27 Jun 2017 05:27 pm

Chapter 2

Gino woke refreshed and prepared for the coming day’s activities. The quiet evening with Kate gave perspective to his excitement. Gino was not only emotionally recharged for the morning meeting with his associates, but now felt less concerned about any circumstances that might arise which would further delay his plans to revolutionize the textile industry.

The morning air was crisp and cool, and the dark grey sky promised an early rain. Thunder clouds were gathering as Gino looked out the window to see children leaving their homes for school in raincoats or carrying umbrellas. Gino stopped for a minute in back of the open window and listened to the children’s voices cut through the heavy air as they yelled to each other while they ran down the street.

“Do you still want to meet at the park after your meeting?” asked Kate as she entered the room straightening up throw pillows and running her hand across the bed.

“Sure,” answered Gino, “I’ll bring some bread and cheese. We’ll have a little picnic,” he said as he approached and embraced her. “It will seem so strange when we have kids, it will be hard for me to share you with a child.”

“It will be just as hard for me to divide my time between you two kids,” Kate said with a smile. “Gino, I can’t wait to see you with your own child in your arms. Playing with him as he grows up, and teaching him all the time.” Kate hugged Gino harder as she pictured Gino with their child.

“I hope we have a little girl, the relationship between a father and daughter is so pure, so less complicated than a father with his son.” Gino moved back from Kate and continued to talk quite animated.

“There is this one little girl at the park who I can picture being our daughter. She has long black hair and dark eyes, and plays with all of the other children. When other children are fighting she gets them to do something else together, without them ever realizing she intervened in their argument.” Gino now was moving his arms about as he continued to describe and act out this little girl’s social prowess.

“She can’t be more than seven years old, and comes up to about here,” Gino stated as he held his hand out a few feet above the floor. “She’s so in tune with her environment, so aware of others feelings. Yet, she is not the least bit passive,” said Gino trying to balance out his verbal painting, “she plays so hard, and can run so fast for such a little thing.”

“Please Gino,” pleaded Kate only half in jest, “don’t wish for a child as hyper as you.”

Gino, now realizing his voice level and body gestures had escalated as his story unfolded, stopped for a second, smiled, and quipped, “I don’t know why you always refer to our child as a him, you couldn’t handle two of us.”

“I just figure a little boy would be a better playmate for you. When I get old, I’m not going to be able to keep up with you. If there were two of you, you guys could just burn each other out while I sat and watched.”

Gino had no quick reply for Kate’s last assessment, for again Kate was probably right. “Since you want a son, we’ll probably have a son. And he’ll probably be devoted to his mother and in relentless competition with his father.”

“And if we have a daughter,” stated Kate as she shook her head, “she’ll probably be this athletic female philosopher who idolizes her father as an unattainable ideal.”

“If we have a daughter,” Gino countered, “she’ll be like that little girl in the park, intelligent and sensitive like her mother and intense and insatiable like her father.”

As Gino and Kate left their bedroom and headed downstairs for breakfast, Gino became animated again as he told some of his favorite stories of the children at the park. Kate, always willing to hear a good story, avidly listened to each tale, and approvingly watched Gino as he donned each child’s personality while acting out each scene.

Outside, the morning continued to grow darker as thunder could be heard in the distance. The hollow reverberations of Kate’s and Gino’s laughter in the kitchen was accentuated by the dim thick morning air before a thunderstorm. Gino, laughing and eating with Kate in the kitchen, felt safe and warm. The exaggerated darkness of the coming storm gave the kitchen a womb-like comfort for Gino.

“There is so much energy in the air today.” said Gino as he stood up to wash his dish and place in the strainer. Looking out the kitchen window above the sink he added, “Nothing like a spring thunderstorm to electrify the air, it looks like we’re going to get quite a cloudburst.”

“Sure” said Kate, “cancel our picnic.”

“If it’s raining I’ll meet you at the gazebo. How does 3:00 sound?”

“Sounds fine, I see Dale and Marcia today, but I should be done with them by 1:00. If there is any change in plans, just call me after one.”

Just as Kate finished talking, a loud peal of thunder rocked the kitchen. “I guess the boys will have to contend with two storms today. One outside and one inside. I wonder which one will be more scary for them,” Kate said with her eyes glistening with pride.

“I’m sure Barry will enter the meeting complaining of how these blasted rain storms always ruin his suits. Speaking of suits, how this outfit for today.”

“You look very handsome in a suit and tie, that’s the best part for me when you have to go into the office.”

“Maybe you’d like me to wear a suit and tie when I work here on the computer.”

Kate grabbed his tie and wrapped it around her fist said, “Nothing like having your man on a short leash to keep a woman happy.”

“If I were Barry, I would have had a heart attack when you grabbed my tie.”

“If you were Barry, you would have had a heart attack last night,” purred Kate.

“If Barry dies soon, you’re in big trouble,” countered Gino as he kissed Kate.

As Gino and Kate let go of each other she whispered, “Good luck today, Gino, it sounds like the time is right.”

Gino paused for a moment and just looked at Kate. As Gino turned towards the door he nervously notices he had forgotten where he had placed his briefcase. Gino looked in the closet next to the door, under the kitchen table and then immediately searched for Kate’s eyes. “It’s on the top shelf of the closet,” said Kate as she shook her head in disbelief.

“Thanks,” said Gino still fidgeting, “see you at three.”

“Gino,” said Kate, “you really should take an umbrella.”

Gino, smiling sheepishly, looked back into the closet and grabs the umbrella, then nodded to Kate, as he went outside into the morning gloom. An energetic gloom, the kind that is ripe for reflection.

As Gino climbed into his car, he began to organize his thoughts for the coming meeting. The ride to the office was always distracting for Gino, he did not like to drive, and he especially disliked driving in traffic. Even though his office was on the edge of the city close to his house, Gino still dreaded the traffic and general bustle of the city.

Between paying attention to the road and the coming storm, Gino had little opportunity to organize his thoughts. Instead of approaching the meeting with a definite plan, all Gino was able to accomplish during his ride to work was to index a few ideas that he would be sure to mention.

The fact of the matter was Gino never prepared himself for any meeting, he was more of a creature of the moment, depending on his quickness and intelligence to respond to any situation. Preparation seemed unnecessary and artificial to him, and he was often bored by the canned presentations of his business associates and colleagues. Where most people would experience anxiety and fear when approaching a major meeting, Gino experienced a sense of excitement.

A fine mist began to fall as he exited from the highway and on to the ramp leading to the street where his office was located. The office was on the top floor of a small professional building he shared with a few lawyers and accountants. This was Gino’s turf, simple and convenient, much unlike the pretentious skyscraper that housed Omnicorp’s downtown main offices.

Pulling into the office parking lot, he was relieved to see he had arrived before the others. Gino disliked when Barry arrived first, for he always felt like an intruder to his own office when he arrived after Barry. When he arrived first, Barry would seize the opportunity to rearrange the room and organize the materials to his personal liking. He would even position himself and the chairs in such a manner that all discussion would have to go through him. Gino knew that Barry wanted to take control because he was both frightened and offended by Gino’s casual approach to running a business meeting.

One could always tell who arrived first by looking at the blinds and curtains in Gino’s office. If there was natural light and one could look outside, Gino arrived first. If the blinds and curtains were drawn in an effort to prevent any distractions to the meeting, Barry had arrived first. Kelsey, in particular, was aware of this dynamic between his employers, and would try to smooth over the frustrated feelings of the loser of this silent battle of control.

The relationship between Barry and Gino was very much like the old tense partnerships of kings and their philosopher/artist advisors. No one knew when the king would tire of the recommendations of the philosopher, or become overly jealous of his intelligence and logic, but they all knew power and genius were seldom life long friends.

The office overlooked a few blossoming trees that now glowed like an impressionistic painting in the eerie light caused by the dark thunder clouds. After setting the seats in a comfortable circular arrangement, Gino sat down in the seat with the best view of the turbulent skyline. Sitting in the office watching the coming spring storm reminded him of his early school days.
The grade school he attended was built in a squared u-shape, allowing you to see other classrooms when looking out the window. On bright sunny days you could not see through the tinted windows of the classrooms across the way, yet on cloudy rainy days you could peer into the other classrooms. Gino remembered the other- world look that the bright florescent lights gave to the opposite classrooms, how each room seemed like a separate hive right out of a science fiction movie.

During those rainy spring afternoons the classrooms seemed so safe, so complete, a world unto themselves. At those times, Gino felt he could stay in his classroom his entire life, safe and warm. Even though some children were afraid of the darkened skies, this was more than compensated for by the unity spawned in the cocoon world of the classroom. The teachers, responding to the children’s anxiety of the storm and the sleepiness of the dim skies, often abandoned the afternoon studies and engaged in group building games and art projects.

Gino could remember one game in particular he was often directed to play on those dark rainy days of spring. The game was called 7-up in which seven students would be selected to come to the front of the room. The rest of the class was instructed to close their eyes, place their heads on their desk, and raise one arm into the air by placing their elbow on their desk.

The game would start by the seven children going around the room and each touching one classmate’s raised hand. The child whose hand was touched would lower their hand, but keep their eyes closed. After all seven children had touched seven other children, they would return to the front of the classroom. The teacher then instruct all the children to lift their heads and open their eyes. The children who were tagged would stand up next to their desks and try to guess which of the kids standing at the front of the room touched their hand. If a child guessed right, they would get to be it, if they guessed wrong the child who touched their hand would continue to be it during the next round.

Closing his eyes Gino remembered how his head felt pressed against his desk, how he could feel a swoosh of air move across the back of his neck as the children who were it, passed by his desk. He remembered how he would try to sense who a person was by the feeling in his neck as they paused above him and then quickly ran away when they touched his hand.

The body memory of how it felt for his hand to be touched during that game was still very vivid. This was probably because so much attention was spent in anticipation and in identifying that touch. When one’s eyes are closed and one’s every fiber is in tense anticipation of being touched, there is a certain focus that could only be rivaled by the first time you hold someone’s hand, or the calm intimacy of making love. Yet, the sensual innocence of this game was very special for Gino; to truly feel another’s touch without any noticeable element of sexual desire was a fairly unique experience for Gino.

Gino still felt warm and snuggled as he opened his eyes to again see his little office world. The classroom feeling still lingered as he listened to the florescent lights buzzing overhead and looked out at the dim pinkish grey light that disguised this spring morning. The buzzing of the lights was disturbed by the crackling of car tires turning into the parking lot. Gino took one last look at his classroom, sighed deeply, and prepared for the commotion that would soon disturb the cocoon and silence before the storm. Gino turned away from watching the first droplets hit the window to welcome Barry as he entered his office.

“God, Gino,” said Barry shaking out his raincoat, “I know you say you don’t need a secretary, but it seems so intrusive to walk into someone’s office unannounced. Knocking on your office door seems ridiculous, and asking if someone’s in here when you can see the lights is plain stupid. What would we do if we had to hold a meeting here with some big-wigs from another company?”

Barry looked up at the coat tree near the door and neatly hung up his raincoat and umbrella while disapprovingly looking at Gino’s umbrella leaning up in the corner behind the coat tree. Barry turned and looked at Gino and added softly, “Nice suit, I wish you dressed professionally more often. You’re a handsome guy Gino, it wouldn’t hurt us if you exploited your looks with our clients. You got a face people can trust, but a wardrobe which scares them off.”

Barry paused once more as he looked over the seating arrangement before he took a seat across from Gino. “So how are you feeling today?”

“Pretty good Barry, how about yourself?”

“I felt fine until I got on the road. Even when it’s barely raining these idiots drive like they’re in a funeral procession. I’m sure that’s what’s holding Kelsey up, especially now that it’s raining harder.”

In the silence between sentences you could now hear the rain hitting the window pane and spanking the pavement below. Gino looked up for a second and saw lightning flash off in the distance. “Looks like we’re in for a good storm, I hope that Kate doesn’t call off our picnic.”

“A picnic during a storm,” Barry said in disbelief, “they only do that in movies. And even then it’s only before the girl dies of some strange disease.” Barry laughed a little at his last statement and continued, “I guess your style works Gino, Kate never has a harsh word to say about you. All the time I’ve known the two of you, I’ve never seen you argue, or complain about each other. How do you guys handle your disagreements?”

“I’m not really sure myself,” answered Gino seriously, “I know we get angry at each other, but we seem to work it out without fighting.” With a smile Gino added, “Maybe it’s the picnics.”

The sound of Kelsey’s long determined strides could be heard echoing down the hall way leading up to the office. Gino and Barry both turned towards the door and awaited Kelsey’s entrance. The sound of Kelsey’s footsteps stopped in front of the door and after a slight pause, he knocked on the door while calling out Gino’s name.

Barry mumbled, “God, Gino,” as he shook his head and posed a derisive smile.

“Come on in,” said Gino warmly.

Gino got up to take Kelsey’s briefcase and portfolio while he hung up his rain coat and hat. Kelsey was a towering figure, standing 6’4″ tall, with the frame of a professional body guard. He was very fit for a man turning forty, and worked out daily at the local health club. His receding hairline and thinning frizzy hair exposed a strong protruding forehead which only added to the imposing figure he cast. When under florescent lights, such as during office meetings, one could barely focus on anything other than Kelsey’s size due to the shining of lights off his forehead. His size and resonant voice were truly business assets, for his personality was rather passive and gentle. Without his imposing stature, it was doubtful the employees in his division would ever complete their projects on time.

When they looked at Kelsey, Gino and Barry saw two different people. Barry saw the creative taskmaster whose department efficiently got their work done, and whose physical presence and gentle articulation were an asset in business meetings.
Gino saw the gentle-hearted giant who was both logical and loyal. His strongest memories of Kelsey were of the times he spent with his wife and family in their cedar home overlooking the hills. When with Kelsey’s family, Kate and Gino always admired his relationships with all three of his children and they were very comfortable with his wife, Sharon.

The instant Kelsey finished hanging up his things Barry assertively asked, “Did you have time to organize all of your designs?”

“Yes,” replied Kelsey with his soft tone and military politeness. Turning towards Gino he added, “The boys were all pretty excited about working on this project. With so many new designs and options available to them, they were like my little ones playing with their legos.”

“If they found this project exciting, just wait till they get a hold of our next project. By the way, how is Sharon and the kids? Is Andy playing tennis again this year?”

“Everyone is fine, Gino. Andy’s playing tennis, Sheila has band practice, Troy is beginning track and Sharon is playing professional cab driver all afternoon long, carting the kids from one activity to the next.”

“Well, before Gino starts talking about his ideas for our next project, let’s take a hard look at this one,” said Barry with anxious anticipation. “Let’s begin by looking at the designs and then we’ll be able to talk over any alterations we may be forced to make.” Barry made the last statement while standing over the chair in which he intended Kelsey to sit.

“By all means,” said Gino rubbing his hands together with equal eagerness, “lets take a look at what your men have come up with.”

Kelsey took the seat which Barry was hovering over and unzipped the portfolio. After Barry looked at each design, he handed it on to Gino. Once each design had been looked at and initially commented on, they were placed on the long table at the back of the office to be scrutinized and discussed in detail after all had been unveiled.

The bulk of their opening comments were compliments to Kelsey regarding the clarity and definition of each design. Barry’s initial questions revolved around the purpose and operation expense of each machine designed. Gino’s questions almost entirely centered on how each machine related to the previous machine. Since Gino’s goal was total automation he wanted to get an instant read of how these designs were meeting that goal.

Kelsey and his men had been working frantically on this project for the last four months, this was the first opportunity that he had to reflect on what they had created. Kelsey’s pride grew with each question asked of him. He began to realize how intricate and complete the work on this project had become. He was amazed at the complexity of Gino’s questions, and wondered how a man untrained in the field of engineering could be aware of the intricacies of this technology.

The excitement and intensity of the moment had placed Gino in a trance state, a state very similar to that when he played basketball. The intense concentration of Gino was an organic one. His questions and observations came from an unconscious source instinctively born from his intensity. The next few hours would be timeless for Gino, he truly would be a creature of the moment, responding to every situation with the instinct and quickness of a tiger.

People around Gino, even Kate, were unaware of exactly when he entered and exited these states in which he was one with his environment. Gino himself was only aware of his intensity when it subsided for a moment, or completely deserted him. Yet, in this unconscious state, Gino felt very alive, very in-tune with his environment. This state of heightened, yet unconscious, awareness was Gino’s spiritual side. The part of himself that humbled him in reflection. Gino felt that his ego’s quest was always to unfold and understand that organic part of himself which took over when he performed well.

At these times, Gino was not only hyperly aware of himself, but also felt less of a border between his body and others. His intensity was able to occupy the entire room; just as in basketball his organic awareness included all ten players on the court. He anticipated questions and observations of Barry and Kelsey even before they were aware of these questions themselves.

When Winston arrived, nearly an hour late, Gino was jolted from his trance and again had the sense of self-consciousness that makes a person feel things such as pride and embarrassment. Gino watched nervously as Winston looked over each design and fired question after question in Kelsey’s direction.

Winston was a no-nonsense business man. Well into his fifties, he had seen so much come and go in the business world so Gino knew that he was the ultimate litmus test for any plan. Winston was a portly gentleman, who looked more like an English butler than a corporate hatchet-man. At times, Gino could become frustrated by the conservative nature of this stodgy old man, but he also realized no one was better at assessing the practical drawbacks to any project.

Winston never made an attempt to establish any personal contact with Gino. Even though he realized Gino was the force behind all Barry’s highly successful business ventures, he had little tolerance for Gino’s idealism and radical vision. His focus was always on Kelsey, he was confident in Kelsey ability to convert Gino’s impractical ideas into solid business ventures.

After some time, Winston finally turned directly towards Gino and queried, “I must say, I’m not sure if I understand the goal of this entire operation. With machinery this sophisticated you make the need for most employees unnecessary, and you could greatly save in the expense of hardware if you included more tasks for human laborers in your designs.”

“I know.” said Gino almost shyly, “We’re removing the need for human labor on purpose.”

Winston squinted beneath his glasses and with an air of irritation stared at Gino before forcing out with a hiss, “Why in the devil would you want to do that? The production of their plants is already down, why would you offer them a solution which promises to reduce the morale and productivity of its workers?”

Barry and Kelsey were now beginning to see what Gino was planning. Kelsey in particular was being hit by the gravity and radicalness of the designs that lay before them. Kelsey, as well as Barry, turned towards Gino to watch his reply. In a moments time, Kelsey and Barry both wondered if Gino’s idealism had finally crossed the line of sanity.

Very slowly, as if walking by a snake poised to strike, Gino began to articulate the logic behind his plans to completely automate the textile industry. “If the hardware and electronic communication are totally responsible for the production and manufacturing of the finished product, how could production do anything but increase?”

Winston, continuing to stare at Gino like he was an unusual insect, blinked two or three times and stammered in concession, “If the industry were totally automated, then I guess production would be as quick as the machines producing and overseeing the operation.”

“Are the designs here on the table capable of removing the need for human labor at plants such as the ones operated by Transatlantic Textiles?”

Winston’s voice still altered between anger and concession as he replied “With a few minor adjustments the plans here would be able to be interfaced fairly smoothly with their current technology, allowing for a sizable increase in production. Yet, it would take me a few hours to assess if all human labor could be effectively replaced by the technology that you and Kelsey have planned and designed.”

All eyes were on Gino as the silence in the room grew more tense. Winston, now looking confused, asked, “I am not usually prone to philosophical or moral questions, but what is to happen to all of the workers?”

Gino was now aware that Winston was asking a question that was on the minds of everyone in the room. His mouth became dry as he could feel the stares of all three men pelt away at his skin like the raindrops banging against the window pane behind him. Gino cleared his throat and prepared to answer a question that he knew others would feel very important. Even though the answer he was about to give seemed totally logical to him, Gino sensed it would not satisfy the others in the room.
“The workers would be let go and freed from their jobs,” Gino stated with as much confidence as he could muster.

Winston’s head snapped around to look at Kelsey and Barry. Then he barked at them with a tone of angry self-righteousness, “Freed from their jobs, their careers! What in the hell are these unemployed workers to do to put food on the table? What do they do until they get their next job? I don’t see the freedom!” Winston’s last words displayed his anger as they echoed off the walls in the office.

Barry and Kelsey stood stiff and silent, for they had no answer to Winston’s questions. They both felt a sense of relief when Gino began to answer. Yet, they were both afraid that Gino’s next response would be even more bizarre than his previous statement.

“We’ve already established that the production of goods would be greatly increased through automating the plants. The quality of the goods would also increase,” he said with mounting confidence, “as would the efficiency of almost every aspect of their complete operation. If the entire industry were automated then every aspect of the plant’s activities from receiving to filling out orders would be done through electronic machines and communication devices.”

Gino now did not mind the stares of his associates as he continued to unfold the logic of the proposed project. “With machines and hardware monitoring and servicing each other with greater precision and sensitivity than is capable through human labor, the plant will be able to produce more goods, at a much lower cost. The machines working around the clock, and not susceptible to fatigue, heat and cold, and boredom, will be able to produce a decade’s worth of goods in a few month’s time.”

Gino looked around and saw that Kelsey and Barry had the same shocked expression on their face that Winston did, yet he knew that no one could openly refute the logic of his argument. Gino paused for a second so that his associates could process what he had said so far, and then continued. “Much of the overhead at a plant is caused by the services provided for the workers. A plant functioning with human labor would not have to be heated in the winter and cooled in the summer. Without human workers there would be no need for unemployment insurance or workman’s compensation.”

Gino was once again losing his sense of self and getting lost in his own intensity as he continued on with his emerging picture of laborless industry. “Since machines are heartier than humans, the harsh chemicals which potentially harm the workers and pollute the environment would be able to be processed and reused without harm to the environment and at a greatly reduced cost. All of this, plus many other factors, would allow for a huge increase in the profit margin of each plant, and the corporation in general. Just think of the savings that a single plant would procure in a year’s time by not having to train new staff, since there would be no turnover, and training of the machines would take a few seconds to program them.”

Kelsey, regaining faith that Gino had thought this plan through, interrupted Gino to point out, “Gino, I’m sure Winston can see the profit potential in these plans, but you haven’t addressed his concern about the workers being laid off. How would they survive?”

Gino noticed that inherent in Kelsey’s question was a willingness to seriously consider his plan. Reassured by Kelsey’s desire to be open to his ideas, Gino smiled and continued in a slower more relaxed pace. “The former employees of the plant would be fired with pay, continuing to receive their paychecks while they stay at home,” he stated calmly. “Since the plant’s production and profit would be dramatically increased, it could afford to continue to pay each past employee while still experiencing a substantial increase in profits. In fact, each employee would be given an opportunity to own stock allowing them to share in the economic growth of the corporation.”

Winston grew more uncomfortable as Gino’s description of the workers continued. Gino knew that his explanation would be too radical, would be considered absurd science fiction, by a man as conservative as Winston. Yet, this was the only way that Gino knew how to answer the question still needing further reply.

“The workers would then have the option of finding additional employment, or just enjoying their paid free time,” he said in a matter of fact tone. “The additional profit that we make from automating this industry could be used for research and design to refine the technology that we are introducing. This will allow us to automate other industries without incurring any deficits. In a short period of time, we could be in the business of increasing profit margins for many industries through creating efficient laborless work environments.”

Winston, who could no longer bare to listen to the rantings of such radical thought, emphatically interrupted Gino and remarked, “You have sufficiently answered my question regarding how the workers fit into the economic equation necessitated by the practical implementation of these designs. Now, let’s look at each design to gain a better clarification of the exact role it will have at Transatlantic Textiles. After we’ve worked out the logistic bugs in these designs I will need a copy of all these designs to better assess the practical feasibility of total automation.”

Winston paused and looked around the room to make sure all had stopped daydreaming of utopic corporations and were once again able to rededicate themselves to coldly analyzing each individual design. “Gentlemen, you have less than two more hours of my time. I suggest we get down to business, there are many practical questions that need to be addressed.” Winston, relieved to once again return to hard facts, sighed, took a deep breath and began to inquire into the logistics of each design.

The rain began to lighten back into a cleansing mist, as thunder could barely be heard in the distance. Gino felt warm and cozy in this little classroom, glad to be with classmates working together on his project. Winston reminded Gino of his favorite teachers who, likewise, were also very demanding. No longer threatened by Winston’s questions, Gino gradually slipped back into a trance. Now it was time for all of Gino’s questions to be answered and the dream to begin.

The meeting ended all to quickly for Gino, who was thoroughly enjoying his ideas being tested and his plans practically evaluated. Even though he was personally assured of the logic of his plans, he was still surprised when Winston ended the meeting by stating he saw no reason why these designs could not accomplish their goal of higher productivity at reduced cost. Winston then concluded by saying, “It is quite obvious by these plans that the number of workers needed to run the plant will be greatly reduced. Yet, I will not be able to comment on the logistical possibility of firing all workers until late tomorrow afternoon.”

Winston turned towards Barry as he prepared himself to leave and offered, “I see no reason not to go ahead with your plans to talk to Transatlantic, they are in desperate need of assistance, and these designs will have a financial benefit to all parties involved.”

“Thanks for your assistance and patience Winston,” Barry stated while shaking his hand, “I’ll give you a call late tomorrow afternoon.”

Winston cast a glance towards Gino and then returned eye contact with Barry and advised solemnly, “Be careful, Barry, this is very dangerous territory. Don’t jeopardize your entire operation with lofty ideals.”

Barry just smiled and watched Winston march down the hallway and off to his next appointment. Barry wondered what Winston would say if he knew of the hold that Gino had over him, of how powerless he was to decline Gino’s ideas. There was something seductive in Gino’s innocence and passionate belief in his theories that Barry could not bring himself to control. Maybe, it was that he was tired of all the years playing the same manipulative money games with his business peers; maybe it was because he wanted to be part of something truly historic in the business world; or maybe he wanted to punish himself for his past ruthlessness. Whatever the reason, he sensed he wouldn’t stop this roller coaster ride even if it were going to end in disaster.

When his attention returned to Gino and Kelsey, they were engaged in calm but earnest conversation. Kelsey, like Barry, wanted to believe in Gino, yet Kelsey had specific questions which needed to be answered in order for him to solidly support Gino’s venture. Barry sat quietly to listen in on their conversation. He hoped Gino would be able to satisfy his doubts, as well as Kelsey’s.

“I still do not understand what happens to the workers, what will they do without their jobs?” asked Kelsey with a note of panic in his voice. “Won’t they get bored, resort to crime, drugs, or become suicidal?”

“They’d have their freedom to do what they like,” said Gino sounding like an activist from the sixties.

“Gino, I’m not a particularly religious man. I find my meaning to this life by what I do, by what I accomplish,” continued Kelsey who now sounded like he was pleading with someone who had fainted to regain consciousness. “Without my career, my life would lose much of its meaning. My dignity would be destroyed,”

“I’m sure that many people would take time to adjust to their freedom. You’re right, some would be bored, maybe even suicidal. Yet, a new system wouldn’t destroy people’s dignity, it would restore it,” Gino stated, as he hoped the right words would come to him. “Work would become an option, no longer a necessity for survival. Each individual would be able to choose a lifestyle which gives them joy, and provides them with a sense of meaning.”

Gino could still see the anxiety in Kelsey’s eyes. He felt like he was talking to a child about not being afraid of the dark. No matter how much you try to relieve a child’s fears it is still true they could be hurt in the dark. No matter what Gino said, he knew some people would find change too scary to deal with.

“Each person would be free to create their own joy. You, for instance, could still make designs and plans for new machines. All that would change is that you would not have deadlines to make, or specific hours to keep.”

“What about the people who aren’t creative, or do not happen to have the business connections I have?”

“I’m sure there are many problems that will arise from making labor unnecessary, but let’s not underestimate the gains. First of all, life’s necessities would be able to be provided to most people without their needing to exploit or hurt others, or endure a job they can’t stand,” said Gino defensively. Sounding more agitated he continued, “One would be free to create, learn, share, love and feel what it is that motivates them. One’s meaning in life and personal happiness would be attained by actual human experience rather than by jumping through hoops for a paycheck.”

With growing determination in his voice he continued, “A person writing a song would not have to depend on a record contract to validate their feelings of accomplishment for what they have expressed. Two people in love would not have to juggle schedules to be able to arrange time together. We could leave the grunt work to machines and allow ourselves time to learn about the important things in life.”

“Gino, you know as well as I do, we could probably automate 70 to 80 percent of all industries. What would happen to all of those people? They all can’t be artists and philosophers, what about the people who do not feel imprisoned by manual labor?” asked Kelsey as he shifted himself leaning forward in his chair.

“Hopefully, human labor would become an option. If a person enjoys building things, or working with his hands they should be given an opportunity to do so,” stated Gino in a much calmer voice tone. Gino, now becoming aware that Barry was quietly monitoring the conversation added, “Any tradesman could still enjoy his work. A carpenter could still make furniture for himself or others, all that would change is that he could choose when to work and when to do other things.”

Gino looked to both Barry and Kelsey and concluded, “I know that there will be many complications caused by making human labor expendable, but I am confident we can successfully tend to these problems as they arise. Providing life’s necessities through unleashing our technology could reduce social problems such as world hunger, drug addiction, crime and any other human atrocity caused by one’s need to exploit another for personal profit. To venture away from human freedom seems illogical.”

The tension of the room was once again being replaced by the safety of the cocoon. Gino paused a moment and added reassuringly, “If we are to begin automating many different industries we should spend more time researching ways to help people become more comfortable with their free time. Helping them become aware of all the options they have available to them.”

Barry walked over and stood between Kelsey and Gino while remarking, “I do think it is important we monitor every aspect of such a novel operation as the one we are presently planning to engage in. This venture will demand long-term vision on every level, from hardware to personnel.”

Placing his hands on their shoulders Barry continued, “We will need to meet often to discuss all of the variables. Please feel free to ask for a meeting to discuss any concerns or complications you can foresee.”

Gino and Kelsey both nodded their head and Kelsey offered, “This is all so overwhelming, I apologize if any of my questions seemed premature or confrontational.”

“It’s O.K.,” said Gino, “I need my dreams to be tested. Hell, I’m just as scared of my ideas as anyone else.” All three men smiled at the last statement, for they sensed that was probably the most truthful statement of the entire morning.
“If you’ll excuse me gentlemen,” Barry stated assertively, “I have a few phone calls to make before I talk to Transatlantic Textiles.” After all three made eye contact Barry turned to get his things. Once he picked up his raincoat he turned to see if it was still raining. “Look Gino,” said Barry motioning to the window, “the skies are clearing. Have a good time on your picnic. Give Kate my best.”

“Take it easy Barry,” offered Gino, “and good luck with the phone calls.”

As Barry left the office he shouted back to Gino, “Stay near a phone Gino. No playing hooky. We will have plenty to talk about before the weekend.”

“I have one more question for you, Gino,” began Kelsey as he stood up to retrieve his designs from the back table, “why did you choose Transatlantic Textiles as the first company to automate?”

“Have you ever visited a sweat shop?” Gino inquired. “I really couldn’t tolerate the way those people were being overworked.”

“That’s what I figured,” responded Kelsey as he zipped up his portfolio and headed towards the door. “What’s next Gino, migrant farming?” asked Kelsey with a laugh in his voice.

“No,” countered Gino, “probably our secretarial pool.”

“The next few days promise to be exciting Gino. For what it’s worth, I think we’re going to pull this thing off. Transatlantic will accept almost any terms as long as they do not construe it as a pure takeover.”

When Kelsey finished collecting his things he stood by the door and took one last look about the office before adding happily, “The day turned out pretty well Gino. I think Barry is even more committed to your plans, but I wouldn’t mention to him your idea about getting rid of the secretaries.”

“Thank all the guys in your department for me,” said Gino as he moved over to pat Kelsey on the shoulder before he exited.

“Let me know when they will be ready for another big project.”

“Will do, Gino, take care of yourself.”

As Kelsey turned, Gino watched his long stride calmly lope down the hallway. Kelsey’s support of his plans was very important to Gino, not just from a business perspective, but also personally. He had such great respect for Kelsey’s values and warm nature. To Gino, Kelsey’s support signified his plans were ethical and beneficial to others, and not just cold profitable business ventures.

Gino turned and walked over towards the window looking at the sun trying to peek through on this overcast spring afternoon. The wind had picked up and one could still hear the trees shed more raindrops when a strong breeze whipped through. The pavement, though still wet, was beginning to show dry patches. This scene was too inviting for Gino to watch from a distance. so rubbing his hands together, he made a dash for the stairway and quickly ran to his car.

Outside, Gino tilted his head back to feel the gentle rays of the sun as they peeked through the grey skies. The air was balmy but crisp as the winds kicked up in waves and batted his suit tales as they crackled against his pants. Opening up his trunk Gino took out some old blue jeans and a flannel shirt to change into before going to the park to meet Kate.

Once back in the building to change Gino looked for a clock to find out the exact time. Gino never wore anything on his wrist let alone a watch, and had developed quite a talent for intuitively sensing what time it was. Yet, the weather, and the excitement of the meeting left Gino less trusting of his internal time clock today. Even though he had been down this hallway hundreds of times he wasn’t sure where he could find a clock.

Gino did find one outside the washroom where he planned on changing into his comfortable clothes. Just as he had expected he still had well over an hour before he was to meet Kate. Gino felt much more at home once he slipped his favorite flannel shirt on, and quickly ran outside like a child back to his mother after she had been gone for a couple of hours.

The events of the morning meeting were replayed by Gino as he drove his car to the park. Gino was always amazed at how aware he was of his environment when he was in one of his trances. Not only could he remember all the expressions on the faces of the people as they spoke, but he also could remember minor details simultaneously occurring in the environment during the discussions. Recounting the events of the morning was very similar to watching a video tape, for Winston’s words were accompanied by the thunder, the squeaking of a chair, and the flickering of the florescent lights.

What was truly amazing to Gino was that he was able to see in his mind things he could not have seen with his eyes. When he replayed the meeting in his mind, he often saw the expression on Kelsey’s face while he was talking to, and making eye contact with, Barry. Gino was never sure if this was totally an aspect of his imagination, or if his organic self was somehow able to perceive things that were not directly in his field of vision. What ever the case, Gino was always convinced these perceptions were as accurate as those he actually could remember seeing.

Even now as his mind raced through the morning’s events, Gino knew his body was aware of the smell of the air, the feel of the wheel, and the attitude of the afternoon. Gino knew that life was always being recorded and he could reflect on any passing event later on in the day. Intuition for Gino, was nothing more than body awareness. As long as he stayed open to the world around him, Gino felt confident his body would always guide him and unfold the day’s meaning to him.

The park was still quite damp when Gino arrived. The birds were busy catching worms who had to leave the saturated but still fairly hard spring earth. The swaying trees and chirping birds were the only sounds of the park on this spring afternoon. No laughing children, or creaking swings could be heard today, the park was desolate but friendly. The energy of spring whipped through the park with each and every gust of wind, and Gino took deep breaths with each and every gust.

Closing his eyes Gino remembered the feeling of being blown home from school by the strong March and early April winds. On those days, he recalled holding out his arms and using his wind breaker as a sail and feeling the center of his back being pushed by each gust. He remembered feeling like a stone being skipped across the water as he bounded home propelled by the wind. On other days he remembered walking in place as he tried to walk against the winds, while imagining he was treading across the desert sands during a windstorm.

Now Gino felt refreshed by the winds, as if the days tension and the stiffness of an aging body were being blown away. Each pore of his body felt invigorated and his watering eyes magnified the brightness of the sun now peeking through the clouds. His whole life felt like spring, a time for growth, a time of change. Gino walked in place against the wind and felt the weight of the past peel away as he made his way to the gazebo. Gino was very content and confident that the seeds he planted in this morning’s spring rain would soon change his landscape and begin a new stage of life for him and Kate.

At the gazebo, Gino gave his thoughts over to the wind and opened himself up to the splendor of the day. He knew Kate would want to hear all that had transpired in the meeting, and now he just wanted to empty himself and let the day fill up his spirit. Within seconds there was just the sound of the wind and the tingling sensation in the back of his neck as he lay on the floor of the gazebo. Bird sounds emerged from further and further back into the trees as he sank deeper and deeper into himself through throbbing pulses of inner silence.

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