Jack

A life as a robot can be painful.

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4. Chapter 4

Adam drove to work in a daze. It had been two weeks since the final notice on his property taxes and he still had not told his wife. “How long I can keep this from Rachel? Maybe I should just get it over with as quickly as possible. Crushing someone’s spirit is like pulling off a bandage, right?” He pulled into the parking lot of Goebbels Elementary School and glared at the mechmen putting up the new football stadium. “And there’s another project adding to my property taxes. It’s not that I don't love my students. I do! But can’t we give them an education without picking the pockets of every homeowner in town?”

 

He was still thinking about his bills later, in class. With a start, he realized that he had no idea where he was in his lecture. “Bobby!” he said, jabbing a finger at one of the third graders in the front row. “Are you paying attention?”

“Y-yes, Mr. Truman.”

“Oh, really? What did I just say?”

“You said that Democracy Day is coming up and you’re going to explain how a voting booth works.”

“That’s right. I’ll draw one on the computer screen here. Can everyone see that? Good. The voting booths are divided into two columns for the two political parties, The Wolves and The Lions.” In the back row, a freckled girl in a plaid jumper raised her hand. “Yes, Jayne?”

“Sundae Best has forty-three flavors. How come people buying ice cream have so many choices, but people voting only have two?”

Adam hadn't expected any of his students to be interested enough in the lesson to ask any questions. His Social Studies class was right before recess, so most of the kids were too excited about going outside to pay attention. “Well, Jayne,” he said finally, “most people like chocolate or vanilla, right? So that’s how we do things here. We start with two flavors that most people like, and then we have an election, where we choose one flavor for everybody.”

She frowned, confused. “But I like strawberry!”

“Ice cream is different. In politics, the majority makes the decisions.” Turning back to the computer screen, Adam continued his drawing. “Most people just vote for everyone in their party but, if you like, you can press the `Talk’ button and the voting booth will explain each candidate’s –” But the bell cut off his words. With squeals of joy, the children ran outside to the playground.

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