“Jorge, come in here.” The voice comes from dihtere’s office, soft but confident.
Jorge stretches as he gets out of the chair. He pulls his arms behind his head and then cracks his knuckles before heading in to see the dihtere. As he leaves, his cubicle’s border turns grey, indicating he’s in a meeting.
The office is barely large enough to fit Jorge. It consists of a desk, on which rests his department’s dihtere. Developed by the Miles Corporation and Water Concern, this model, the Dihterematic version 2.1 was, according to the marketing materials, “A dream come true for ruling and controlling a department.” It consisted of a black box, the CPU, and a speaker about the size of a plate. Newer versions put the setup inside an animatronic humanoid figure. This older model, though, was just a speaker on a box. The speaker didn’t even have a protective case anymore and was littered with dust.
“You can have a seat.”
When the dihtere talks, there’s a lighting strip which blinks along with the syllables. Or there should be—the lights on this one burnt out years ago.
Jorge looks around and says, “Um, there aren’t any cha—”
“Great. I hope you’re comfortable.”
Jorge just shrugs.
“Jorge, I see you have been with the company for six years.” The speaker is so loud it distorts the sound. Jorge looks for a volume button on the sides of the box but can’t find anything.
“And you have been given a raise each year,” the dihtere continues.
“Unfortunately, you have not been promoted in that time. And are still a level A-siphoda employee.”
“I’m happy with what I’m doing. Honestly, I haven’t looked to move anywhere.”
There’s a beat before it responds. “That is good to hear.” Another five seconds go by before it continues. “We are going to need you to take a pay cut, as we cannot justify your salary at your level.”
The box shoots out a hologram projection which shows a graph. The projection is fuzzy, with wavy lines running through it. The graph lists salaries for Jorge’s position in the company, in the area, and on the planet. Next to all of that is a bar representing Jorge’s salary—it’s slightly taller than the other bars.
“As you can see here, Jorge, you are making about five percent more that the upper twenty percent in your position.”
Jorge squints his eyes, taking in the chart. “I mean, is that accurate?”
“This updates constantly. Our database compares employee salaries in this manner every minute throughout the day. When someone hits this threshold”—as the speaker explains, a line appears at the top of the graph and slightly cuts Jorge’s bar off at the top—“we have to recalibrate their salary.”
“I don’t get it—last time I was in here, you praised my numbers and said I was a top performer.”
“And we will continue to expect that output. However, we do have to realign your salary based on the market. You do believe in the market, don’t you, Jorge?”
Jorge fidgets, but concedes, “Yes.”
“And so you know, the market is correct. And if you are breaking the market, it’s kind of like you are stealing from us.”
“I don’t see—”
“Now we know you wouldn’t want to steal from us,” the speaker interrupts. “You’re a good guy. And we want you around for years to come. Just at a salary which reflects market values.”
“Right, but when you hired me you were paying me below market value.”
“Well, we are sorry but that comes down to what you negotiated. It has very little to do with us.”
Jorge hangs his jaw open and then says, “I can’t tell if I’m more angry or confused right now.”
“Wonderful. We here at MK Ultra Pet Supply Depot Incorporated do have a heart. So instead of cutting your salary all at once, we will diminish it by five percent a month for the next three months. That should bring—”
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