We had to drink it ourselves to work there, trading some part of ourselves in for the machines of industry. The bodmodders came to our cafe to get their whale oil fix mixed with espresso. Doppio Con Brava, or Cinnos with oil frothy from hot steam. We had to belike the customers to work there or we’d never know whether the oil had soured. I guess I never thought, growing up, I’d ever be mortgaged to a company for replacement parts.
My folks were management. They supported me long enough after I flunked out of grad school to believe that any job was good and there was no place for pride with some of their kids that weren’t destined for management. They even bought my first mod so i wouldnt go in debt to the company store. I had my eye replaced with a scanner so I could keep my fingers safe from the whirring gears of the oil machine. A couple months later, I had enough burn scars to give in to my boss’ suggestion. I had my fingers replaced, too. My boss was a bastard about it before I had it done. Speed was everything. Accuracy and speed. Moving bodies through the line we were expected to besmiling to the customers and working like machines. Up until midnight for the late shifters. Up again at 5:00 am for the truck loaders with hands as thick as flippers.
My mom was worried about me all redeyed and metal edged, a broken gaze when she saw me all worn out and popping the pills an oils that keep the machinery from vein rejection. I was still living with them. They tried to support me at my first job. My mom got an inner ear fix so she wouldn’t need to carry her tablet to answer the phone, and email. She got up with me early the next day, and drove me in for earlybird swing shift starting at 6:30. Line was out the door. I rushed in, clocked in, and jumped behind the whirring machines, grinding beans and keeping the oil hot and fluffy. Mom got up in line and saw us working. Tried to say hi to us, shake the bosses hand among the gears of the city. Boss didn’t even look up. Her hands weren’t any good for shaking anymore. Too much happening on the screen to stop and chat. I tried to introduce my mother to my boss, and my boss wouldn’t even say hello and look my mother in the face. Got home that night and we didn’t talk about it. It isn’t the life she wanted for me, but she couldn’t say anything about it because it was the life I had. She just looked at my hands funny sometimes and saw my burned, oily, steel fingers like they were an infection. I was too tired to say anything about her implant. I was just too tired.
There’s an implant I can buy so I can turn my sleep cycle on and off. I’ve almost got enough saved up. Trying to do it without anymore debt. Maybe I’ll get my feet next, instead My feet hurt all the time.
And they come all day to drink whale oil and espresso. Work hard. More machine than man, in debt for the mods that pay off debts. That’s how they get you, we all say.
Go forth; be mighty, they told me once.