The intercom buzzed on George's desk.
"Jetson! Get in here!"
George's office chair zipped into the boss' office.
"What's up, Mr. Spacely?"
"Jetson, how long have you worked here at Spacely Sprockets?"
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe 20 years, boss."
"That's what I wanted to talk to you about, Jetson," Spacely said. "You've probably noticed there aren't as many people around the office as there used to be."
"I was kind of wondering what happened to everybody else," George said. "I thought maybe everyone was on vacation. Jane, my wife, has been badgering me to take a six-week vacation so we can go see the rings of Saturn, and these three-day weeks are rough - "
"The other workers are gone, Jetson. Fired. Laid off. Kaput. Their jobs have been moved to Neptune. It used to be called offshoring. Now they call it offplaneting."
"But why, boss? How are we going to be able to stay in the sprocket business and compete with Cogswell Cogs?"
"It's all about economics, Jetson. We can have everything made on Neptune for a lot less, and the orders, sales and shipping work can be done by computer and VisaPhone. Another advantage is that Neptunians never get sick, so we're saving all that money we had to spend on employees here on Earth."
George held up his right index finger.
"My work finger has become calloused from punching that button, but I didn't realize I was doing the work for everyone in the office."
"Surely you've noticed you were working longer than your usual four-hour days lately?"
"Not really. I've been preoccupied with problems at home. Daughter Judy is having boyfriend problems, and my boy Elroy wants another pet to keep his dog Astro company, maybe a Venusian dust devil or - "
"Enough, Jetson! I've got my own problems. Even with the layoffs, we can't compete with Cogswell Cogs. We're going to have to take drastic steps to survive."
"More drastic than abolishing everyone's jobs but mine?" George asked, rubbing his sore finger.
"You might say that, Jetson. As it turns out, I don't need even you anymore. I've just been waiting for your replacement to come in before I told you, and finally it has."
Spacely walked over to a computer console, turned it on and said, "Get to work." A panel opened, and out popped a mechanical hand whose index finger reached down and pushed a button on the console.
"See that, Jetson?" Spacely said. "The perfect worker. No vacations, no benefits, no sick days, no coffee breaks. "American industry has been building to this for decades, and finally it's here. And to think, you lasted long enough to see it happen. Now, go enjoy a nice, long vacation. I won't be paying for it, though."
As George went out to get his jet car, he could hear Spacely inside, laughing uncontrollably.
Reach Glynn Moore at (706) 823-3419 or firstname.lastname@example.org.