I came back to my room one morning and found the P-phone whining faintly, like a distant, angry mosquito. I punched the message code and found that the assistant personnel director required my presence in her office at ten hundred hours that morning. Well, it was later than that already. I had formed the habit of spending a lot of time, and most nights, with Klara. Her pad was a lot more comfortable than mine. So I didn’t get the message until nearly eleven, and my tardiness in getting to the Corporation personnel offices didn’t help the assistant director’s mood.
She was a very fat woman named Emma Fother. She brushed off my excuses and accused, “You graduated your courses seventeen days ago. You haven’t done a thing since.”
“I’m waiting for the right mission,” I said.
“How long are you going to wait? Your per capita’s paid up for three more days, then what?”
“Well,” I said, almost truthfully, “I was going to come in to see you about that today anyway. I’d like a job here on Gateway.”
“Pshaw.” (I’d never heard anyone say that before, but that’s how it sounded.) “Is that why you came to Gateway, to clean sewers?”