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Topic: Rejection (11/15/04)
TITLE: How Not to Prepare for Robot Heaven
By Erwin Robledo
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One of the robots when he first became conscious of the world around him, found on his waist a sticker that read, “Humanoid Robot”. He got his name from that – Manno, but all the other robots called him Bili from the two appendages that projected from the sides of his chest.
The place was Robo Robo, and there were two kinds of robots that lived here: those that had a right arm, and those that had a left. Most of the time life was peaceful, until a leftie did something wrong or vice versa, unintentional or not. Then the righties would group together and claim that the world would be a better place if there were no left-handed robots. The righties were a majority, and most of the time they won - most of the time. There were times when the lefties won the argument, and there were times when arguments were a draw. But robots with two arms could not take sides and always lost.
Bili wondered who first said that right or wrong was determined by the number of arms you had, or the position that they were placed in. It was hard being wrong all the time. There were times when Bili would get an idea, a fabulous one, almost amounting to a stroke of genius, and everyone would hear his idea and laugh. There was no one who would agree. Which is why one day he decided to have one of his arms taken off. It would be the left of course; finally he would be in the influential elite who made all the rules in the place. He hit his shoulder, again and again, trying to crush it with punches, or repeated stone blows. But plastic was hard to break, and he only succeeded with a cracked shoulder. And it hurt.
Life did not improve for Bili and he remained an outcast, devoid of a voice or an opinion, although no one really laughed out loud about his “mutation” or made reference of his double arms when citing why his opinion didn’t count. It was life, the natural course of events. But Bili wanted more. One day he waved goodbye and left Robo Robo. The lefties and the righties waved back and continued with their everyday tasks.
The travel was long and lonely – the latter Bili was very much accustomed to already. Place after place he sought for his kind; robots with two arms and legs, a head sticking out on the top, coated with a lustrous gray plastic. There were cities full of dolls, toy cars, stuffed animals, but none with the toys similar to himself. One year passed, then another, and on the third year he found what he was looking for.
That year Bili fell into a stream that carried him to the shores of Obor Obor, where the robots had two arms, two legs, a head on the top of their bodies and were coated with a lustrous gray plastic. Bili was ecstatic. He ran toward them with open arms, finally finding a place where he belonged.
The robots cheered Bili and welcomed him to the pack. One of the robots patted him on the shoulder – the left shoulder, the one he wanted desperately to get rid of. The crack gave way and his shoulder splintered, the arm dropping on the floor with a soft clang.
He now had one arm.