one, instead, had just chosen to throw everything away.

It was Alina J. Michaels own fault, she had only done her job as it was requested of her. As anyone should do.   

June 01, 2023 11:15

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Wally Schmidt
18:03 Jun 05, 2023

The format of this story is really original and refreshing. From the self-talk and observations of the HR bureaucrat to the repetition of Alina J. Michaels, Sr.Technician, 12 years tenure, it all works. By repeating Alina J. Michaels, Sr.Technician, 12 years tenure, the reader really gets the idea that the HR rep is never going to see an employee for what they are but solely what their company bio says about them. Rather depressing and well written.


21:17 Jun 05, 2023

Thank you for your feedback, it really motivates me to keep on trying! I am glad that I managed to pull off what I intended to :)


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Delbert Griffith
11:46 Jun 04, 2023

Love it! The typical HR automaton, spouting policy instead of actually empathizing and attempting to see things from the employee's point of view. I really liked that you over-used "Alina J. Michaels, Sr. Technician, 12 years tenure," because it breaks literary rules but it does so to add to the tale. That was a master stroke. A couple of things: "Oh she’s getting angry, dear Alina J Michaels, you are threading dangerous grounds: time to press forward" You need a period at the end, and I think "treading" should be used instead of "thread...


12:30 Jun 04, 2023

Thank you for your precious feedback! Indeed I really have to work on my English grammar, thanks for the corrections :) Yeah my idea with "Alina J. Michaels, Sr. Technician, 12 years tenure" was to give that sense of her being see as little more than a baseball card, glad that it worked! I am very happy to see that I managed to convey that "villanous" feeling of an efficient bureaucrat. I was trying to pay homage to "inglorious basterds" opening scene


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Michał Przywara
20:51 Jun 08, 2023

A great standoff in a one-on-one meeting :) I think what's excellent here is, we have two characters who are fighting two completely different fights, with two completely different goals. Unfortunately for Alina, the balance of power favours HR. Alina's not an idealist - she's been doing this too long, and has profited from it too much. But she's also had enough, and decided to act. Her position is based on morals. The interviewer, on the other hand, is a stalwart bureaucrat. For them, the only thing that matters is compliance with procedu...


07:46 Jun 09, 2023

Thank you for the thorough analysis, I am very glad of your support! Being non-native sometimes I stumble on some dumb errors, and fail to notice them on my own. As per that line of dialogue you are referring to, I was trying to give that sense of the talker taking a brief pause and then pressing on. I was not 100% confident of it, and now I am sure it didn't work as intended. Thank you for the support, you gave me great motivation!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.