Chapter 8: Money Isn’t Everything

Don was surprised to discover just how much he enjoyed working at FutureSims Labs. His daily tasks were so varied he never had enough time to get bored. The money was also a big plus.

After his first day, he realized that one day’s pay at FSL was as much as an entire week of working at Burners and Builders. Money wasn’t everything, but it was nice to have some again. Wearing a lab coat, gloves, and goggles added to the appeal, as did his name badge which gave him access to certain areas of the lab. He didn’t mind being known by his badge identification, T-56742746.

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At the end of his first week, Don handed Johnny a hundred Simoleon bill. “Here’s for room and board,” he told the surprised Johnny.

“You don’t need to give me so much, Don,” Johnny protested.

“Yes, I do,” Don replied. “It’s the least I can do, so take it.” Johnny took the bill and tucked it away, mumbling thanks.

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Don gladly developed a new routine. He was happy when his alarm went off at 0700. After months of being in the dark, dingy trailer, getting up and going felt great. Johnny had received a promotion and arrived home in the late hours, and Don tried to be quiet as he got ready for work. He showered, put on his awesome lab coat, gloves, and goggles, and then teleported to the Labs, arriving about half an hour early to enjoy breakfast at the FutureSims Cafe.  The barista, known by her badge ID, Staff 39937,was a friendly barista, and Don quickly became friends with her. He found out she traveled all the way from Windenburg, a place Don had never heard of before.

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“You’ll learn that almost everyone here commutes. It’s no big deal with FutureSims’ technology,” Moira (B-39937) told him after he expressed his surprise at the distance from Windenburg to the Labs. “My commute is about average. How long did it take you to get here?” To Don, it seemed only a minute or two. “That’s how long it seems to me, too. Windenburg is a great place but I like working out of town. FSL pays better than South Square Coffee.” Don nodded in agreement; the pay was really good–and so was the work environment.

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Assigned to tend the lab’s gardens, Don learned quickly. Watering and harvesting the herbs and vegetables in the humid, sunny greenhouse was pleasant, and after a while he found himself conversing with the plants. “Your gardening skills have really improved,” noted his supervisor, T-25436, one afternoon. Don smiled to himself and carefully continued grafting a cutting of a dragonfruit with a snapdragon. Later that day, returning from his break Don asked T-25436 what the odd-looking plant locked behind the security gate was.

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“It’s called a ‘cow plant,’” she answered. “Have you tried the essence ice cream at the cafe?” Don hadn’t. “Well, it can change your mood. It’s something we are developing here with the Culinary Division. Right now, the cow plant can get a little grumpy if it’s hungry, but we’ve been working on a more docile hybrid. Your badge won’t allow you inside, but if for some reason you do get in, do not take the cake.” She paused. “If you are interested, though, I can speak to the Assistant Director –“

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“I’m quite happy with my job, but thank you for thinking of me.” Don glanced a bit worriedly at the bobbing head behind the enclosure. “I think I’d better get back to Greenhouse 47.”

“That’s fine,” T-25436 replied. Ned, I mean AD-942536, is looking for a new cow plant caretaker, but I think he has found someone. At least I think she’s still around. Anyway, If you change your mind, I’ll be happy to recommend you.”

Don thanked her again and hurried back to the greenhouse. The Labs were an amazing place to work even though some of his co-workers disappeared from time to time. Don figured it was best to avoid becoming a test subject and that might be to refrain from volunteering for anything extra.

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