Note: This is the first installment of a serial-style thought experiment. What would it be like to be a Joe-nobody who signed up to be a miner on distant worlds in order to work off the debt he incurred just by living in a corporatocracy? Let’s find out together, shall we? 🙂
Saturday, March 14, 2263: I did it. I signed up to be a miner offworld. It’s not like I’ve got a lot of options, right? Not with basic ed and no corporate connections. One way or another, I have to do something to pay off my dependency debt. Like Momma says, “That debt’s not going to pay itself!” Doesn’t matter much whether it’s here on Earth or somewhere else. Worse, my birthday is next week, so time is running out. I could stay here and sign with a local corp, but I don’t see the point. Not after watching Momma and everyone else I know work till they can’t work anymore.
There’s a bunch of different space corps. Stellar, Regis, Nova Nuevo… They all do the same thing. Let you sign up for a 5 to 10 year hitch so you can work off the debt everybody gets saddled with just by living. The corporations feed, clothe and care for us till we’re 18, then we have to pay them back. Unless you’re a member of a corporate family with script and connections, that means signing some kind of labor contract. Momma’s working through her third contract now. She just can’t ever seem to earn enough to get everything paid off. The nice thing about signing with one of the space corps, though, is that they pay anywhere from three to ten times as much as contracts here on Earth. My sister, Jenna, says it’s hazard pay, and that most miners never make it back to Earth, even if they do live long enough to complete their contracts. But like I said, I don’t have a lot of options, and there’s nothing to keep me here anyway. I doubt Momma will even notice when I’ve gone.
I decided to go with Icarus Interplanetary. Not really sure why I signed with them instead of somebody else. All the brochures look alike and promise high pay and lots of adventure. They also have links to disclaimer sites that charge close to a month’s worth of subsistence pay just to read through them. There’s no way I’ve got that kind of scratch, and even if I did the corps lingo doesn’t make sense to me and, worse, trying to figure it out makes my head hurt.
It might have been because the girl at the signing office for Icarus was pretty, and she treated me like I was a person and not just a prole. Yeah, she wore a fancy suit that shined with pretty colors and looked like it was made in one of those autotailor booths. Parts of it looked like it was painted on, it fit so close. I had a hard time even looking her direction at first, I was so afraid she was gonna start speaking in corporate. But she smiled and talked like a regular person. She made it sound like signing with them was the best deal for me, but she probably says that kind of stuff to everybody. It wasn’t until I left the signing office that I wondered if she had to take lessons to learn how to speak like me.
Anyway, the deed is done. I’ve sold my service to Icarus for the next five years. They even bound the contract with an implant and a binding mark on my left arm. Getting the mark didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would, and the implant means they can track me now wherever I go. And they gave me a small advance so I can get a new set of clothes before I ship out. Vendors can read the implant and anything I buy will be docked from the advance. But I don’t need much, and the last thing I want to do is rack up a bunch more debt before I ship out.
I’ve got five days to “settle my affairs” here on Earth. I guess that’s the fancy way of saying, “Say goodbye to everyone and everything you’ve ever known.” Not that I’ll need five days. The girl did say I could go to the launch center early if I wanted to. The only person I can think of who will miss me is Jenna, but part of me doesn’t want to see her before I leave. I know she won’t approve, even if me leaving will make it easier for her and Momma.
I think I’ll just head over to the clothing vend and get a new set of overalls and work shoes. Then I’ll head for the launch center. No point in making a big deal. I can always send Jenna a vid after I get settled somewhere.
To be continued…