By Connie Willis
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Bean catalog: I’d like Item D2481 in passion red. Size, small. And they frequently specify color, shape, and no pets. But the number of nonsmokings seemed to have radically increased since the last time I’d done a count. I got a red pen out of my purse and started to circle them. By the time my sandwich and complex latte had arrived, the page was covered in red. I ate my sandwich and sipped my latte and circled. The nonsmoking trend started way back in the late seventies, and so far it had followed the typical pattern for aversion trends, but I wondered if it was starting to reach another, more volatile level.
I was in the stats lab at HiTek, struggling with a box of clippings on hair-bobbing. I’m Sandra Foster, by the way, and I work in R&D at HiTek. I had spent all weekend going through yellowed newspapers and 1920s copies of The Saturday Evening Post and The Delineator, trudging upstream to the beginnings of the fad of hair-bobbing, looking for what had caused every woman in America to suddenly chop off her “crowning glory,” despite social pressure, threatening sermons, and four thousand years of long hair.
Aren’t you going to tell me three things you like about me? ” I like it that you work in Bio and that it’s clear on the other end of the complex, I thought. “I like your suit,” I said, “even though shoulder pads are terribly passé. And so is red. Too threatening. ” Management said, beaming. ” Too close, in fact. I beat a hasty retreat back to my table and Gina. ” I demanded. “To the bathroom,” she said. “Meeting Survival Rule Number One. ” “Before we go any further,” Management said, and I braced myself to make a break for the bathroom in case of another sensitivity exercise, but Management was moving right along to the increased paperwork portion of our program, which turned out to be procurement forms.
Bellwether by Connie Willis