It was the first Monday of the new year
on the Planet Euphemista and the employees of the giant government agency, the
Center for Rules, Regulations and Protocol (CRAPP) were hard at
work. Tom Watson, a veteran employee, was as usual the first one in
his office and now he was working through his lunch time while eating a
sandwich at his desk. Watson was the acting head of his
departments technology unit, this following the retirement of the
longtime head the year before. In an ideal world, or on
another planet, where promotions were based on merit, hed have been
promoted to unit chief on a permanent basis, but on Euphemesta, as everyone
knew, all promotions were based on gender, color, sexual orientation and
insider influence. Watson, who was a middle-aged white man
therefore had no chance.
CRAPP had come into existence when the
planets central government had begun to regulate most, if not all, of its
inhabitants activities. Now it had expanded to the planets
largest agency with its tentacles reaching into every aspect of
life. Watsons department was called the Literature
Appreciation Program (LAP) and it reminded him of the government agencies in
George Orwells book 1984, its mission being, not to
enhance appreciation of books, poetry, etc. but to regulate the publics
reading of them. His Division was charged with overseeing
Earth literature 1900-2050. Needless to say, Orwells
book was among those banned.
rang. It was his Divisions head, Ruby Watanabe, asking
him to come to her office. What did she want? he
wondered. He hoped it was not another rush project, like a
re-evaluation of Hemingways work in view of new revelations about his
personal life. Watanabe motioned him to a seat in front of
her desk, a large one covered with books. She was a tall,
imposing black woman who might have obtained her position through the
decades-old temporary Job Fairness Law, but had worked hard to obtain the
skills and knowledge to hold it. She looked up from her
papers and said, Im going to recommend that you be promoted to
permanent chief of the Tech Unit.
Watson was shocked.
But Im a middle-aged white man, he said.
You know theres no chance.
Well see about
that. Anyway, youre doing a fine job and I wanted to
let you know.
You might get into trouble with
Ill take my
Well, thank you.
Keep up your good
work. The Promotional Committee meets
Friday. Ill let you know.
At home that night Tom Watson told his
wife Mary the good news, or, at any rate, the possible good news.
That would be nice, said
Mary. If you get the promotion maybe we can send the
girls to college. The Watsons had two teen-aged
daughters and college costs had gone out of sight.
Dont get your hopes
I think it might
happen. Mary was an eternal optimist.
Well, I hope that was the
last item on the agenda, said the chairperson of the Promotional
committee, Guy Fortnoy, who was a bisexual. Its
been a long day. Fortnoy had a dinner date with someone
hed met on the internet whose name was Jerry. He
wasnt sure what sex Jerry was but it didnt
matter. He was anxious to get to the dinner.
Only one more, said Nancy
Passmore, the Committee secretary. The promotion to
chief of the technical unit of LAP.
The Literature Appreciation
Oh, yes, that.
Hardly important. Who reads books any
more? He laughed.
Some people do, said Ruby
Watanabe. Ive proposed that Tom Watson,
whos been acting Chief, be made permanent.
So I see. Well,
lets vote and get it over with.
Wait a minute, said Hillary
Snickersby, head of the Television Appreciation Program (TAP).
Watson is a middle-aged white male.
shocked. Hardly suitable. As we all
know, we aim for diversity. Surely, we have other
Snickersby. Theres a gay man, a lesbian and a
better. Lets hear about them.
Ruby Watanabe quickly said, The
gay man is probably posing as such to get ahead, the lesbian knows nothing
about computers and we have an overload of trans people in the
Ah, yes, said
Fortnoy. Ever since the breakthrough in sexual
transformation, transgenders have become the flavor of the month, so to
speak. So what do you propose?
I propose something radical,
said Ruby Watanabe. We promote Tom
Watson. Middle-aged while male supervisors have become so
scarce that would almost qualify as an affirmative action.
Even more radical, wed be promoting the most qualified
Promoting the most qualified
person? That is radical. Well, Its
getting late. Lets have a vote.
When he got home that night Tom Watson
told his wife the good news. Thats
wonderful, said his wife Mary. We might be able
to afford to send the girls to college after all.
If we scrimp and
manage. And who knows, maybe it will be the start of a
trend. Always optimistic.
In the capital of Euphemista, a meeting
of high-ranking CRAPP officials had ended. Oh, by the
way, the agencys head said to his secretary, bring me the
file of Ruby Watanabe.