Boy, you know what kids with grades like these end up doing?
Cleaning sex robots.
Middle school is Waterloo-time, kiddo. Your whole world gets decided here, not just by your permanent school record but by your heart. And as I’m looking over this report card, I’m seeing one thing.
You’ve got the heart of a sex robot cleaner.
You’ll ride to work every day in an old filthy bus with people going to jobs just like yours, but a tiny bit better. You won’t be in a jacket and tie but a jumpsuit, and you’ll carry your paper bag lunch into a building with no markings on the outside. Then you’ll take your station beside a stainless-steel table with a hundred other sex robot cleaners like a giant morgue.
Day after day, hour after hour, they’ll wheel in wooden crates that look like coffins, and you’ll have exactly 17 minutes per cleaning to keep up your quota. Some will take less. Some will take much, much more.
And we’re talking about a thorough cleaning. Thorough.
That doesn’t mean a once-over with a sponge before you roll her back in the crate. It means a tray covered in picks and swabs like at the dentist’s office. It means hoses of pressurized water and air to get stuff out of crevices. It means a drain underneath. It means a black light on a swivel arm so you can see every glowing spot.
You’ll snap gloves onto your wrinkled fingers and get to work on the first one, trying not to think about the much wealthier man who sent it in for you to clean. He got A’s in school, that’s why he’s rich enough to own one. That’s why he’s rich enough to pay guys like you to pick it clean.
They’ll probably smell, the robots. If you’re lucky, it’ll be cheap lavender spray. If you’re not, it’ll be the reek of sweat and feet and the things rich men pay others to smell.
Sometimes — maybe most of the time — they’ll be damaged, and you’ll wonder how it happened. You’ll disconnect a speaker that’s still softly moaning, and you’ll wonder how the skull got cracked or why there are twenty circular burns on the inner thighs. You’ll find a broken blade or some frayed rope in the bottom of the box. You’ll swab something out of the ear or the nose and ask yourself how it could have gotten there. You’ll check the feet and see they’re filthy, but that’s impossible because these robots don’t walk. They just sit and lie around and sometimes kneel.
You’ll wonder why almost all the robots are female.
That bus will take you home to an empty apartment. You won’t be living with someone, that’s for sure — years of seeing what men do to woman-shaped things will either scare you at your own potential or thrill you. Either way, you won’t love human beings. You may love some plastic parts you’ve stolen from work and keep under your bed. You won’t be able to look women in the eye.
When Thanksgiving and Christmas come, there will be nowhere to go. Your mom and I will be dead by then, and I’ll be damned if I’m leaving you the farm. Maybe you’ll treat yourself to a milkshake at the mall food court or a gray steak at a diner. You’ll probably read a book or something because you’ll still like that.
Eventually, you’ll die. If you’re fortunate, you’ll simply go limp one day and ooze from the top of your last half-finished cleaning to the floor. More likely, some nut desensitized to a decade of working there will come in after a rape and murder spree, and he’ll mow all of you down with an assault rifle laughing and crying at the same time.
That nut may even be you.
Either way, bleeding out into the drain or gasping your last breath, you’ll think, “I really wish I’d listened to my dad and done better in Social Studies.”
Your mom and I just want the best for you, buddy. So let’s shape up, okay?