Washington Horror Blog

SEMI-FICTIONAL CHRONICLE of the EVIL THAT INFECTS WASHINGTON, D.C. To read Prologue and Character Guide, please see www.washingtonhorrorblog.com, updated 6/6//2017. Follow Washington Water Woman on Twitter @HorrorDC ....

Monday, April 02, 2007

D.C. Sweatshop

Laura Moreno was sitting in the ladies room at Prince and Prowling. The ladies room was her happy place, but she couldn't hide in there forever. She got up and made her way back to the Sweatshop, where they had brought in a 100 additional contract attorneys to speed through a billion pages of discovery documents in one week. She sat down at her temporary work station, massaged her achy hands with lotion, patted them dry, then pulled on her SmartGloves. She pulled up the next document on the computer screen: it was a Norwegian-language user's agreement for I-Tunes. She clicked the non-responsive tag, then clicked to the next document. It was a Portuguese-language user's agreement for I-Tunes. She clicked the non-responsive tag, then clicked to the next document, and the next, and the next--hundreds of pages of I-Tunes files. Then she got hundreds of pages of computer crap downloaded straight from a hard drive root directory. Her thumbs shrieked in pain from the clicking, even though she kept switching hands left/right and putting the idle hand on ice. She pulled out her therapeutic magnets and jammed them into her gloves.

Sitting across from Laura was Alan, an older gentleman who had recently served on a Mayor's commission; he listened to Gospel music CDs all day long. Next to Laura was Ali, an immigrant from Sudan; he did immigration law, but the clients rarely paid him, so he had to do this work occasionally. Ali told her that Darfur was in "southern Sudan" and had nothing to do with where he came from in the North. Ali also told her that it was the Somalis who were the most violent people in Africa. Next to Ali was Ruthie, an evangelical Christian from California who had only come to D.C. for a couple of years to get an "East Coast experience". Next to Ruthie was a girl that goofed off all day sending text messages to her friends, and spent her breaks in the back room sitting on a particular boy's lap; the boy was actually a divorced man in his late 20s, but chatting him up was more important than actually doing any work to earn her paycheck.

At the next table was a harried mother of two, desperate to earn money but sad that she could barely see her kids more than a half-hour before bedtime. Next to her was a former Capitol Hill staffer who couldn't find better work after his Member of Congress got indicted; he passed his days listening to intellectual Podcasts and occasionally looking at documents. Across from him was an attorney who had spent twenty years at NPR before being downsized; she was thinking about opening a flower shop. Next to her was a guy who had recently moved to D.C. and was waiting confidently on a federal job application he had put through last month; there were dozens of people just like him in the room. There were also dozens who had put through those job applications last year, or the year before, and were now facing the reality that they were trapped in a law firm sweatshop.

Bridezilla stepped into the room and immediately started fanning herself against the oppressive heat of 100 bodies trapped in a small place full of computer equipment. "We've been reviewing some of the work, and there are a few problems." A hundred defeated faces stared up at her blankly. Bridezilla didn't care which were the people causing the problems: she was going to give the lecture to all of them, together, because it was important to treat them all identically, like robots, or the clone army in "Star Wars". She didn't know that three of them had actually gotten married in the church of her upcoming wedding, or that five of them lived within two square miles of her, or that four of them had the same car she had, or that two of them had gone to the same college as she had, or that thirty of them currently had treatable diseases which had not yet been diagnosed because of their lack of health insurance, or that nineteen of them had billed more hours than she had last year but had not received a single paid holiday or day of vacation. The lack of oxygen was giving her a headache, so she wrapped up her comments quickly and left the room. Deep down she really didn't care how they coded the documents because two of her bridesmaids had just told her they couldn't afford to be in her wedding, and she had to find two new friends, so a hundred highly-educated brains went back to doing monkey work for peanuts, while D.C.'s greatest problems remained unsolved.

Three floors above the Sweatshop, former Senator Evermore Breadman was trying to wrap his own addled brain around recent developments in the Mideast. That was one thing he missed about the Senate--having a couple dozen bright minds around him to read copiously and analytically, then tell him what the Leadership wanted and what he should do. His intestine groaned ominously. Since leaving the Senate, he had yet to see a situation in which he could not make money, but he was starting to have reservations about that Condaleeza Rice. What was she up to? Why did it seem that World War III was developing from the Horn of Africa to the Silk Road while she was playing a fiddle? Some of his clients were getting nervous about their investments, and he was having trouble assuring them that everything was under control.

The ringing telephone interrupted his thoughts. "No shit!" he exclaimed, having learned that the Supreme Court just handed down a 5-4 decision against the Administration on climate change. How did that happen? Kennedy swung? He hung up the phone, pulled out a fresh piece of paper, and began writing notes on how he could make money peddling carbon trading. Then he put that piece of paper in the drawer as a back-up, pulled out a fresh piece of paper, and began writing notes on how to revive tax subsidies for nuclear power plants. His intestine convulsed, but he made sure he finished writing his notes before pausing to take his Chinese herbs. Outside his window, the flock of starlings sitting on the ledge turned their gaze from Breadman (who had just stopped thinking about World War III) over to the White House.

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