Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Microstory 477: Floor 8 (Part 2)

New Machinist: Hey, Old Machinist, could you help me clean the LC-10J?
Old Machinist: I keep trying to tell you people that I’m new here. I didn’t have anything to do with the windows. I don’t know anything.
New Machinist: Uh, yeah...but didn’t you have these machines over at the other building?
Old Machinist: No, we were still using 10Gs. And I’m sorry for blowing up at you. Yes, I could figure out how to clean it, I’m sure it’s not that different. But why would you want to? We’re on lockdown. About the only benefit to that is that we’re not expected to do any work.
New Machinist: I know, but I’m bored out of my mind. I was working fourteen hours on an oil rig back when those were a bigger deal. Idle hands, and all that...
Old Machinist: So were you let go? Because of the push towards renewables?
New Machinist: No, I quit because of renewables.
Old Machinist: Ah, yes, you could see the writing on the wall.
New Machinist: Well, the thing about the writing on the wall—which makes it different than which way the wind is blowing—is that someone has to write it. Then, for it to have any impact, enough other people have to read it. If only a few people take notice then it doesn’t really mean anything. The only way the future survives is if we protect it. Over the last several years, I consistently grew ashamed of my work. We were holding progress back for the entire world, and our logic behind it was that such work was our livelihood. And that’s a very good reason; one that’s pretty hard to argue with. I used it for years. Then at some point, I had to realize that the only way Big Oil stays in business is if guys like me keep working for it. I had to take a stand. I had to be strong enough to risk losing everything. And it worked. Here I am, in a better job with shorter hours, and dental. I went from sucking up oil from the ocean to oiling up machines that are slowly learning to replace me. I guess I’ve not come far when you put it like that.
Old Machinist: You’ve done better than me. I’ve never taken a stand on anything. I’ve never risked anything. I don’t know what it’s like to be ashamed, because I’ve never allowed myself to be in a position to make any major mistakes. I’ve never really lived.
New Machinist: You’re young. You have time.
Old Machinist: That’s right, I am young. I’m a millennial, and I know when I’m not wanted. Like you said, these machines are replacing us, so why would I stick around?
New Machinist: You’re going to quit?
Old Machinist: I don’t think I have a choice. I think I need to go back to school.

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