This One Time, 83

This one time I was going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it. What else should I do? It’s my job. I patrol. My orders come from pretty high up.

I work for Quality Assurance for a major global concern. I … talk to people. That’s pretty much all I do. I get them talking about what they’re happy about, what’s pissed them off, whatever they want, and I listen. And I make reports back to the home office. I guess you could call me a spy. I could try to make some prevarication, find some words to modify how you might think about that, justify it to you, or to myself, but I really don’t believe in that sort of thing. One of my pet peeves is dishonesty — when people, for the sakes of their own egos, shield themselves from the full and occasionally ugly truth.

I don’t really see the point of that. If something is broken, you want to know what and how much to the very last detail. Otherwise, how can you prioritize and figure out how to fix it? Or even whether it can be fixed?

I’m okay with being a spy. Deep down. I’m doing something important. And I like the people I talk to. In the end, I’m doing it for them. And when I’m done with them, maybe they’ll have learned something important about themselves and what’s going on in their lives.

And maybe also the global operation can move forward, too.

One of the measures I look out for is where people are on a general level of personal strength. Strength of character. Yeah, I know it sounds a bit weird. But part of the global plan is a big sweeping change, more so for some places than for others, but the impact of that kind of thing is pretty hard on people without a little depth. Everybody finds a way to be comfortable where they are even if that place is miserable. Change, even for the better, freaks people out.

It’s a secret everybody knows. And it sounds particularly stupid. But it’s true — some people would apparently rather die than risk being happy. It’s a mystery.

I try to gauge how well people would handle a crisis. I survey bunches and bunches, figure out what motivates them, what makes them happy, what pisses them off, what their quality of life might be and how dependent they are on that, or on their families and friends, for being able to take action, to take care of themselves and anyone else who might be in need. I try to guess how well they’d be able to handle an elephant on their trampolines. I measure compassion, generosity, resourcefulness, tendency to depression, thresholds for lashing out, for holing up, for slitting throats. Or wrists.

You might be surprised or shocked at what I have in my arsenal for getting some of those answers. It’s probably safe to say I follow different rules than most people, and if you ask me why I think that’s justified, I’ll tell you it’s because the answer is more important than a few moments of happiness. The global answer is more important than the lives of the weak people I push over the edge from time to time. The ones that survive the worst are better off for learning what their limits are, and the ones that don’t? Trust me. You didn’t want those people around. Even the ones that seemed nice on the surface. Especially the ones that seemed nice on the surface.

For all that the few people who know me for who I am and what I do tend to find me intensely evil, I’ve met a few downright monsters.

The stuff I measure determines how people jump in a crisis. It measures how well people will take care of one another when there’s no one else around to see, when there’s no hope of any other help. By measuring individuals, I measure the strength of society’s backbone. I measure the health of the human animal as a global organism. I measure survivability of the species.

And it’s pretty important that I be as accurate as possible. There’s a big rush on to move the project to the next step, but if people aren’t ready there’s a good chance the whole place will just descend into chaos. Or maybe just be harder on people than it needed to be. I might not really care too much whether particular individuals live or die, but there’s no need to be unnecessarily cruel.

In the end, I’m rooting for you guys. I’d hate for humanity to turn out, on balance, to have been a complete waste of time.


March 24, 2011 · by xalieri · Posted in This One Time  


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