Author: Alzo David-West

The Uppers in Mazui could not understand anything Sam Tek was doing. At first, they thought the problem was cultural, but he had lived in northern Atakia for six years. Next, they thought he was inexperienced, but he had a decade of experience. Afterward, they thought he was illogical, but he was consistent, formal, and organized. Eventually, they thought he was distant, but occasionally, they saw him chatting, smiling, or laughing with others in the quadrangle. Then, they thought he was sick, but the man they knew walked straight, stood tall, and often carried a purposefully weighted sports bag.

Everything about Sam Tek was incomprehensible, and he was driving the Uppers to consternation. What was even more vexing was that Sam Tek was completely unfazed by hard looks and group pressure. He was incredibly aplomb and calm, it seemed. And he always spoke civilly, even if directly, and periodically sent courtesy messages. The whole experience was anguishing to the Uppers, but no matter what techniques they tried, Sam Tek was unruffled. He went to work, completed his hours, and went home, all the time, every time. On a few occasions, he was slow and claimed “illness” when it happened. And it was in those cases that the Uppers tried to take their revenge on him for overturning their vertical domain of obedience and command. Yet Sam Tek never buckled, and he always rebounded as if nothing had happened.

The Uppers conferred one day to urgently discuss an issue Sam Tek had suddenly been raising. He wanted to exercise his communication rights. The notion was so outlandish and bizarre to the Uppers, some of them were hyperventilating.

“Why would he think he has rights?” the First demanded.

“The Obligation says there is a right to communicate,” the Second replied.

“Yes, but that is the right of our Organic Body,” the Third said. “Sam Tek is a resident Outsider on limited-term duties.”

“That is not how he understands it,” the Fourth added. “He submitted several extensive and detailed queries citing the terms of the Obligation, seeking explanatory addenda and memoranda.”

“Unacceptable!” the First shouted. “Who does he think he is?”

“He must think he is our equal,” the Second said.

“An Outsider our equal? Outrageous!” the First declared. “The sooner we are rid of him the better!”

“But he may appeal to External if we annul our side of the Obligation,” the Fourth cautioned. “He is very purpose driven.”

“Besides,” the Second added, “has he really done anything truly wrong? If the matter is cultural as we first supposed, maybe we have been experiencing a conflict of values over the past two years and have to endure the differences for the time remaining.”

“Then what should we do about his queries to communicate?” the Third asked.

“Hard as it may be,” the Second proposed, “communicate. Have the Division parley with him until he accepts the reality.”

“Would he?” the First asked.

“In previous cases, yes,” the Fourth answered. “It was very difficult, but if we repeat ourselves over and over, he eventually resigns himself to the situation.”

“What kind of man is Sam Tek anyway?!” the First exclaimed in disbelief.

“It is the wrong question,” said the Sixth, who had been quiet all the while.

“The wrong question?” the Third remarked. “What are you saying Nbr-Ack?”

“I spend a lot of time talking with Sam Tek at my office. He is not a meanly intended person. Sam Tek is human made, and he is an android.”