3: On the Job
There are many situations in the workplace that discriminate against the Super-Powerless. It is unlikely that these discriminatory practices will become illegal any time soon, so the burden rests on us to inform the Super-Powered and take what actions we can in the face of unfair practices. Although this burden is unjust, we must view it as an opportunity to shed increasing light on Super-Powerism. Among the many disadvantages the Super-Powerless encounter on the job, the most subtle and insidious of the Super-Powers we are presumed to have is that of Alternate Universe Travel (a.k.a. Universe Walking).
It is important not to confuse Alternate Universe Travel with Time Travel, although these two powers are frequently elided. The Time Traveler has the ability to go back or forward in time changing the course of events in this universe, while the ability to traverse Multiple and/or Alternate Universes permits the traveler to act simultaneously in a number of different universes. A Super-Powerless individual will rarely, if ever, experience the effects of Time-Travelers’ activities, since the Super-Powerless cannot in principle follow along with Time Travelers. Changes in this universe caused by changes in the past will simply be experienced by the Super-Powerless as their own ordinary lives. This is not the case with respect to Alternate Universe Travelers’ actions. A Super-Powered individual acting in multiple universes simultaneously necessarily leaves behind the Super-Powerless in this universe, the only universe the Super-Powerless have. The Super-Powered presume that all other people, also having Super-Powers, have access to the other universes, but are mistaken in their presumption.
Recently, I was waiting on an email that was supposed to have an important file attached, a file containing a project that had to meet a deadline. Initially, I had no suspicions that I was dealing with a Super-Powered person, Carly, and no indication that she was a Universe Walker. Our email exchanges were concise and professional, and it seemed to me that the deadline would be met. Things started to unravel when I received an email late in the afternoon on the due date:
I have been trying for over an hour to send you the document, but the email keeps bouncing back to me. I don’t know what’s going wrong. I’ve tried reformatting it and sending it in several versions, but the same thing keeps happening. Unfortunately, I need to leave now so that I can pick up my father at the airport when his flight gets in. Sometime later on tonight, after I get my dad settled in, I’ll try emailing it to you again. I’ll definitely be able to get it to you tomorrow at the latest, even if I need to print it out and fed-ex it. You know how much this project means to me, and I will get it to you.
When I received this email, I responded immediately instructing Carly that in the circumstances she should copy and paste the content of the document into a reply email—even if it took several emails, and to attach any jpegs. We’d lose any special fonts, but she should indicate what they were. I would stay late and reconstruct the document, but the problem would be solved. Carly did not reply to my email.
The next morning, I figured I would find some response from Carly, maybe even the document itself in an attachment. There were many emails in my inbox, none from her, so I sent a copy of the email I sent the night before, ticking off HIGH PRIORITY. As lunchtime came around, there was still no response. No fed-exed document arrived. And there was no email response until very late in the afternoon. In this email, Carly claimed that late in the evening of the night before she had sent me the document. I checked my inbox, I ran inbox searches, I checked my Spam folder, I called CITS to double check my searches. There had been no email the night before from Carly. At least in this universe.
I could see at this point that Carly had most likely left her office the day before leaving behind this particular universe as well. Since I lacked the Super-Power of moving between Alternative Universes, I had not received the emailed document in this one. And I realized I was downwind from the storm. The powers-that-be got involved, since the document was late and they entered an angry exchange of phone conversations. My own power-that-be insisted upon the excellence of my past performances and my reliability with respect to my claim that Carly had not sent the document. On Carly’s end, her power-that-be likewise insisted on the excellence of Carly’s past performances and her honesty about sending the email. At this point, my power-that-be reported that Carly was in tears on account of my accusation, but she begrudgingly sent a copy of the file to her power-that-be in order to prove that she did, in fact, have the document on hand. Her power-that-be then emailed the document to my power-that-be directly. And so the situation was resolved. My power-that-be received the document, although it was without any input and editing from me. My Super-Powerlessness subjected me to discrimination on this count, and none of the powers-that-be involved seemed willing to acknowledge in any way the Super-Powerist presumption operating in the situation.
The bad news is that there is very little that any Super-Powerless person can do once immersed in a situation like this one. A Super-Powered individual may traverse any number of universes, barely keeping track of the ones in which emails and documents were sent. The ease of this Super-Power is remarkable. The "good news" is there's one sure-fire method I have found for coping with existing in only one universe at the workplace, which is utilizing external web-based document services. Google extends through multiple universes, making the Google doc platform useful for the Super-Powered and Powerless alike. The Super-Powerless may notice certain hesitancies particular individuals have with respect to requests to use this sort of service. Many times, in my experience, the Super-Powered will claim that they require “more freedom” and claim that they frequently work “beyond the reaches of the internet.” Uploading their drafts will prove to be a “huge hassle.” It is understandable that some alternate universes may lack internet wifi signals. Some may lack the internet altogether, yet it is easy enough for the Super-Powered to travel to a hot-spotted universe. I say, let the Super-Powered be a little bit hassled. It is only fair that the Super-Powerless have a level playing field in the workplace, despite their inability to access the playing field of all universes.