Surprise! Another Small Hands is scheduled. The meeting is announced with a cheery electronic invite, a smiley-emoji bombshell sent by admin twins Cocoa and Marsh. It advises that Metrix Barnes is addressing all MidCorp temps tomorrow. The horror!
It's terrifying. Because MoreCorp. We're on edge at the world’s friendliest corporation. Readers die, disappear, and are fired, and our gigs are threatened daily. Metrix is a sub-chief. She doesn’t talk to us about anything except being replaced by machines. Thus, this gathering doesn’t seem good.
But also the power of positude! Think good things and they will manifest. Isn’t that how now-powers get the best?
There’s a lot of nervous chatter in the Clubhouse about the invite, which is strangely nice in tone. I get the scoop from Zen who talks to Mochi who dates Bacon who is in the know, and Wolf gets his info from me because he likes to seem indifferent but isn’t entirely. As I get in the car to head home after work, he asks, “What’s the word on tomorrow?”
“We suspect …” I pause dramatically. “The Lovesport!”
“Seriously,” Wolf scoffs. “That’s your wishful thinking.”
“Is there any other kind worth our time?” Wolf hates positude but I try to believe, over and over again. Just yesterday I thought I didn’t care about MoreCorp, the Lovesport, and now I see that's not quite true. Still, workers are just speculating, filling in blanks, wind talking, so I, like Wolf, feign indifference and resist the excitement, saying, ”No one knows really. Anyway, who cares?”
And yet. And, yet. I do. I feel a little thrill. Finally, something will happen! Whether we’re booted or told that there are jobs after all. Now chips will fall.
“We're not exactly favorites,” Wolf reminds me. “Even if they announce game on.”
I disagree. We are often measured at MoreCorp, so I happen to know that Wolf and I together make three-and-a-half people in terms of production, or reduction, which is production in Prose Control. “Metrics," I tell him. "Not Metrix Barnes but numbers. It’s MoreCorp! Numbers are their shit and ours are great.”
“But numbers,” Wolf counters. “Limited spots. Reserved seating. We won't get the jobs if there are any. Your wishful thinking just makes me forget sometimes. But I have reality to remind me.”
I don’t bother arguing with him because he could be right. We’ll find out soon enough. Tomorrow.
At the Small Hands, the air is electric, tense. Temps eye roll and cluster in back rows. Cocoa and Marsh herd us up front, smiling. Unaccustomed to gentle treatment, we nervously make our way to seats nearer the grand hall’s stage, where Metrix stands. She seems oddly serene, unusually sweet, a small sturdy pink-haired sub-chief in a hoodie and glitter sweats, beaming at the group of temps.
“Hi guys. Super nice to have you here today. Gonna share some awesome nows with you.” Her happy look is so rarely seen that the audience is sitting at the edge of seats, barely breathing. Finally — after what seems like forever — Metrix says, “The Lovesport. Yay! We're doing it!”
A loud collective sigh of relief is released when Metrix utters the magic word. Lovesport. At last! Wolf and I moved X-Country for this. We’ve waited so long. The game is finally on after more than a year in Silicon, nearly two years since my first MoreCorp project in Metropolis.
Metrix continues. “You guys have been so great, so patient. Woohoo! You work hard! You do! MoreCorp is plus rewards and we wanna plus you too. Well, hehe.” She tugs a pink pigtail and giggles. “Not all of you. Just a few. The best, cuz there's actually not a lot of spots at all. And the way we determine that, the best, is scientific. It’s a numbers game. You'll be judged on your -- hehe -- metrics.”
I pinch Wolf on the arm. Vindication. I told him! Numbers and more-more are everything at MoreCorp. I’ve been listening. He rolls his eyes at me, not yet impressed by my prescience.
Metrix speaks. “For obvious reasons, I just love metrics and MoreCorp does too. They’re safe, straight, and we’ve got a ton of them on you. So we already know there are super talented folks in this room.”
I steal a glance at Zen, who is probably one of those people, a very smart handsome fellow, a friend of sorts, an ally. But a competitor. Suddenly I find the grin on his face does not suit him. Strange, I like him better when he’s grim, gossiping, reporting on labor injustices. Will satisfaction make me smugly too, or has it already? Like Zen, I’m pleased. The day of the under-doge is here.
Metrix lets the audience chatter excitedly for a minute before continuing. “There’s one caveat. We’re not judging but we are looking for more-more." She shrugs. "Now, what’s a good definition of more-more? Well, it’s hard to say.”
Is this bitch serious?! Wolf now slaps my thigh in outrage. Everyone knows more-more! It’s the magic spice that makes MoreCorp people so nice. It’s the company word for qualities that make a person more than most, more curious, creative, energetic and enthusiastic, with more ideas and idealism, ability and realism. It’s that thing that makes some people more awesome, per corp … But wait. Metrix is about to define it for us now.
She tugs on a pigtail, stomps a stumpy leg and explains. “What it is, more-more, is that certain I dunno that shows you’re awesome and grow good. Sure, that’s maybe not understandable if you have none. But let’s just say that it’s part of the calculation.”
The sub-chief stops talking to eye the room, up and down, left and right, adopting a grave tone. “Wanna warn you guys. Maintain status quo, though we usually advocate disruption. Don’t change. We’ll notice and punish. Do not become charming if you’ve been a brute. Do not flirt, inquire or demand. You’ll be told procedure, you’ll follow. We’ll choose a special few. It is what it is. I mean, it’s huge but not a big deal cuz we know who is awesome.”
She takes a breath, leans in, hovering precariously close to the stage’s edge. “Now, Spam’s not here today but she wanted me to say to you guys, because she was a boot-strapper, or, she is. She’s not gone, or anything …”
Wolf and I exchange meaningful looks. Isn’t she gone? Where has Spam, our boot-strapping chief, been since Walden King’s death? At home weeping with her tissues, as we last saw her projected on screen? Or has she met a worse fate, maybe like our friend Pug?
Metrix goes on. “Long story short. Spam’s out of pocket and will be for a while but everyone’s rooting for you. As for me, I’ll be on leave though your upward mobility’s riveting. But I’ll get your — hehe — metrics, plus more-more reports from Cocoa and Marsh. They're super at sniffing out character. Also, you'll need to write something brief. No, really! I value knows prose. It’s old but why throw out what works in small doses? We’re getting granular, looking for the most robust team and that takes all types!”
The sub-chief clears her throat. “Hahem, could really use some water.”
One of her two assistants, Cocoa, seated in the front row, jumps up to fetch. We all watch, hundreds of temps, as the plump enviable youth with a job walks down the aisle, exits, comes back armed with a bottle, and goes to the stage where Metrix receives it, saying, “You’re a doll, Cocoa. Guys,” she turns to the audience for confirmation. “Isn’t she?”
Cocoa smiles narrowly but you can tell from the disdain in her nod, the toss of blonde hair, that she wouldn't hesitate to strangle even Metrix with her fat capable hands — that’s how cold this girl is. She doesn’t give a shit. The assistant retreats and, once seated, signals with a tap on her wrist to cut it short, as if she’s wearing a watch, which she is not because no one does anymore.
Metrix takes the hint, concluding, “Gotta wrap this up. Cocoa will send details in a couple days. Remember, your MidCorp reps are here to help. Introduce yourselves to them! But we've only got a few heads budgeted, so do the math. You’re probably not getting a job. You are getting a chance. Appreciating that is more-more and that's what the Lovesport rewards. Hooray!”