Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Sanitation Engineers"

This poem is spillover from the October 7, 2014 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired and sponsored by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer .  It also fills "the shopping mall" square in my 9-1-14 card for the [community profile] ladiesbingo  fest.  This poem belongs to the Polychrome Heroics series, and it's a direct sequel to the story "Keeping Warm" by [personal profile] dialecticdreamer .

"Sanitation Engineers"

Nandi Chambers stared at the wreckage
of her mall and resisted the urge to scream. 

Some bozo had provoked a supervillain into
creating an indoor hailstorm so severe that
even after the police had surveyed the crime scene
and left it for the cleanup crew, there were still
fist-sized chunks of ice scattered around.

Neon green flyers plastered the area around
the demolished Tastee Shack, its equipment smashed
and brown ice all over everywhere from spilled soft drinks.

There were black tire tracks  on the white tile floor.

Nandi deployed her whifflers, robotic wet-mops governed
by a central control unit, efficient but finicky little devices
that required a gizmologist to operate.  They quickly
sucked up the loose ice and water, but ran afoul
of the more solid debris, so that she had to keep
rescuing them like so many overturned turtles.

Remedios arrived ten minutes late.  "Sorry," she said.
"My auto de mierda  wouldn't start again."  The repairwoman
stepped inside the ruins of the Tastee Shack.  "What a mess!
It will take hours to fix the soft drink machine -- is that blood?"

"Looks like it," Nandi said as she tightened a loose gear
on a whiffler that had dropped a table on itself.  "I'll get to it.
You just worry about fixing what's left of the equipment."

"I heard Cody was here when it happened," Remedios said.
"I hope he's okay.  People shouldn't mess with supervillains.
Somebody could have gotten killed, and just look at this wreck!"

A weird metallic noise preceded the arrival of a young man
in a SPOON uniform and a green mohawk.  The teleporter
landed squarely on a piece of ice and fell on his butt.

"Hi, I'm Zipper," he said sheepishly as he got up.  "I'm here
with some payments from SPOON since none of the mall staff
made the incident worse by panicking.  There's a tip for the
sanitation engineers on cleanup, then I'm off to the office."

"Well this makes our day suck a lot less," Nandi said,
accepting the green envelope with its gold spoon sticker.

Zipper disappeared with the same whizzing-metal sound.

"You know, the union has that seminar on public emergencies
coming up," Remedios said to Nandi.  "I'm thinking about it."

"I'll come with you," Nandi said.  "Somebody has to clean up."

* * *


Nandi Chambers -- She has light brown skin, brown eyes, and curly dark brown hair usually worn in a bun.  She works as a sanitation engineer in a large mall, mainly overseeing the more sophisticated cleaning equipment such as whifflers.  Nandi likes to sit and think about machines and how to improve them.
Qualities: Good (+2) Gizmologist, Good (+2) Labor Activist, Good (+2) Stamina
Poor (-2) Neat Freak

Remedios Garza -- She has tinted skin, brown eyes, and straight brown hair cut to chin length.  She speaks English and Spanish fluently.  Remedios works as a sanitation engineer in a large mall, primarily maintenance and repair of equipment.  She is always fiddling with things around her home, fixing small appliances for friends, and trying to keep her auto de mierda  actually running.
Qualities: Good (+2) Cheerful, Good (+2) Repairwoman, Good (+2) Smart
Poor (-2) Junker Car

Zipper (Gaige Nelson) -- He has fair skin and green eyes.  His hair was originally black, but since the incident has grown in streaked with shades of green.  He works full-time as a courier for SPOON, but moves around rather than staying with one office.  His empathy is based on pheromone signals, so it only works on people in the same room and is not as refined as the mental version.
Origin: He started out as a Super-Gizmologist with his power growing in slowly.  An accident with a super-gizmo left the elaborate metal wristband fused to his left arm.  That's when he developed Teleportation and Chemical Empathy.  He has largely abandoned Super-Gizmology in favor of courier work.
Qualities: Good (+2) Citizen, Good (+2) Customer Service, Good (+2) Physically Fit, Good (+2) Video Gamer
Poor (-2) Blending In
Powers: Good (+2) Super-Gizmology,  Average (0) Chemical Empathy, Average (0) Teleportation

* * *

Whiffler -- an automatic yarn mop, similar to a roomba vacuum.  A central control unit can govern multiple whifflers.  They typically require a gizmologist to service, but are popular for institutions such as a mall or school with large areas of smooth floor that require daily cleaning.  Techko Maid is an example of a single device that both mops and sweeps.

Dealing with a sprinkler discharge is a lot of work, similar to cleaning up after a broken pipe.

In Spanish slang, auto de mierda  means "piece-of-shit car."

SPOON keeps a fund for damage compensation of superpower incidents.  One of its parameters includes rewarding people for a calm, rational response during emergencies.  Some individual superheroes, teams, or organizations that deal with incidents also have their own funds for similar purposes.  This helps maintain public relations, because most insurance companies won't deal with damages resulting from superpowers.

Emergency response includes making plans for businesses and events in case of mishap.  Terramagne divides emergencies into two broad categories based on response: evacuation vs. shelter.  Superpower incidents usually call for evacuation.

Unions offer many benefits including better employee service and worker enrichment programs.  While T-America does not have a centralized  organization training people to deal with superpower incidents, various institutions offer it on their own initiative based on what they have observed to be helpful.

Tags: cyberfunded creativity, ethnic studies, fantasy, fishbowl, gender studies, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing

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