Wednesday, July 6, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: May 3, 2398

Mateo and Heath aren’t about to leave just yet. It will be at least another week, possibly two. They’re pretty sure they’re going to do it, but they don’t want to jump into anything without thinking it through. They’re going to need a little time to plan out some kind of itinerary. Until then, Mateo is going to continue to study at the library. Today, Angela is there for a different reason, which is to become a volunteer. She doesn’t have a degree in library sciences, so she isn’t seeking a paid position, and it doesn’t bother her much that her alternate self is paying her way now, so this should work out just fine. She isn’t worried that they’ll reject her, but she still wants to look nice, and be professional. She’s wearing a slightly frilly blouse, gray jacket, and a matching gray pencil skirt. Though, they call that last one a slimmy here, which probably doesn’t sound funny to the natives.
As the hour approaches, she finds herself to be more nervous than she should. She knows the librarian, Madam MacDougas pretty well, and they seem to have a good rapport, but now that she thinks about it, she’s never interviewed before. Before she died, she wasn’t allowed to have a job. She was always expected to meet a nice white man, and let him take care of her financially—preferably someone with lots of slaves, since they add to the profits, but not the overhead—while she handled the housework. When she was on track to become a counselor in the afterlife simulation, she was just promoted when it was time. Her past actions were enough to prove that she was ready for the responsibility, and if they had not been, the people in charge would have simply waited until they were.
Mateo senses her anxiety. “You. Are. One of the wisest, and kindest people I know. You may be the best. You’re gonna do great.”
She smiles. “Thanks.”
“I’ll be in philosophy. You remember where that is? It might be on the test.”
“I’ll see you later, Mateo,” Angela says. She breathes, and prepares herself. Then she walks over to the counter, where Madam McDougas is opening her daily computer programs. “Do you have time to talk?”
Madam McDougas stops what she’s doing, and places her hands on her lap. “It’s about time.”
Angela looks at her watch. “You just opened.”
“No, I mean it’s about time you asked me for a job.”
“How did you know?”
“You’ve been spending most of your time recently scanning the shelves, and taking notes. I gathered that you were familiarizing yourself with the organization of the books, instead of studying the subjects inside. You haven’t cracked a book in three days.”
“Oh. That’s quite observant of you. Well, I don’t need a job. I just wanted to donate some of my time.”
“Are you sure? We do have a couple of open positions.”
“I’m not qualified for such things. I just like learning.”
“Maybe we could work something out. What if I took a look at your résumé?”
Angela grimaced.
“You don’t have one of those, do you?”
“My past is...complicated.”
Madam McDougas nods. “Like Azad Devi.”
“I don’t know who that is,” Angela apologizes, hoping to God that it is the name of a person, though.
“Hm. You could stand to read a little more fiction. If you’re only a volunteer, you’ll have time for that.”
“Anything. Shelving, cleaning; I’ll do whatever you need...except teach fiction. Where I grew up, such media was scarce.”
Madam McDougas nods. “Some cults are more complicated than others. I don’t need to hear the details.”
That’s a good thing to know, that people might stop asking questions if you lead them to believe that your religion of origin was obscure, and limiting in bizarre ways. Yeah, that’s it. She didn’t know that pencil skirts were called slimmies because she was raised in a sheltered environment. That makes sense. She’ll have to remember to pass this advice on to the others. They just don’t want to be too specific, or claim a lie that can be too easily refuted. “I appreciate your understanding,” Angela says, neither confirming, nor denying, Madam McDougas’ assumptions.
“It will help to know more about what you know. Do you have any experience in a library, or an educational setting?”
Yes, actually. There were plenty of such facilities in the afterlife simulation. If someone at a higher level wanted to know something, they could just ask, and an answer would come. For the rest, some of the more fortunate strongly believed that they still deserved whatever education they desired, so they built places of learning. Limiteds and Basics were especially fond of these constructs, but they weren’t the only ones in need. Level 3 Hock prisoners were mostly stuck in their cells and cell blocks. Having access to the means of expanding their knowledge was fundamental to maintaining their sanity under sentences of centuries, or even millennia. Angela felt honored to help them through that in this way, and this attitude is part of what promoted her to higher levels in the first place.
“I’ve volunteered at libraries before, and for continuing education programs.”
Madam McDougas is pleased with this answer. “That’s all I need to know. We already have plenty of volunteers, so I don’t have anything specific to assign you. Why don’t you go meet with Doug, and see what he might have for you to do.”
“Thank you for this opportunity,” Angela says graciously.
“Thank you,” she echoes.

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