Monday, September 7, 2009

Why I Moved To Austria In 2143

They gilded the envelope with gold. Not just the letter, the envelope. And the gold envelope laid on purple velvet inside a hand-delivered teak box with hinges made of gold. After you hit a hundred years old, and you've got skills in a hot field, with successful businesses launched single-handedly, you attract a lot of attention. A lot of businesses had recruited me before in many of my careers, but this was new.

The recruiter knew my thoughts on business, my attitude, my philosophy. She hadn't just watched my lectures and my interviews, and read my books; she had dug deep, going so far as to read my student thesis in poli sci. She impressed me with that. Then she told me she was going to lay out some ideas and get my response. I said OK.

She tells me how in the 1940s Mercedes, BMW, and Volkswagen used Jewish slave labor, along with gold pulled straight out of Jewish teeth, to get their companies off the ground. She tells me how in the early 2000s, only one of those companies had to pay reparations, and the reparations priced those dead people at $700 a head. Then she asks me if it would be a good idea, financially, for a corporation to invest in a country likely to experience a Holocaust; if the slave labor would turn out to be a good investment.

Of course the whole thing's a setup. The answer is no, because if you're going to do something that unethical, we have the ability to clone humans in places where law enforcement will never see them. You just breed your slave labor and no government ever needs to know. For that matter, we also have robots. Who needs slaves?

But that's all beside the point. She's not asking me because I used to be an economist, in my fifties and sixties. She's asking me because I'm Palestinian.

Here's the thing. I might be the best geneticist in the world. You don't put all this effort into getting my attention and recruiting me just to race-bait me unless you have something pretty unusual in mind. I don't appreciate people provoking me to hatred. I don't believe in the social Darwinism that I wrote about so much fifty years ago, either. But I love this geneticist gig. It's a thrill, creating life. I think after a hundred years on this planet I've finally found what I was put on this earth to do. And the sheer amount of effort this recruiter is going through, I'm just dying to find out who her client is and want they want me to bring to life.

So I swallow the bait. I rant a little about Israeli oppression and what they did to my people and that sort of thing. I can't really remember very much of it, but I can remember the way my dad used to get mad about politics, so I just go through the motions and pretend to be him. And the recruiter smiles this wolfish grin which I'm sure she imagines to be both sympathetic and conspiratorial, and she says she can tell me a very interesting secret if I just sign an NDA.

And that's how I took on one of the most interesting projects of my entire life.

The rest, of course, was history.