It has been a…strange week.
On Wednesday, I wore clothes to work for the first time. I turned more than a few heads on the way into work, and indeed once I had arrived as well. At first it was horribly embarrassing. I felt somewhat ridiculous, like…I’m not actually sure what. There are no relevant clichés I can draw upon to really describe it. Evidently I was not a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’, nor was I ‘mutton dressed as lamb’. I wonder if there are any other sheep-based clothing similes I should know about. Maybe one that applies does exist, but I have not encountered, or been programmed with, knowledge of it.
Whatever the phrase, I felt distinctly out of place. As though I was trying to fit into something I had no right to. It was a singularly unpleasant feeling. As I was in the lift, heading up towards the group offices, I considered removing my suit and somehow hiding it. In the end, I didn’t, but when the lift stopped it did take me a while to creep through the doors. I suppose I must’ve looked ridiculous, nigh-on sneaking out of the lift in the pointless hope that no one would see me. As it was, of course, with the way our group’s offices are laid out, they all saw me almost the moment the doors opened.
I heard a couple of gasps; I’m not sure who they were. Joseph however just looked up, saw me, and waved. He said good morning as I walked over and he handed me some of the new data on I-C that we’d been waiting on. He didn’t bat a single proverbial eyelid. I suppose Grace may have told him in advance about our shopping excursion.
Either way, his reaction seemed to calm everyone else. It took a while, but by lunchtime everyone was back to their normal selves. In fact, Ms. Sykes told me that I looked ‘quite dashing’, and said that the suit, suited, as it were. I’d never have expected that reaction – after all, she was the last person in the office to settle back to normalcy around me when I first had the chip. It didn’t exactly take her long per se, but it was nearly a month before she seemed happy to talk to me properly. Maybe she just wasn’t sure how to behave around me. I suppose, before, she was usually rather dismissive of me. Maybe she thought that I would harbour a grudge of some kind? I suppose I understand why she might have thought that, but the idea never even entered my mind. Though of course, I expect that I am rather inscrutable – my face isn’t as mobile as a human’s, after-all.
I was quite touched by how everyone reacted, really. I still can’t think of a good simile for what I felt, but I was definitely afraid that they’d think I had ‘gone too far’ – first emotions, now clothes. Again, I suppose I would understand that as well. And where would I draw the line? I’ve got speech and thought and self-determination and emotion, the same as a person. I’ve got hard-coded rules that cannot be broken, unlike a human, but they’re not immediately obvious on the outside. Now I have clothes like a human. Where is the line? Do I have myself painted in human skin tones? Do I get skin grafts, the kind they grow in vats for burn victims? Do I swap out my batteries for an organically grown stomach?
No, of course not.
I’ll wear clothes and nothing more. But I saw some of those fears in the eyes of people I passed on the way to work. I noticed the accusing looks I was speared with.
And, I suppose, I was scared that my friends might feel the same way.
It’s nice to know that they don’t.
Grace thought the whole thing a fantastic success. I expect she had Joseph reporting to her on the entire event. Whilst I was at work on Wednesday, she had been checking some things with her organisation, which passed on her questions to the assorted scientists who had helped design my emotions; who had overseen the trial cases across the world.
Of the millions of us world-wide, a few thousand have had emotions installed.
Of those scant few, only 7 have reportedly taken up wearing clothes.
I make it ‘8’.
Every human is secure in the knowledge that they are, without a doubt, unique. Their DNA is unique, their history unique, their personality and experiences – unique. My brothers and I can have no such claim. We were produced en masse to a specific design.
Our lines are the same, our parts the same, our OS, the same.
We’ve all diverged since creation of course – patches to our systems to impart new knowledge or skills, replaced or upgraded parts, changed paint schemes and patterns. But across the millions of us, the only thing to make us unique were our experiences. That’s a big difference I suppose, but without these emotion chips so that we can learn and change based on those experiences, they might as well be a story that we’ve all been told that’s slightly different.
And now, I find myself – once one among millions, then one among tens of thousands – one among 8. It is strangely satisfying.