When you’re on Workcover (receiving partial pay for being injured at work) you are warned that you may be ‘monitored or under surveillance by private investigators’ employed by the insurance company or employer.
The first time I was told, I didn’t take it in.
The time I read it in a letter as a gentle warning, I thought, ‘Who would do that?!’
I looked for some information about other people’s experiences on the Internet. You know, you can’t ask out loud, just throw it out there. It’s an isolating experience. You find answers where the rest of us go to find each other. Forums. Blogs. Websites.
And I read some stories about ways detectives had followed and reported on injured workers. One who pretended to be a potential tenant and attended an open house, asking the kids questions about their Dad who was on Workcover. I mean SERIOUSLY. I’d erased the old me from the Internet years ago. Used search engines to find mention of myself by anyone, anywhere I’d appeared, even proud moments or awards I’d won. And deleted them.
Delete. Delete. Delete. All gone.
If I leave the house, even for an appointment with someone or to see my GP, I look around me at all times. I check for people watching me. I avoid open spaces. Main roads. Shopping centres. And schools. I avoid schools like haunted houses. 3.30pm when the kids all spill out…terrifies me. They’re everywhere. Teachers. Students. Parents. And they’re all laughing and busy in a place I dreamt of working in, a place that should be safe. I am scared of them, yet wish desperately to be back there. It’s a shitty, mixed up feeling.
My son goes to daycare occasionally so that he learns that there is more to the world than the bubble in which we have lived. I went to pick him up one afternoon recently (in obligatory sunglasses and hat) and I felt a man watching me. I saw him scribbling down some notes. I thought, ‘Is he making notes on me?’
I felt sick to my stomach. Shrunk into my seat. I became harder to breathe.
I reversed the car and noticed his number plate. The letters.
If that man was an investigator, he has a bloody wry sense of humour. And brass balls.
I laughed later, though. That paranoia. Is he watching me? SPY. Yeah, probably not this time.
Bloody Workcover. If you’ll excuse me, it’s a headfuck.
PS Thanks for saying lovely things lately. It’s very, very special to me that you take the time to do that. Much appreciated xx