Slinking in, again with the glaring (this time at the tiny triple chime from the door, castigating me for entering late), I see the usual gathering around the watercooler. It doesn’t actually have any water in it, of course. Clean water is far too expensive to waste inside a plastic jug, just waiting for someone to knock over and spill. But it does have a very impressive hologram of water, with a sonic and motion sensor tied into the array. Nudge it or speak near it, or end your employment playing something with a bit of bass nearby, and the faux-water will vibrate just like the real thing. Just don’t try and use the switches to get any out. They’re purely decorative.
Currently, the not-water is vibrating rather impressively, to the tempo of the department manager giving an inspirational speech. I’ll spare you the gory details. Just watch any of the approved classic movies, and you’ll see basically the same speech. A thousand sports coaches, professors, parents, and mentors run their mouths for cumulative weeks in those films, and somehow manage to say nothing at all. And they don’t even say it in an interesting way.
This, of course, makes it doubly impressive that my boss manages to be even less interesting. But at least he does it loudly. Any brain cells that decided they wanted the day off are quickly abused of the notion, at top volume.
I quietly walk up to join the crowd, thankful that the no-slip treads on our jumpsuits don’t squeak. As I settle in behind Jenkins, I put on my motivated face. Vacant eyes, perked up cheeks, the occasional nod. When you know the speech, its easy to tell when things are wrapping up and important information is forthcoming, so I just check out until then. My boss slides his eyes over the crowd, lingering briefly on me. He’s probably noticed my absence in the last sweep, but to scold in public is bad for motivation. The only public punishment received is termination. Let That Be An Object Lesson and all that.
I sense that he’s winding down the peptalk, and quickly refocus my attention. Sectors are being handed out now to each technician. With a barely noticeable sigh of relief, I hear the manufacturing sector assigned to Jenkins today. Might be I’ll scrape the rest of that dust off before a new coat gets applied! And…wait…he’s running out of sectors and still I remain unassigned. This cannot be good.
At this point there are only two options left: hydroponics and floater. Hydroponics is actually worse than manufacturing, of course. At least the dust from manufacturing doesn’t try to grow and eat you, like some of the plant life in hydroponics. I may be exaggerating there, but only a little.
Floater usually isn’t too bad, and is considered something of a plum assignment. You get to float around between each sector and offer assistance where needed. It’s the touchy-feely IT assignment, wherein someone gets sacrificed to the other departments as ‘that guy’ who can fix all those little computer issues that don’t interrupt business, but still just bug you. And all in all it’s not that bad. With some creative walking you can lose yourself for ages in corridors and on slipways, and even when you have to work, you almost never have to crawl into corners. Personal terminals are in far more ergonomic (and sanitary) conditions. In the end, floater is for all intents and purposes a paid daylong vacation by comparison to being assigned to a specific sector.
I’ll just let you guess which assignment I got.