MUSED
BellaOnline Literary Review
For Authors of Olde by Carol Dandrade

Table of Contents

Fiction


Displaced

Bill Diamond

Suzanne wanted revenge. She justified the act as a means to a greater societal good. To avoid jail, instead of acting rashly, she waited and planned.

She´d been fired from her job as a line cook at an upscale restaurant. While unemployment was an inconvenience, Suzanne was confident she would find new work. She wasn´t even that distraught about losing the position. She considered her hourly work a supplemental job to support her passion for fiction writing. Writing wasn´t enough to pay her bills, but she believed it was only a matter of time until her breakout publication.

She was primarily upset because of the indignity. The restaurant had replaced her with a robot. Not even a very bright robot. With a pleasant interface, the machine would tirelessly carry out basic kitchen functions without complaint. Suzanne knew she wasn´t the first, nor the last, person to be replaced by automation. Yet, she felt this was an invasion into a creative art where a human touch and subjective nuance was critical. In her mind, it crossed a significant line and required a political statement.

On Friday afternoon, Suzanne snuck into the worker´s entrance of the restaurant. She concealed some spoiled fish in her oversized bag. If anyone asked, she intended to explain she was retrieving material she´d forgotten in her locker. In the dinner rush of the busy kitchen, no one noticed her.

The robot was at ´her´ station preparing ingredients for the restaurant´s signature bouillabaisse. When everyone was diverted, she slipped the bad fish into the large pot. Suzanne´s research indicated it would sicken, but not seriously harm, the customers. Just enough to tarnish the restaurant´s reputation and bottom line. An act of sabotage in defense of human dignity over machines. She left the restaurant.

Returning later, Suzanne confirmed there had been a rash of food poisonings. She anonymously contacted broadcast and internet media to generate interest. Word spread virally around town.

Unexpectedly, her cyborg replacement joined her at the bus stop. Suzanne initiated a conversation. Since the robot was programmed to be friendly, they were soon chatting amiably. Suzanne was careful to avoid any indication she knew about the restaurant.

"Where do you work?" she inquired.

"Actually, I was recently hired there," the robot pointed at the restaurant. "But, I just got fired. There was something wrong with tonight´s soup. And, they blamed me."

An electrical thrill of success shot through Suzanne. Maybe this would help slow the march of people being displaced by computers. As a bus approached, Suzanne feigned empathy, "That´s too bad."

Boarding the bus, the robot turned and said, "Thank you. But, the job was only temporary. I really want to be a writer. In fact, I´ve just received some strong interest in my first novel."




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