In the Daytime, Pilot was posted to the Computer Store.
Pilot felt there was something he was supposed to do here that had long been programmed. He wasn’t sure what this was, but he was sure it was Important. At first he was asked to do several different things but none of these things made a great deal of sense.
For instance, he was charged with unpacking, testing and repacking components. Components arrived wrapped in plastic with special coatings made of bubbles, immersed in foam perfectly formed inside cardboard boxes, that arrived by delivery on large brown trucks. Once Pilot had repacked them, they had shed their cardboard and plastic and foam wrappings and were locked in place into metal cabinets that were screwed in place and plugged into The Wall. The metal boxes were called Computers, and they sat all night humming and glowing making quiet solitude with themselves.
Another task he was asked to do was Inventory. This involved writing down how many of Every Thing the Computer Store had. There were a surprising number of different Things, for although the Computer Store wasn’t large many of the Things were small. For instance, here were several Books and Tapes about Computers, and Software and Business. There were hundreds of Floppy Disks, a sort of magnetic Media, as well as Toner plus Printer Ribbons, etc. There were Chips and Cables and Buses. There were several styles and makes of Computers and Monitors and there were Printers and Disk Drives and Projectors, as well. It was enough to make your head spin, if it could!
One day, Pilot stayed late because Dorothy, who ran the Computer Store, had a meeting with a Client, and George was staying late as well to wait for her. They were waiting for Dorothy because it was Management Dinner Night and the three of them planned to go out to a Restaurant after Dorothy’s meeting. Pilot sat alone in the front of the store at his sleek Olivetti terminal. Meanwhile, George was ensconced in one of the rear offices, Reading. The Computer Store was quiet, the sliding glass entry closed and locked, the warm grey carpet cleaned by Pilot using the Vacuum Cleaner, and presently absorbing all slight sounds from the now-quiet workaday street outside and the soft hum of overhead fluorescent lights inside into a muffled near-silence inside.
Pilot loved the way the formed grey keys clicked softly under his ministrations. Charged by his energy, a curvaceous Monitor, like a Troodon’s eye from some prehistoric film; obediently winked colored symbols back at Pilot, through his holographic monitors. Pilot, of course, had long since forgotten about his own monitors, and the control panels in his pad where he rested his palms, controlling the Elevator’s movements, including the twinkling of its digital extensions on the Olivetti keyboard. He had even forgotten that all the world was first experienced by his Elevator and that Pilot himself was separate and together, ensconced inside the Elevator.
Yet something about the relationship with the Olivetti brought back ancient memories to Pilot. He could not say what, he could not say when, especially he could not say how, but somehow, something was occurring at the Computer Store. It felt like something Important. Something like Finding Home. Something that both electrified and calmed him all at the same time.
At the moment Pilot was absorbed in an analysis of Moving Inventory. This was a study that the Olivetti helped with muchly at the moment. Pilot had taken Data from the Sales System and brought it into Analysis mode where he could observe how much inventory moved, and how fast, which meant how frequently the Store sold a particular item. He was busy cross-referencing this with how much Margin of Profit each unit earned for the Store when from behind him he heard the sound of a key being inserted into the lock of the glass door. Pilot’s meditations on Margins had just come to some kind of conclusion about Ribbons when the authoritative and confident mechanical click and thump of the mechanical tumblers deactivating followed by the sound of the door sliding part of the way open on its steel tracks, halted his temporary progress. Dorothy was back. It was time to get George and go to Dinner. This was the thing he was asked to do next.