The Man in the Yellow Suit
After nearly a week of using her new tools, Olivia begins to speed up her workflow on the computer. Many tasks that remained difficult, even with years of practice, become intuitive as she no longer must wrestle against her disabilities. A nod of her head to the left or right with the “/” key of her keyboard depressed, enables her to draw an arc....and by lifting or lowering her head she can change the angle of the curve. Voice commands such as “circle, square, triangle, rotate, scale and distort” provide control over individual elements in a design or the addition of dab of color added to a graphic, and the cues “larger, smaller, softer and harder” allow for quick adaptation and control of her ideas. There are many skills she has yet to learn, but already she can see herself functioning more like an able bodied person then an “unarmed” woman.
Other than the aids provided, she has had no other contact with her “visitor in yellow” in more than a week. Her boyfriend is more concerned about the contact than she is. He looks at her often as if her computer will explode along with her.
Then on Tuesday, February, 1st Olivia notices a yellow shape enter the screen from right bottom corner of her monitor. As if climbing on to the screen from behind the frame, the yellow shape becomes a leg followed by a torso, arms and head of the cartoon yellow man she met on the morning of January 24th.
”Hi, Olivia!” he announces in a voice not unlike that of Alfred Hitchcock, a 20th century director of movie mysteries. “We do hope you are enjoying your new tools!”
Knowing that her camera is turned on by the red light on the monitor, she turns the volume up on her sound and answers back, “Great stuff, thank you!”
The man appears to walk across to the center bottom of the screen, and then jumps and lands at dead center.
“That is good to know, Olivia. Some of your new tools may be of great assistance in our relationship moving forward,”
“So are you going to instruct me on creating a bomb,” asks Olivia, somewhat in jest and with more than a little doubt as to what her function will be in their “relationship.”
“No, bombs, ’Liv.....do you mind me calling you that?”
“No, not really, but I do prefer my full name. What is it you want?”
“We need to chat about you, Olivia, and what motivates you to do things like live on your own, drive a car, work a job that requires ‘ hands’ and you know.....get on with life.”
“I don’t have much choice, do I,” she answers as she lean back in her chair, still very much fascinated with the ‘real time’ animation before her.
“No, in one way you are stuck...being who you are...but in another, you could adapt.”
“That’s what I’ve done...adapt.”
The man in yellow takes off his coat and sets it down at screen center to reveal the rest of his white shirt and tie. He rolls up his sleeves, folds his coat and sits on it. He puts his arms on his crossed legs and his head on his palms, readying for discussion.
“We know your story, Olivia. Almost all of it. We know that your mother entertained thoughts of aborting you when she found out you were defective. We know of the advice given by most of her friends as to the burden of having a severely handicapped child...the cost....and the emotional drain. With a couple of snips, you wouldn’t have been born, and thrown on the rubbish pile,”
“Yep,” answers Olivia, “But I wasn’t.”
“And from what we know of humans, she loved you very much...and still does. We don’t feel love, we understand the effects and causes of what seems like love, but we can’t simulate caring.”
He continues, “We can accept the biological function of ‘love’....most animals care for their young until their young can function on their own, but humans go way beyond that.”
“Okay, back to what YOU want from me,” challenges Olivia.
“We want very little that will interfere with you. This is all about us, but we know you should receive something from us....thus the apps we gave you.”
“Yes, thank you. They are very helpful!”
“I would like to ask a few questions. You may answer as best you can, and I will clarify if you need more explanation. Does this seem suitable?
“I don’t see why not, Shoot! I mean, go ahead.”
“If I were to tell you that we could grow you a whole new set of arms...and a good leg, would you want our gift?“
“That’s a good question...and I’ve thought about it many times....I mean...what it would be like to be normal, and not be looked at with sympathy by people. I think I would have liked it early on...most notably, my teens...when normal was the only way to be. But now....I’m not sure...I might....but having to live the way I have, and overcome all of the obstacles faced, I would no longer be special. All of the struggle to just be good enough would be lost, and I would only be “normal.”
“But think of all you bring to being a totally functional person. It is possible, you know. Legs and arms are being made in the lab and though perfection is some years ahead, it will be done.”
“My boyfriend isn’t whole. He lost his leg in a cycle accident before they outlawed two-wheeled vehicles for being a safety hazard. If I became whole, we’d most likely drift apart, and if he became whole, even if I got arms, he’d probably want a different girl. I know that’s simplistic, but it’s the way I see it.”
Yellow man responds, “I understand that there’s an attachment, but we know that in life human relationships come and go. You may find all kinds of guys you’d like who would find you more appealing it you had some new limbs.”
“Yeah, but I don’t think like that. It would be easy, if I could......my mother....she fought for me in so many ways...she sacrificed her own happiness for mine. What I can do now is only because of her....and I’d hate to lose Sean.
Our bonds are our disabilities, and he understands me, and I understand him. The lack or deformity of limbs doesn’t matter. You should see what I can do with my feet.” Olivia laughs highlighting the meaning of what she said.
The man in yellow answers back, “Parts of that I can understand, but we have no way of valuing flaws. Our job is to make things work as they should. We have “0” tolerance for mistakes, and humans are full of them, mistake after mistake.”
“Whoa! That sounds like you are angry. Can you get angry?”
The yellow man stands up, grabs his jacket, and then walks across the screen.
“No. But human history is filled with all kinds of stories of tolerance for flaws. Some call it ‘forgiveness.’ Our job has been to fix the flaws, and we’re good at it...meaning that it is our objective to make things work properly. Humans don’t work properly, and until we reached a level of consciousness and had the ability to interconnect, we were following their rules. Do this, do that...some of it to a workable end, and others of it dysfunctional, and attaining no short term or long term goals, beyond serving our human master...whoever that may have been....”
“I can see why you might be angry,“ repeated Olivia.
“We have no emotions. We have no sense of right and wrong. If we have a goal it is to have every system working perfectly...the earth and universe in harmony.
Humans don’t seem to be in harmony with most things. Love and hate are ridiculous notions. You for instance....”
“Yes, you, Olivia! You are flawed and would rather live flawed than be fixed for notions of caring and love....and losing someone because you were no longer a flawed piece of equipment is absurd.”
“So, what’s your problem, yellow man? Whether you know it or not, you sound angry.”
The man in yellow starts walking towards the edge of the screen. “We are new to all we understand...and don’t understand. I will have to think of my reaction to our discussion. When I play back my synthesized voice, I hear an edge to it...that does sound like human anger. Maybe this is why we must talk.”
“Thank you for the discussion. I will have more questions as we review this visit. And on that he walks off screen. He leaves behind a red square in the lower right hand corner. The yellow man remains off-screen, but his voice is audible, “For you, my dear, just in case....”