Haiti is at a parade celebrating her now-defunct namesake nation and misses the Small Hands announcing the Lovesport. So I message her after the meeting, as instructed, to say the game is on, relaying what sub-chief Metrix Barnes said about our job prospects. Here’s what I know; hundreds are competing for a few seats, not many. The winners will be chosen for their metrics and more-more, that special something that makes MoreCorp people special.
Her response is swift and disconcerting. Haiti immediately changes her avatar from a smiling childhood pic to an image from an archery class she started taking after the release of Fight or Die 7 — Let the Killing Begin. She’s aiming, bow tensed back, arrow forward, squinting at the camera like she’s hunting me, wearing silver, futuristic and ancient. I wonder if Haiti saved the snap for this occasion. That was a fast switch. Her reply is terse: Let the killing begin.
I’m surprised, expecting more sweet feels, less aggression. But she's busy with the parade and this might be a mass-txt to all her sources. Haiti’s got lots. So I tell myself it's no big deal. Nothing is. That’s what everyone says. Even the Lovesport, which we waited for so long, seems like no big deal, just as Metrix claimed when she announced the game.
Wolf and I spend the weekend in UnCorp, cool in the green shade of the redwood forest, muted and subdued. Or maybe we’re just digesting the announcement … by Funday evening, the air in our tiny cabin is crackling. We plot strategy, talking fast and loud, annoying Hound. It turns out we’re feeling feisty after all. Very game to play!
But we still don’t know specific asks. It’s all very abstract. Metrix gave no clear idea of what the job is, how much it pays, or anything else. We’re told not to ask and assume the prize is grand. Why be so petty as to worry about details? We who do TLDR, control prose, reduce texts, we know all too well how little anything matters.
Besides, why should individuals -- real people as opposed to legal -- act like corporations, assess risk and return on investment? Why bother with ROI? MoreCorp is a sure bet! Don’t you get it? It’ll be totally worth it, whatever they’re offering. Everything is awesome. Good Grows Good … mmm mmm baby, it sure does.
Certainly, we feel good. On 1-day morning, driving to Silicon, Wolf and I are singing in the car, happy, and we’re not alone. The Clubhouse is unusually cheerful and chatty. Spirits are lifted. We’ve been gifted. Sad Disco Ninjas are now jazzed — we may pay off that edu-debt someday. We could get jobs at the headquarters of the world's friendliest corporation and be the envy of everyone (of course, we forget that no one outside MoreCorp knows about the company caste system and that we already seem enviable).
When she announced the game, Metrix warned us not to change. But we’re unable to stay glum. Suddenly everyone's engaged and enthused, into it, whatever it is we do. Oh, so, that’s the thing. People don’t know. They ask around, fishing for wisdom. But the Discovery Chief, Spam, chided me early on, when I got here, so I’ve developed in the realm of disco and prose control, learned what thought leaders say about my inevitable obsolescence.
They think they don't need me. But I know human readers offer things machines don't. Not speed, granted, but spontaneity, creativity, nuance, connections, questions -- keeping it real in age of artificial intelligence. What I must do is make my case in simple, delicious terms that work for people named after pastries -- like the Team Liaison, Eclair -- maybe mention frosting and cake.
Admin twins Cocoa and Marsh send instructions. Players will answer questions in e-forms that compile in a spreadsheet. Contestants’ cubes will be compared — we’ll get more-more scores, which will be added to our metrics, all that will be calculated, and winners get interviews. That's round one. In a section entitled Wise Words, the twins advise: Be brief. This is TLDR.
The next section, Asks, provides the following:
1. Strengths: List 5 ways you grow good with good.
2. Sux: List 3-5 ways you're fux.
Q’s? File a ticket.
After instructions are digested, everyone exchanges about the best approach to the application. Wolf and I have each other, personal full-time counselors, also competing against one another. It’s a little complicated but fine. In Metropolis, before this began, we made a deal that’s supposed to be a win-win, and we’re disciplined, so we don’t discuss our personal competition. On the way home to UnCorp we consider strengths and weaknesses generally. “Basically the same thing,” Wolf says. “Two sides of one coin.”
“Yeah, but only list minimum sux. Don't give a bunch of fux,” I advise. “And make them fake, like, secretly they’re strengths.”
He summarizes. “Humblebrag.”
“Yeah. Exactly,” I agree. “That. With plus brag. Oh! What do you think of this? Zen says wait until the deadline, that we shouldn't seem too eager to apply.”
“Weird. Don’t they like psyched?”
Wolf thinks we should apply immediately to show we're reliable and have a sense of urgency. Normally, I’d agree. But this is MoreCorp. They're weird. “Maybe they like psyched," I reply. "But they say they like a lot of things and don’t seem to like anything, or know what anything means, or mean anything they say, so … I don’t know.”
We’re silent, our eyes on the steep winding mountain road ahead, contemplating the game, the corporation, competition, not discussing the many things we can't discuss right now, like applying for an unknown prize at a place we kind of hate but know is supposed to be great. Finally, Wolf reminds me of the rules, our rules, saying, “The samurai decides in seven breaths.” He furrows his brow, sounding grim, “Zen doesn’t know where we've been or what we’ve done or how and when we did it. Let’s figure it out tonight and apply in the morning.”
“SGTM,” I concede. He’s quiet, so I explain. “Sounds good to me.”
“Seriously, El? You’re telling me? I know. I’m just thinking. There aren’t many spots.”
"Well we don't know how many," I protest. “Metrix said metrics and more-more. We have those!”
Wolf doesn’t argue with me. What’s the point? I say a lot of things neither of us are sure can be believed. Because win-think. We’re supposed to have positude and I try to, telling myself tall tales of the barefoot coder, young Ergo Sum, the sweet superman MoreCorp founder who built a company that cultivates smart creatives. But now he’s an old billionaire who rules the world and I'm pretty sure he doesn’t care if two scrappy not-kids with more-more galore get passed over.
Wolf and I stay up late debating our strengths and sux at a wooden table in our tiny cabin in the forest where MoreCorp doesn’t even seem real. Hound, our dogerman winter, flops nearby on the wooden floor, annoyed, big white body somehow expressing exasperation in the sprawl of his paws, the depth of his heavy sighs. Meanwhile, Wolf and I try to find the perfect biz-buzz words for our good and fake-bad qualities (channeling Candy Cane, of course).
We get up early, dress in our samurai best, and ask Hound to do his thing. He accompanies us up the steep, uneven stairs to the entrance of Shaolin, and I swear on the Founders, on Ergo Sum's whole fortune, that the doge looks knowingly at me as I get in the car to go. Maybe he'll paw the quantum for us ... or maybe I should be careful what I wish for.
It's dawn when Wolf drives us down to Silicon. We reach the Clubhouse early, slide into our slots, and draft. Then we exchange applications, suggest formulations, congratulate each other on our awesome humblebrags, and file our Lovesport forms. At long last! Whatever our chances, It does feel kind of great, I must say.
The office is still empty when Wolf and I abandon our slots and meet in the toxic back stairway to go out for a celebratory smoke in the parking lot. Haiti’s riding by on a multicolored unicycle when we reach our spot. She pulls up and hops off, tall, dark, hair coiled high atop her head like a crown, asking, “Can I get a cig?”
Wolf hands one over, and I say, “Hey. How was the trip?”
“Great!” Haiti laughs. “Especially after I heard about the Lovesport. I’m pretty ready. Just gotta do the application. Argh. Have you guys started?”
“Yeah,” Wolf says. “We’re done.”
“But Zen says not to hurry.” She asks, “So maybe waiting a bit would have been better?”
Wolf and I exchange small smiles. He replies, “We heard. Could be sabotage. Sounds stupid.”
“You’re mean, Wolf,” Haiti chides. “Zen’s just trying to help. Let’s focus on win-think.” She high-fives the air, signaling our future greetings, the jingling that will sound soon, when we’re all maxis, MoreCorp employees, insiders with special security clearances. Hopping back on the bright unicycle, Haiti waves cheerfully and rides away, singing, “Let the killing begin!”
A chill runs down my spine and I feel some type of way -- not happy, like a few minutes ago. Why does she keep doing that? It's unfriendly. Or is that too sensitive? It's just a reference. It’s no big deal. Nothing is. Right?