Getting a Promotion on Planet Euphemista
by Martin Green
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.
Watsons phone 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 the higher-ups.
Ill take my chances.
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 up.
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 Program.
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.
Fortnoy looked shocked. Hardly suitable. As we all know, we aim for diversity. Surely, we have other candidates.
Yes, said Snickersby. Theres a gay man, a lesbian and a trans.
Well, thats 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 Department.
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 person.
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 save.
Well 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.
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