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values equal profits - page 2

BUS RIDE

Truth be told, it wasn’t my idea, not the revival part, that just happened, I just wanted to go, just go and keep going, maybe bring joy into people’s lives, starting with mine, see what’s out there, learn, change, help, like disciples, only we had no leader, no Jesus, least not one we could all point to, that kind of magic had long since been taught out of us, though we still were allowed to create our own magic, if we could, most couldn’t, but that’s not my issue, or maybe it is, maybe that’s why I did this, because I just one day decided to use what little money we had, never told the wives, though they needed to go also, that much was clear, and so I refashioned a late model driverless truck and made it into a traveling mobile home, not home, exactly, more a collection of people, me, the wives, our children, a couple neighbors, others who joined us, took a lot of time, wasn’t hard, just time-consuming, of course time I have plenty of, what with our monthly stipend only requiring us to pledge to work 4 hours a day, but it took me a year, all told, to turn that truck into a mobile village, two bathrooms, makeshift kitchen, bunks for 15, plus our tools, out belongings, we’d travel the roads, laugh at the folks staring at us, stop wherever it seemed interesting, or when we had grown too restless to keep moving, bit of petty crime, some sex trade, off-list drugs, that sort of stuff, only it slowly turned into something else, a sort of revival in motion, others tracking our every mile, we’d all get out, the curious townfolk would gather, like we were from some distant star, at first a few, then crowds of fifty, then a hundred, then a thousand, a mini-economy built up, we’d offer music and dance, do baptisms for money, trade artwork for protein drinks and anti-aging pills, offer prayers for the people who joined in, and sometimes for those that didn’t, maybe stay in other’s homes, learn from each other, steal a small object or two, tack it onto the bus, a testament to who we met, where we’d been, their lives, though that wasn’t always easy, the motors in my legs had long since run down and not many were willing to help a 600-pound-man into their home, then on to the next town, then the next, hoping that the bridge from Alaska to Russia, which they promised to have completed five years ago, ever got finished, yes it was fine for everyone watching us, we’re now one of the most popular shows on the screen, people tracking us eat, sleep, stop, build, tear down, but I’d also like to see those folks across the oceans in real, not just in screen, that also makes for much better music, I think, since it’s quicker to feel what the others feel, of course that’s for another day, right now I’m just happy to be moving, staring up out the window overhead, laying here in my bunk, wondering what it will be like where we stop next, how the people will treat us, how the local security will treat us, what the children will discover, who will join us, who will depart us, what we’ll trade, that’s always the most fun, the thinking about it before.

CHEAPER THAN A DOG

Your name is Prosody.

My name is Prosody, she replied.

No!

The man struck her. You sound much too timid!

She tried again.

My name is —

Smack!

You sound like you’re unsure!

There were tears. She was only 7, barely two feet tall. She smiled, but you could sense she was deeply hurt.

I don’t like you.

Why don’t you like me, she replied — then was punched this time, eliciting another howl, then pleading. Please, stop! Get off. Please!

A voice from behind the glass spoke. Sounds fake.

If you play with me then I will like you.

She rushed to the small table, eager. I like to play!

That’s not where you’re supposed to sit!

There was an audible whimper. She slowly got off the chair. She stood, trying hard not to cry, failing.

You know where you’re supposed to sit!

The tears began streaming down her pudgy cheeks. She did not know where she was supposed to sit.

Can I sit here?

Another voice from behind another glass. Now she sounds too human.

You’re too fat to sit there.

I wish I wasn’t fat.

You are fat! Fat and stupid! We are not friends!

Please be my friend! She rushed in close for a hug.

The man looked toward the glass. I think she’s ready.

The perfect companion. Even for the problem children.

For $50 you can’t expect perfection.

Still, cheaper than a dog.

NOT APPLE CO MATERIAL

You want this job, you want this job so bad, you do, and you have all the necessary experience, tops among all interviewees, and they need you, that much is clear, and you’ve answered every question, passed every test, the background checks, the social media review, psychology exam, but now comes the hardest part, it’s okay to be scared, this has felled many others, maybe some even better than you, but it must be done, you have to understand, we demand a better world, a righter world, a more colorful, inclusive world, and you’re white and male and heterosexual, and while it’s true that everyone is inherently biased, it’s more true that some are more biased than others, and so the employer has constructed this final test, no, you may not ask how we came to be in charge of this given that everyone is biased, that’s you’re first wrong answer, in fact, but as I was saying, we have fashioned this test, here, put on these goggles, you have now entered a new world, a world where you are black and fat and gay, no, don’t do anything, just be you, this new you, and tally all the forms of bias which you — as black and fat and gay — experience, oh, I’m afraid you were offended by less than 50% of the verifiable forms of bias set inside this world, we’ll need better, but don’t worry, your scores on all your previous tests were stellar, try this, we should have started with this one, you’re still white, still heterosexual, but now female, 3–2–1, no, I’m sorry, that was a hidden test, the person only looked female based on your pre-conceived values — which are inherently biased, never forget that — in fact, that person actually identifies as male, try harder with this last one, you can do it, we really want to hire the very best here at Apple Co, we have faith in you, don’t forget that, here, let me adjust the VR glasses for this last one, you are now a virtual you, ad you are happily working at Apple Co, contributing to our great company, and there, right there, in the post-launch meeting you chose that word — grit — when asked to describe how you met a rather intimidating deadline, see, but that’s wrong, you failed to understand how that word violates the very sensibilities of so many others here at Apple Co, meaning I’m afraid that we must say no, you’re just not Apple Co material.

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