“But, it’s the future, Frank,” Briggs kept talking. He was one of those uneasy types who couldn’t take silence, had to know what everyone was thinking all the time. Had to know that everyone liked him, thought he was a good guy. Frank said nothing. He watched as technicians placed the robotic drivers in the cabs of the trucks. Watched as wires and computer chips replaced flesh and blood. While a computer program, written by some kid who graduated from college when he was twelves years old because he was so god damned advanced, replaced the minds of men and women who had been around forever. Around before that kid was even a twinkle in the glisten of the moisture on his mother’s thighs. “These things are safe, reliable and, they never have to stop to take a piss.” Briggs laughed at his own joke, looking to Frank, hoping he would laugh too. He didn’t. Silence. Frank stood in silence watching the work, watching himself slip into obsolescence. “Anyway,” Briggs went on, “I’m truly sorry, Frank but, you know, it’s probably for the best.” This hit Frank like a kick in the balls.
“Really,” he said, Briggs a little taken aback by Frank’s voice, “and how would this be for the best?”
“Well,” Briggs said, conjuring up the well rehearsed, well polished speech that had been written for him by someone in legal. A speech that he had given to all the other drivers. The first few dozen went fast because those were the ones who didn’t care, who were happy to go. Then, it got tough. Briggs had to face the ones who liked driving, who liked their jobs. Then to the die hards who needed the job, needed the income. Even with the severance package that Noah Industries was handing out, these guys knew it wouldn’t last. One by one Briggs had given his speech, handed over the paper work, given the glad hand and checked another person’s name off the list. One by one until he got to Frank. “The severance package is good, Frank,” Briggs started his speech, making sure to use the name of the person who was standing in front of him, replacing the blank space that was written on the page in his mind. “your stubbornness in accepting the package actually worked out in your favor, you got a much sweeter deal than the rest of the drivers.”