I know you’re my department head. I’ve seen the emails that we’re all supposed to return to work by August 3rd. I’ve also seen the Slack and email threads full of people complaining about how this is “unfair,” “unconstitutional,” and “will impact my day drinking.” Unlike everyone else, I’m willing to return to work without a problem…provided I can wear the robotic safety suit I designed in quarantine.
While everyone was stocking up on water and toilet paper like the pandemic was going to turn every town into a water poor, diarrhea rich wasteland, I was teaching myself the fundamentals of robotic engineering. I’d spend all day remotely heading up the call center, and then read advanced mathematical proofs at night after strapping my husband into bed to help with his night terrors. My first breakthrough came when I designed a set of buckles he couldn’t chew through. From there, I built two robotic limbs that would help our cute/ugly small dog to walk, made something that would keep the washer from going off balance, and built my suit.
At first I wasn’t sure if I had gone mad. The suit came to be only because I told my husband we could throw a big party so he could have his friends over to look at the boat in the driveway while holding beer cans and nodding in awe. All he’d need to do was help me to weld my baby. I stood in front of the mirror for hours, both admiring my ingenuity and wondering why all exoskeletons could either leave the head exposed, or have it be so that I was, like, sitting in some sort of bubble. Taking a breath, I decided it was time to test it out. I texted my sister that I had something to share, and it wasn’t that I’d decided to transition from blonde to dirty blonde like she had guessed.
We met up at Whole Foods. I was anxious at first, thinking I had made a huge mistake as people passed by me quickly, shielding their children’s eyes, or quickly ran screaming to their Priuses and Hyundai Elantras. This was around Halloween, and someone holding a fake lantern started chanting “burn the monster,” but gave up after no one joined, and asked me to move so they could get into their Amazon locker. When my sister showed up, she was admittedly surprised, but listened to me as I explained that this exoskeleton was my sourdough starter, my pretending to enjoy puzzles all of a sudden, my renting out a theatre to see Tenet and telling people the movie was good, even though it was the opposite.
She wasn’t sure how to feel, but when I used my built-in megaphone to tell everyone the mask goes over the mouth and nose, she was sold. We’d never seen so many people be smart at the same time so quickly! I’ve worn the suit everyday since, making use of the cute basket in the suit’s left wrist to procure groceries, and the 90s r&b playlist and noise cancellation option for when I ask if my husband really wants to get strapped in right away after Colbert’s monologue. Really, the only downside is that people always think it can fly. It can’t! I tried to figure out how it could, but I had to just buy a moving van, and change into the suit when I get to wherever it is I’m going.
So, yes. I’m willing to return to work. But I need to be able to wear the suit. Not only is it where I keep my debit card and vaccination passport, it’s also what makes me feel confident my male coworkers won’t take credit for my ideas.