The Mechanic - A fable in six parts: Part Two
|Mussel-eaters, debora Ewing|
"Yo, get me that hyperstereoscope...no, the other one," bellowed a mechanic who had a cigarette in his mouth and a tiny screwdriver stabbed into the drone's foot. Ashes fell between metal joints. "That can of air, too, heh. Thanks, Yo." Compressed air blew the ashes into the workspace - reprehensible by work chain terms.
"Whaddaya think caused the glitch? You think he's trying to get out of work?" The other mechanic laughed at his own joke.
"We better watch it or he'll be after our job next!" The mechanics congratulated each other on their excellent humor while the drone watched his foot being disassembled: small screwdriver, larger screwdriver, hyperstereoscope to look inside and see whether the damage warranted further disassembly.
"I don't think we need to replace the pad. Yo, take this cover and bang it back into shape." The mechanic removed the drone's skin and handed it to Yo. "Now," he said to the drone, "let's see what's going on inside your head, eh?" He slid the probe end of the scope through the drone's terminal port. It tickled where brushing against certain sensors, but the drone knew he shouldn't twitch.
"Yeah, I see yer getting a bit dusty up in the noggin," the mechanic said, and he blew compressed air through the terminal port. "Let's see if that clears you up a bit." He huffed himself up off the bench and lumbered to the far worktable. That's when the drone slid the small screwdriver between the joints of his arm.
Slowly, over the course of two years - he couldn't keep injuring himself without being permanently removed from the work chain - the drone observed which tools were the most useful, and the easiest to hide. He even managed to squeeze a hyperstereoscope under his chest-plate unnoticed.
When a colleague experienced a simple glitch, the drone would endeavor to fix it himself rather than pushing the maintenance call button. Sometimes he'd repair his colleague with a part he removed from himself.
His team learned to come to him for repairs, and production improved more than slightly. They slept well at night, taking comfort in the knowledge that they looked out for each other. Surely they would earn more Productivity Awards.
Human mechanics rarely visited their division anymore. The drone Mechanic learned how to wake up in the night and create more tools using scraps that fell from conveyors. However, due to sleep deprivation, he was less accurate during his shift, and caused a glitch in the work chain. This time, his colleague had to push the maintenance call button, and the Mechanic was taken away to the Shop during daylight.
"Meh, this bastard again. Ain't seen you in a while, eh?"
Further reading: Here's the story of my piece, The Mussel-Eaters.