Venting air from the hab’s primary window. I’m trying to let some of the moisture out, reduce the persistent condensation. It’s cold outside, so I’m wrapped in a thick top as the hab quickly cools to match. Long, sharply defined shadows tell of a bright day out there. But not a warm one.
I skipped out on a social gathering last night, something that was taking place in the northern reaches of Citadel’s metro-area. An eclectic group were out, gathered for subversive and mind bending thrills. I’m certain it would have been entertaining. But the temperature was bitter, and I didn’t want to face the night-transit back home at the end. Instead, I shouldered the burden of anti-social guilt and cranked up the hab’s heat, indulging in a warm evening inside. I put stims on the terminal, and disengaged my mind for the night.
It’s healthy to do that, I think. We can’t be all-go all the time. Well, we can, but I don’t think it allows for self-reflection, to live like that, and I feel the lack of rest can’t be good for us. Sometimes, I wonder if the people who are on permanent ‘go’ mode, are trying to make sure they have no time for reflection. No time to think about something they don’t want to think about. No time to see if they really are who they hope they are. Or know they are not.
An old manager of mine, she was someone like that. She never stopped, was never inactive. She’d be on the comms from 0600 to 0100, expecting and demanding responses at any and all hours. She lived the life of the corporate workaholic, got the credits for doing so, too, and rewarded those in her charge who did the same. I had the opportunity.
I didn’t take it.
There was a meeting, once, four people in a room, huddled around a small dedicated comms terminal in an austere, stark, ‘modern’ corporate office. On the other end of the comms terminal, a number of disembodied voices gathered in virtual discussion. Voice-only, for this session. Around ten countries were represented, the minds in charge of a large corporate back-office operation. I knew each of the people in the room and on the virtual end of the meeting. They are all personable, all perfectly fine to share a drink with. All seeming to live decent lives.
They were talking about cost-savings. The CEO, a hugely wealthy and influential man, one with access to government leaders, had announced a 500 million credit savings push for the shareholders. The corporation now had to find that saving, all so that the rich shareholders could get much, much richer.
In this discussion, a number of cost-saving initiatives were considered and planned. Emotionless decisions were made, future corporate structures and projects were outlined. Automation of roles and implementation of robotic analysis were agreed upon. The day-to-day impact of these decisions was that the bulk of the back-office workforce would have to work harder, with less resources, to do jobs that should require more people. Longer hours. Higher demands. Less time to think. More to do.
There was no way, none at all, that the majority of the back-office staff in that organisation, numbering in the thousands, maybe even the tens of thousands, were not about to have their lives made harder; less pleasant. And a lot of this vast workforce was known at least to some degree by the people in this room, making these decisions. They knew they were making other people’s lives worse, people they knew, and they knew the reason they were doing it. And they carried on.
It made me feel sick.
It was the day I truly realised that I needed to get out of the industry. I never wanted to become someone who, for the personal rewards of credits, would make the lives of people who I supposedly ‘led’, worse. All so that hugely wealthy people could get their three percent share-growth. It’s not the only company out there that making these strategic moves. These are not the only people making these choices.
I wonder how many of those otherwise decent people, in that meeting, are working their impressively long and hard hours to avoid thinking about themselves. Surrounded by the comfortable trappings of their expensive and successful lives, I wonder if they are avoiding that moment of reflection, by never stopping. Never having to think about who they have become and the choices they made to get there.
I think of it as the career in which I failed. But I’m not sure that I did.