I met The Economy the other day. She was sitting at a bar in a
little pub I sometimes frequent when interstate. She looked
rather weary and her eyes had that ‘almost one too many’ look
about them. I pulled up a chair and asked her how things were.
“I’ve been a bad girl.” She said, looking me squarely in the
eyes. “I feel so used. So dirty.” I asked what had brought about
such a negative self appraisal. “Oh. It’s only the drink
talking.” She said. “I’m just not feeling myself today. Too many
worries and too much pressure from Spring and Macquarie street
types.” “Tell me more.” I said.
“Well, I’ve been getting out and about more often and it seems
like I am getting used as an excuse for everything.” “Some
puffed up, self important business guy in a suit tells me he’d
like to take me home, then tells me it’s my fault you lot cant
fix climate change. I mean, come on, do I really look like the
type who sleeps around indiscriminately and will take the blame
for every little thing?”
I had to agree, she certainly was taking the heat for just about
every human woe. Whether it’s obesity, unemployment, welfare
mums, tax cheats, the crime rate, deforestation, it didn’t seem
to matter. Whenever one of the power brokers wanted something or
didn’t want something, her name was dragged up.
“Look,” she said. “Don’t get me wrong. I love my job. Well, I
try and love my job. I look at all the good things I can do but
it seems that the real tarts get away without a blemish.” “You
know who I’m talking about.” She said with that wicked little
twinkle in her eye.
“Did I tell you I was at the nursing home the other day?” She
inquired. “It was fantastic. There were volunteers helping out
and some of the spritely ones were helping with the book reading
program. Why, they’ve even got this little co-op going where
people swap the presents their rellies bring in if they don’t
want them. I felt the spirit of my long departed sister alive
and well there.”
Her face took on an odd, far away look as I recalled the
conversations, well arguments really, she and her sister used to
have. They would bicker for hours over the legitimacy of
co-operatives and swap meets and foodbanks and underground
“Ah,” she murmured, coming back to the here and now. “I feel so
lonely sometimes.” “They keep me under strict surveillance
nowadays. They give me the run around and tell me I’m sick when
I’m not, ailing when I’ve never felt better and then they get
personal. Do you know what I hate most?” She asked.
Seeing the quizzical look on my face she launched into a tirade.
“When all else fails they attack me personally. I get bullish,
they tell me. Now, I’ve spent years trimming my diet and working
out and they attack my weight! As if to add insult to injury
they keep making threats that I’ll be the one that gets hurt if
such and such doesn’t get their own way. Bah! The old boys club
want me, they desire me and they do all they can to woo me but
they never want to share me. I keep telling them, “I’m not your
toy” but they just don’t listen. I need another drink. Your
shout.” And with that I was dispatched to the bar for the next
By the time I got back to our table she had mellowed somewhat.
Perhaps more from the Drambuie than from the company. She took
her drink and washed it around in her mouth. Her lips puckering
up and her eyes closing half way. She looked much younger and
much sexier when she made that face and I’m sure she knew it.
She’d been around and I’m sure her experience left most men for
dead. Swallowing the liqueur she opened her eyes and patted me
on the hand, reminding me of some long lost aunt about to impart
words of wisdom, beginning with the phrase, “back in my day.”
However, for The Economy, I knew this would never be the case.
“You know Shane,” she said drilling into me with her gaze. “I
was told that the best service to human kind was to be kind.
I’ve been around far too long and know that many who want me are
unkind and that just as many start off with the right intentions
but by the time they’ve lifted my skirts and experienced the
bliss I can bring, they loose the plot.”
“I’ve been doing my best but it’s just so hard when all the ones
who can help me are off doing their own thing and leaving so
many out in the cold. Just last week I visited the refuge out
west. Those mums, all they want is to be safe but those butt
heads in Canberra and Spring Street and Macquarie street, do you
know what they want to do? They want to see more metrics.
Callous bastards. These women need help relocating and the bean
counters want more research and facts.”
“I get out there and talk with these women and the disabled and
the under employed and the poor and I know what is going on. But
as soon as I get into a meeting with the men in suits, all they
want to talk about is returns on investment and lowering taxes
for their mates and punishing some young bloke from Punchbowl
who was two days late putting in his dole form.”
I could see the fire in her eyes and the passion she had for
protecting the most needy. I could also feel, almost oozing from
every pore, the contempt she had for the ways she’d been used by
the men in suits.
We drank on for some time. Much too soon I had to leave. As I
was standing to say my goodbye, she reached out and grabbed my
arm, dragging me back close to her. She raised her face and I
half expected one of her warm and tender kisses.
“I love you all. I consider you all my children and I want to do
more but I can’t go on. Too many demands and too many trying to
call the shots. I think I’m having a breakdown.”
For the first time in as long as I’ve known her, The Economy,
looked as if the wind had been punched from her stomach. I tried
to think of something to say. Some, perhaps, witty comeback that
would lift her spirits but nothing came out. I think she saw my
confusion and concern.
“Oh don’t worry about me.” She said. “I’ll be fine. It’s you and
the others I worry about, not me.” “Can you keep a secret?” She
asked. “Sure” I replied”.
“I’m about to take a long holiday. Let’s see how the men in
suits handle a world without me. Should be fun. I’ll send you a
And with that, she kissed me on the mouth and dismissed me. I
wonder when I’ll see her again.