Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 23, 2398

Mateo stayed up all night while the forger was working, so he has to take in a nap in the middle of the day. Leona is anxious to get to her new job, but she is going to have to wait a few weeks. The access badge she was given is ready on its own, but the backstory is not. She can’t just waltz in there and expect the humans to be as accommodating as the radio-controlled doors. The lie is that she’s transferring from another university, but it will take time to process the paperwork, and field the calls that her future supervisor will make to verify the request. Ramses, on the other hand, is all ready to go. It only takes a single call from store to store to verify his transfer, and his manager doesn’t need a bunch of information in this regard. He’s a warm body capable of performing a hard reset on a laptop; that’s good enough. She decides to accompany him on his orientation just to offer support. He thinks that’s a little weird, but the manager does not.
“We’re always looking for new recruits,” Oswald tells her enthusiastically.
“Okay, um. I would only be able to work part time,” Leona explains, wondering if this is truly why she came. “I have something else in the evenings.”
“That’s fine,” Oswald says. “Can you start right now?”
“You don’t want to interview me?” she questions.
“All right,” Oswald decides. “Initiate interview: how much do you want?”
“Normal entry level pay,” she answers.
“That’s only thirty dollars an hour.”
“Wow. Inflation has gotten pretty bad, hasn’t it?” Leona muses.
Oswald shrugs. “Hm. Seems normal to me, but okay, entry level. Deactivate interview. Activate offer: you got the job. Do you want it, or not?”
“I’ll take it,” Leona agrees. And just like that, she has a day job.
“Good.” Oswald is relieved. “By company policy, I have to be in the room while you watch the orientation video. I generally prefer to start as many people as I can on the same day. Sorry, Mister Abda...Abdula—”
“Abdulrashid,” Ramses helps.
“Right. Sorry, but you have to watch it too, even though you’re a transfer.”
“That’s okay,” Ramses assures him.
The video is fine, but it might get tedious after having to watch it for the upteenth time. While Oswald is wearing his headphones against the back wall, cleverly placed so he can’t be seen not paying attention through the window, the two of them learn about where they’re going to work. An anthropomorphic diamond appears on the screen with a big smile on its face. “Welcome to Tialma IRL, our brick and mortar division of Tialma Systems. Just so you know, there are two other divisions within the main corporation: Tialma Digital, and Tialma Services. You may be working with other team members from these departments, so it’s important that you’re aware of them on your first day. Speaking of which, congratulations. You have chosen to work for one of the most innovative, socially conscious, and inclusive stores in the world. At Tialma, we believe that the customer comes first, the employee comes second, and the shareholders come last. We’re not here to make money. We’re here to support the community, and you’re an integral component of that strategy. Let me explain to you what we mean by that.”
Once the generic video is over, they’re given a quiz on it, which they ace easily. They’re then handed aptitude tests. Leona will just be a salesperson, while Ramses will work in the repair department in back. They each ace their own test too, affording Leona a ten dollar increase in pay, and automatically assigning Ramses as the lead technician of his team. Unfortunately, this means demoting the guy who already had that job. They’re starting to learn that this is a pretty cutthroat reality, which stresses competition over personal growth and success. You have to be the best, and then stay the best. The main sequence encourages healthy competition as well, but with a much stronger emphasis on the healthy part. The Third Rail doesn’t care how you win, just that you’re the one at the top of the hill. This mentality is probably what led to all of their wars. According to his new coworkers, Ramses’ predecessor ended up where he was because he sabotaged the team lead before him. They recommend he sleep with one eye open.
Leona has a slightly more pleasant experience on the floor. Her coworkers don’t have the same drive to destroy everyone else on the ladder with them. Thirty to forty bucks is enough for their single, studio apartment lifestyles, and they’re not going to work too hard to go places they don’t wanna go. They don’t think it’s worth it. Leona has always had ambition, but she’s also always appreciated just being relaxed and comfortable. She finds the job itself a little difficult at first. She’s incredibly intelligent, but she’s not too terribly experienced with this reality’s technology, so she makes a couple of mistakes. It doesn’t cause the company any money, but the customers wouldn’t exactly rate their visit an 11 out of 10 either. She’s entitled to the 40 an hour she was promised for today, but starting tomorrow, it will only be 39. She doesn’t care about the money, but she doesn’t like to fail, so she downloads the worker’s guidebook, the inventory specifications list, and several technical manuals for the most important items in the store. She spends about $150 on this educational material, which is almost all the money she made during her four-hour shift.

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