Each day’s a new chance, yet lives are made by the past, accidents of birth. So it is for me this morning at MoreCorp when Ampersand Matrix summons to discuss a touchy reduction production. He skirts certain words, and I will too. Suffice it to say I was born in a place not named in the Single System System (SSS) because politics.
In this place some people speak Hebrew, an ancient tongue associated with a mostly-defunct religion (all faiths suffered this fate — in the SSS we pray for suxess). Now, Prose Control is reducing religious texts, a project that brings good press from spirituality sites when handled right.
My not-boss explains this as we sync in a hidden room in the Clubhouse basement. See, officially I don’t work for MoreCorp but MidCorp, so he can’t act like I have a job, contractually speaking, although we meet frequently to discuss projects that cannot be acknowledged. Ampersand shares details. “We’re doing this Dead Sea Scrolls thing, and you’ll help Analytics with Hebrew search terms. Then what they get is reviewed with Tongue.”
Using only Tongue sounds dumb. It’s a neat MoreCorp translation program, sure. Still, it’s a machine, not a nuanced human being with a cultural sense. So I — not unlike a machine in my way — say I could review Hebrew texts once search is sorted. This is a rare opportunity, as the written language is like Aramaic now, barely used. With the webs being txt-lit, Judaica emojis (glad or sad rabbis and Stars of David) will do for Hebrew. The ancient characters of the aleph bet are ignored, despite a brief revival with the modern state of … That Place.
It’s SSS policy not to refer to it by any other name. This keeps the peace but makes some mid-east analytics projects practically impossible. How can you search for That Place? It’s as problematic as the place itself has historically been. Similar obstacles present with the place’s language, or one of them, as you’ll soon see.
They could maybe use me. Still, Ampersand doesn’t respond to my offer, focusing on his devices. I’m not carrying, no tek evident or concealed. It’s a violation of MoreCorp policy for a contractor to even have bio-wiring running here (though turning it off causes problems). My weapons are my notebook and pen, but I don’t use them because it might be rude to doodle. Not-boss responds. “Huh? Did you say something?”
“The Dead Sea Scrolls, I can help with the texts. Plus, it’s interesting.”
“Your kind of thing. Why I thought of you.” Ampersand agrees. “But there’s a workflow and you’re not worked into review. Wolf and Haiti will do the SKIing later, so don’t even worry. Stick with Analytics. It’s a chance for you, a blessing.”
I fail to suppress a grin. Ampersand smiles suspiciously. “What? Something funny?”
“Yes. Blessing. It’s funny because religion. And texts, reducing them’s amusing to a person of the book.”
Ampersand’s confused but doesn’t inquire in case it’s an identity thing, which it kind of sounds like, though it can’t be because there are none in the SSS, or there’s one to encompass all. “Ok, so we’re square? Ping Mint in Analytics. He’s fresh. The best.” He slams a screen shut, taps skull for txts, and exits, strutting. “Good talk. Gotta rush to fight club.” He hi-5’s the air and I reply with the obligatory thumbs-up.
To grow happiness you need work-life balance and creative play. That’s what made MoreCorp the amazing place it is today. But as a thumbs-up I must account for my time in quarter-hour increments to be paid by MidCorp via MoreCorp. (Or is it the opposite? It gets so confusing!). So I go find Mint.
Analytics is around the corner from SKI. Physically the teams are close but conceptually we’re worlds apart. They’re the future. We’re the past. They’re efficiency gurus, the numbers people of TLDR, and they lord it over everyone else. Analytics uses electronic searches to eliminate texts from reader reviews, while SKI, the Secret Keeping Initiative, deals in the unbearably inefficient, words with multiple meanings.
My presence in foreign territory is noted in quick pinging, sneers at screens. Still, I have an ally here, a fellow Metropolitan, Lollipop Gold, an oddball with an unabashed approach to the absurdity of TLDR. She greets cheerily. “Ellipsis, hi! I hear you’ve got takeaways on reducing your history today, so, awesome, right?”
“Makes me want to deep-dive.”
“Not yet,” Lolli says. "You're still young."
“Is Mint around?”
“No. He’s wrestling, I think. Be good bot and go back to slot. I too await him with baited breath, not always so fresh, and will message instantly when he returns.”
“Laters,” she waves. “I’ll ping.”
It’s days before Mint and I sync. Honestly, I’m in no hurry because mixed feels. But the time does come and he says the search terms he got from Tongue, the translation program, yielded nothing, no reference to the Dead Sea or the scrolls on the webs. “Seems unlikely,” Mint says. “So we have to use you, though we’d rather not.”
“I see. Well, not really. Why’s that?”
“You compromise the project.”
“No worries. Just stick to the script, your biz, and you’ll have no trouble. Got it? My people do connectors, excluders, joiners, all that. You do words.”
“That’s my thing,” I reply, peppy, leaving Mint in a hurry.
Back at my pod, I’m stuck. This is fux. Tongue led to no references for a simple reason inextricably linked to that which I’ve been instructed to ignore. I ping Lolli.
El: emperor naked, kid needs assist
Lolli: cig in 5
Always going nowhere fast, I rush down the back stairs, an exit avoided by others as the Clubhouse is built over a toxic waste dump and readings here are extra high. But I don’t mind poison, reaching for the cigs in my pocket — gone are the days of hiding bad habits and feigning the zeal for immortality expected in a MoreCorp community member.
Outside, in a far corner of the back parking lot, Metropolitans are smoking and cursing, complaining behind a cement garbage block. It’s totally un-Siliconian. Kai, a coder from X-HK, films this display — his underground uploads go mini-viral on the infra-webs. Around the world people dream of working at MoreCorp Silicon, so viewers find the bitching inside fascinating. It’s a sub-genre of vids called Schadenfreude-Lites, about the misfortunes of the fortunate (less nasty than celebrity calamities and practically as satisfying).
I’m concerned about getting caught and have even posited that Kai’s a plant, a company spy trying to trip us up, which is a plot point Wolf finds incredible. But Lolli’s apparently more paranoid than me, saying “Alright kids, no vids! Let’s not lose our gigs … or get killed by corporate cops!” She moves the group away. “We need space, a wide radius, so off you go.” The disgruntled depart and Lolli turns to me. “What’s up? Mint was mean?”
“Is that normal?”
“Yes. Kind of surprised you haven’t figured it out yet, Ellipsis. Everyone’s mean here. Weird. You look so smartsy, but I guess looks deceive.”
“How could I know? Ampersand said he’s fresh.”
“Ampersand!” Lolli laughs. “He’s an ass!”
“He’s got a great name,” I protest halfheartedly. “Ampersand Matrix. It’s great.”
“You would think that. Because he’s punctuation too, like you.”
“He’s not. Ampersand’s a logogram. Also, he's a big and, while I’m an omission.”
“Or a pregnant pause,” Lolli offers. “Although you’re skinny, so no.”
“Funny. I need your help.”
“Tek-sistential crisis? Or logograms versus punctuation?” Lolli taps her wrist, reading a txt. “That’s not a sexy fight, Ellipsis, like if you wanna sell vid rights to this story. Raise the stakes. Sex and death.”
“My not-sexy-not-boss is not the problem. It’s Mint,” I reply. “He wants random words, not how they work together for your search, which means they still won’t work. You’ll find nothing, though there’s plenty on the Dead Sea, and the scrolls.”
In a customer-service voice, Lolli coos, “How can I assist with the situation?”
“It’s simple, so I’ll tell you and you get clever credits and everything’s awesome.”
“I like. Send me the goods and I’ll make strategic suggestions!” She looks up from her tek to see me depressed. “No good?”
“No. It’s good. Should I explain it to you now?”
The Dead Sea is Sea the-Salt in Hebrew, so using a direct translation got nothing. Simple. But Lolli’s busy with efficiency, and this whole religious reduction will probably never get done anyway, which is really a blessing considering. From my perspective, that works.
This is how to look at things, per The Positude. Find upsides. Before heading back to my pod, I stop in the bathroom where the stalls display the latest installment of this inspirational circulation for the loo, spreading the good word on growing good and corporate citizenship. It is but one of many MoreCorp monthlies that remind us of positive attitude’s paybacks, keeping workers on track at all times and in all places.
The new edition specifically advises finding the silver linings in clouds that threaten rain. It’s a weird message for a Silicon bathroom, as the water in these sinks is rumored to be recycled piss and rain’s the only thing people pray for more than money here. There’s a drought. But hey, a point’s being made and I’ll see it MoreCorp’s way if that’s what it takes to play this game.
According to The Positude, a player turns frowns upside down, makes lemonade from lemons, spins dreams into gold. Clouds have silver linings, yes. This is Big Tek — if not silver, what? Chrome?