CH. 56 «Scavengers of Space, Martian Day-Workers, and Me»

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Deep in space, in the farthest reaches of our solar system, parsecs from the path of any arbitrary passerby, they work in secrecy–for the most part. Salvage ships and their crews of retrievalists operate all the time, searching for lost wrecks and hidden treasures–fair game to anyone who can find and claim them according to admiralty law. It’s rare that one finds anything denoting any significant wealth, mostly they uncover fishing vessels and cargo wrecks, or the occasional historical crash that’s been discovered and stripped already, or would need to otherwise be catalogued and reported to the historical society of whichever planet it made harbor.

But some fortune seekers, with enough super-sonar and searching equipment to locate any of the casually drifting space junk that might be worth while, catch the break of their lives and find themselves a big haul. They have to keep the coordinates of these troves hidden from the public and the other scavengers of space, lest their riches slip into someone else’s greedy clutches–or worse, fall into the hands of the state.

Space Scavenger is the more romantic nickname given to these private treasure salvors. The monikers with less positive connotations attached are Treasure Hunter, Opportunistic Vulture and Space Pirate–though that one’s not to be confused with the real buccaneers of the stars, who don’t wait until the rocket explodes before they loot it’s riches, and often leave behind the aeronautical carrion for the bottom feeders to pick through.

It could quite possibly be one of the most lucrative, and thankless, job opportunities one could become entangled in. Not to mention that one can find employment anywhere–well, anywhere shipwrecks accumulate. Mars just so happens to be one of those places immersed in such debris fields; orbits abounding with so much slagged junk sinking in from the Main Asteroid Belt. Not to menetion itself having a bustling, wasteful population that keeps it just a bit messier around here.

Another profitable occupation readily available around these parts (which also receives a terrible deal of negative wrap) is that of the day laborer. Sneaking across the Amazonian border to line up before the crack of dawn at your local hardware store. Or whichever place rents moving vehicles and containers in your town, awaiting hire for whatever menial task imaginable that you might have in store for them. Confidently, they bumble through whatever that assignment is. They may have even had to do that specific task a number of times before and at least you get yourself a half-ass job done.

Lounging around lazily in the early afternoon hours in whatever shade they can find, whistling and catcalling every young school girl that passes by, and generally disturbing the locals, who are always refined and more indoctrinated to the appropriate customs of the north. Every workweek ends with the Martians taking home mounds of cash paid to them under the table with no taxable accountability. They subsequently wire back to whatever family they left behind in whatever crater they came from since they’re not even part of the Earthling nation’s social security scheme.

You see where I’m trying to go with this, very toxic appraisal of these drudges, but its only because that’s the opinion generally held by Earthlings and Amazonians. I’m aware it seems mostly ignorant, but I know better; I used to work along side a hard working bunch of Mercurians and maybe a Venusian, but I still learned about the more transient, Martian Day-Workers. Granted, it was still from appraisals of somewhat biased sources.

I worked for my dads anti-gravity pool company on Earth and most of his employees were illegal aliens who sent back their hard earned bills to territories with currencies even weaker than our nation’s own credit. Even they hated Martians, and despised any one weak enough to mistake them for such.

I learned quickly to give anyone who seemed to have features of any Ionian nation the benefit of the doubt, and first assume their heritage didn’t lead back to the crater hovels, squalid suburbs, or messy metropolitan streets of Martia. But even that was bigoted in a way, a sort of reverse-racism that only ended up making a certain ethnic group more undesirable in the favoring of every other similar variety of human. Although it seemed an appropriate prejudice to keep given the time we were in–like in ages of past where everyone hated and tried to kill of all the Davidians, or thought anyone with any Neptunian blood was in someway savage or inferior. Or all those surly, violent Amalthean immigrant with their red hair and extra pointy ears. Popular opinion didn‘t posses as much validity as it came across as having.

Of course, following certain outright attacks against the Earthling Nation on our own soil (which did also involve commuter rocket flights destined for Mars), the focus of our national spite has been redirected at people from the Middle Belt. One morning, hating on asteroid folk began to trend and suddenly Martians were cosmo for the first time in a century. They weren’t founded under religious systems too dissimilar from our own after all, they do believe in the same god and all, right? I’ll save the theological debate for some other time. Digressing: the general view of the indigenous population of Mars quickly became a little more favorable.

Ok, enough of the slanderous libel and speculation, you people want facts. Of what I know that is true: traditionally, Martians wake up at an obscene hour of the morning to get a early start on the day and beat the sun’s heat for a little while. They take an extended lunch break to feast on their largest meal of the day and rest a short while to prepare for putting in another long set of hours, with no aversion to snag a few extra on top or the extra credits that comes with it. Then they go home to their families for dinner and turn in at a reasonable enough hour get up before the crack of dawn and do it all over again the next day.

Minus the mandatory siesta, customs of the people from Mercury and Venus (at least, the people that I know) aren’t too different from those of the Martians they hate so much to be associated with. They awaken early just the same, they work long hours (or find a way to work as few as possible if they can get paid on a salary),   and they exemplify cleverness, cunning and resourcefulness more than the green skinned cousins who are quite renown for such traits. This leaves me inclined to believe that some of these traditions were descendant of Ionian practices, or what was instilled by the Vincidors or Crater Missionaries many years ago.

Gork, where was I going with this? I think the point I was trying to get to was that Day Laborers make lots of bank. Any that I knew personally finished the week with six- to eight-hundred in untaxed creds, and tended to pamper themselves intensely with a bit of it. I assume they imagined Earthlings would do so, like on teli. Though they endure harrowing ridicule, withstand all kinds of conditions and environments, from perhaps hazardous to definitely dangerous, and never be accepted as good enough by Earth society; they still make more money than they can deal with.

And where do I fit in this whole thing–I was in the title, remember? Right next to Unskilled Laborers and The Less-Frequently-Employed is where I should go. As rewarding as you’d think it would be to work as a private groundskeeper, a professional photographer’s assistant and a census enumerator simultaneously; it’s not. When it comes to getting myself gainful employment, I’ve been striking out.

I shouldn’t be finding as many dead ends and wild comet chases according to the statistics, which claim employment to be getting better across the nation. But I know for a fact most of those stats have been falsely (at least improperly) generated. The decennial census jobs will disappear over the coming months, turning the briefly employed back out into the tens of thousands of people already lacking jobs. The slowly rolling wave of credits trickling out to everyone who filed a tax return has also been skewing information about ability to purchase, though any sort of small perceptible flux in spending habits will settle down after everyone’s refund and stimulus money is used up. And its not like lottery winners ever help the economy, so I doubt the few lucky enough to beat the odds are throwing everything off.

I assume it’s all political trickery and magic, attempting to revive the economy or rouse our wallets by claiming the status of things is improving well enough to warrant our investments. Go out and spend! Everyone’s trying to convince us it’s safe to get back in the money pool and splash around a bit, but it still seems a bit murky under the surface, and I haven’t seen any evidence that suggests I won’t actually get eaten alive by the sharks.

I think something needs to be said about desperate times and dirty work. I shouldn’t rule out any possibilities in my career. I wonder if it’s cheaper to buy a hover-lawnmower or an hypobaric arc welder…

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PREV: CH. 55 «Job #7»

PREV: CH. 55 «Job #7»

NEXT: CH. 57 «The Caspian Company»

NEXT: CH. 57 «The Caspian Company»



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