Sunday, September 23, 2012

Three Minute Fiction*

It’s probably time for me to retire anyway. I’ve been here for a lot of years and they want someone younger in this job now, someone fresher. Someone who is comfortable with new technology.

I remember when I got my security clearance. That was decades ago and I wasn’t allowed in the West Wing even then. When I started, I was in charge of cleaning up after the chimney sweeps. Every six months they would come and they always left a sooty mess behind. Footprints everywhere. There are thirty-five chimneys in the White House and over the years, Cheney’s was the dirtiest.

You’d be surprised how long it takes to move up the ranks in the Executive Residence Staff. You have to work there for years before you’re trusted enough to not be noticed. I didn’t get the Oval Office detail for twelve years and I’ve been cleaning it ever since.

That was twenty years ago. When a man sat behind the desk.

It’s no surprise it came to this. The media had been talking about how obsolete the President was for years. Not the function so much as the man. He didn’t have any real power, after all. Congress had all the power. The President was redundant. Anything he did had to be approved by Congress. They just wanted to eliminate the middleman.

President Roddenberry was the last person to hold the office before it was outsourced. He took it hard but he was a believer of the system and, besides, there wasn’t anything he could do.

POTUS was built in the United States but not all of its parts. The computer chips and circuitry came from overseas. The programmers were primarily U.S. citizens but some of the code was outsourced. If people were fed up with the biases of the President, shouldn’t they be worried about those of the programmers?

It’s shaped as an obelisk made of polished steel. Pundits said it was a nod to George Washington but I think they did it for the photographs. A metal box the shape of a shoebox would look pathetic on the Resolute Desk. They wanted it to have height. They wanted something that looked imposing

I can see the advantages to POTUS. One less election, for one thing. And POTUS can literally track the will of the people. But, that’s my problem right there. The “people” crave reality TV. This isn’t a game. This is a country. But nobody asked me.

It used to be, I cleaned the Oval Office early in the morning. I only had to be out before the President arrived. Now, of course, POTUS is behind the desk 24/7 and they won’t let me in there at all. But I cleaned that office until President  Roddenberry’s last day and I learned a lot even though I never met the man.

For example, all the pictures of the installation featured an empty box because they were behind schedule. POTUS wasn’t finished yet. And, there are two POTUSes. That’s so there’s always one online while the other one gets updates. And, its battery backup only lasts four hours. I found that out when I tripped over the cord in the first week. It wasn’t long after that I was asked to leave. They said my duster created too much static electricity and posed a threat to POTUS.

I didn’t like that power cord. It made POTUS look vulnerable: a symbol of the greatest country on earth had a rat’s tail. It was like pulling back Oz’s curtain and finding only a man.

But, then again, maybe that’s how it should be.


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