July 21, 2017

The Corporation

This writing was inspired by a previous essay - The Machine

It's been about four years since I joined The Corporation. June 20, 2029 I walked through The Garden for the first time, and two weeks later I was signed up.

I'd just broken it off with "the one" for the fourth time in a row, and I needed to just GET OUT of my life.

I'd seen the posts. All the beautiful photos of Freedom in the Rockies. Videos from New Catalonia. Happy people.

Like, really happy people, not the happy people we keep being sold. NO ONE is as happy as they are on Friends. So clean. Are you kidding me? I'm a shitshow. At least, I feel like it sometimes.

But The Garden wasn't a sitcom. It wasn't "Reality TV". It was fucking REAL.

And I wanted in.

Jessie had been telling me for DAYS (this is years, in your language) about how much she wanted to check out a Corporation. These places where everyone's at peace. They are surrounded by love from PEOPLE who they can actually live with, get to know, and collaborate with. At some Corporations, they only work five hours a week! I was working sixty. And yet another "partner" who wanted to be with me "forever" decided that forever was THREE FUCKING YEARS and they were done. And I was done. Fuck, I'm still mad. Sorry... these old wounds never seem to heal, even after four years... But life is a HELL of a lot better now.

I live at Corporation Outpost 3365, aka The Garden. Hanging vines, ponds filled with aquatic life, and flowers, shrubs, and fruit trees cover the grounds. Buildings are built partially underground, with the earth from beneath them forming mounds at their sides. Each home ends up with a somewhat ground-level covered deck on top and a cool and temperate underside with living quarters. Two hundred and fifty such homes have been built so far, enough for all the Owners and Contributors.

And today is a special day - I finally bought my Ownership share! I've been a Contributor since I started - the small savings I had at the time just wasn't going to get me Ownership at any of the Corps I'd ever want to live at. Sure, you can buy in to a Corp that will work you "only" 35 hours a week, but that's day in, day out for the rest of your measly existence! Or at least as long as you're wantin' food to eat. I don't much see the point of uprooting myself to get back in to the same game somewhere else with a "little less work". The Garden has a straightforward contract: Work full time for four years and you can buy Ownership status. Some people don't. They take the money and use it to re-join the other world. And I can see why; living here is a real change. It can't be for everyone. I've heard stories of control freaks who go CRAZY because there's no one willing to be bossed around at most Corporations. The whole point was to get away from all that.

So you can work full time for pay for as long as you'd like. We need the Contributors! It helps boost our numbers because Owners are the real expense we're always trying to find new ways to fund.

Okay, I realize this is all pretty new so let me recap - The Corporation is owned by The Owners. Duh. Each Owner owns a single share. Owning a share in The Corporation grants you a pretty favorable contract, where the Corporation provides basically everything you need (as clearly defined in the addendums), as long as you remain an Owner "in good standing" who works 10 hours a week on some pretty cushy maintenance and development jobs. Meanwhile us Contributors (well, FORMER CONTRIBUTORS I should say!!) bust our asses washing floors, doing laundry, and some other less than desirable tasks. I mean, I shouldn't say it's only Contributors doing this stuff - EVERY Owner has got to pull at least six months on the job in rotation with every other Contributor, no matter how much money they've got - but anyway that's how the work is split.

And you know what? I'm taking two weeks off. Well, technically they just don't have a post for me for two weeks, but then I'm going to be "Ag Tech Level 1" - Aka I'm a rookie farm bot watcher.

The Corporation uses six vertical farms to feed the over 400 people who live at The Garden, all on site. They're maintained and improved by Owners who start off basically monitoring blinking lights - I swear it's some kind of torture - until they get familiar enough to repair them, install new ones off site, or design upgrades and mods that let us offer more shares.

Oh, yeah, I should explain shares. The Garden was started as an independent Corporation (we usually just say "The Corporation") that was originally a wholly owned subsidiary of Megacorp. The original Owners bought their shares from Megacorp at $200k apiece, and collectively The Owners control The Corporation - though Megacorp maintains veto rights on major decisions. Owners get the previously mentioned contract with The Corporation - food for life, a house, medical services, a pretty relaxing job, and full access to the grounds - which at The Garden are incredible. The Owners collectively work to expand the capacity of The Corporation, moving towards fractional splits where new shares are divided from the old ones and sold - bringing in more money. There's also an overproduction factor that is carefully controlled to balance profits from sales of excess goods on the open market and sales of new shares. Some Corporations rely almost entirely on open market support, but the ones that rely most on expansion seem to do the best.

Through the original bylaws of each Corporation it starts, Megacorp bleeds off some profits to fund the expansion of the overall network, and will use that at times to provide relief when another Corporation is having difficulty. Internally we vote on any changes to our contribution levels to Megacorp, but so far it's all been good. When New Catalonia was hit with a massive storm, we voted in just a couple of hours to ship out as much of our supplies as we could manage - and with the help from a few other partners, New Catalonia came out of it alright. We stand by our partners, and they stand by us.

Anyway - Ag Tech Level 1 - a fucking bot watcher. I won't even be allowed to TOUCH the bots if something is wrong, I've got to contact an Ag Engineer WHICH I SHOULD BE BY NOW if their stupid tests weren't wrong. I washed fucking dishes for TWO YEARS just to get the librarian job so I could study how the bots work. And they're putting me on bot watch? Ridiculous. A friend gave me his old tests and I passed them without issue. But they say "everyone starts out on bot watch" which is OBVIOUSLY BULLSHIT.

So I get two weeks off. Then I watch lights blink for five horrible weeks, and then I'll officially have their permission to pass their tests.... to get to Ag Tech Level 2. UGH sometimes I hate this place. I mean, I think I hate every place sometimes. But Ag Tech Level 2 gets to work on robots alongside an Engineer; you learn the ins and outs, take some tests, and voilĂ  - AG ENGINEER.

I can petition to take the tests two weeks after I start Level 2, so in nine weeks that will be me. It's good too; I read the books, I know the issues. They need me. This place sold 20 memberships this year, which they thought was a big fucking deal - but I know we can do more. We're running the bots too slow, and with a few changes to the railing between adjacent farms we can better divide out the work when bots break. Rather than taking down an entire farm when a shuttle bot goes down and repairing it on the line, we can roll it off the tracks and send in back ups from other farms. Slow them all down five or ten percent instead of taking one of the six farms down and losing sixteen percent capacity. Now, sure, most bot failures don't really result in any material losses because the plants are just sitting there growing most of the time. But last month we lost an entire chain of bots RIGHT in the middle of harvest, and a whole batch of peppers had to be harvested by hand. Those workers were supposed to be erecting the new dormitory to make room for a whole load more Contributors, and instead they're climbing up ten stories of rigging to get all these damn peppers out. Insane. The original designs for the farms had them linked with rails, but the idiots in the planning committee thought that would be a waste of walking space. They laid concrete instead of steel and there's no railing between the buildings. Rip out those paths and an honestly useless fountain, throw down some steel, and I'm telling you we can work these bots harder and bleed less when they fail.

So like I said, they need me.

For now though, I'm headed to a barbecue at Main building. My friends are throwing a party for me now that I'm an Owner, and I'm treating them all to a little champagne the Corporation granted me. Janet says we're going to watch horror movies. I just wanna get high and cuddle with everyone under the stars. I did it!!

To discuss this writing, please see the companion post on reboot.love.