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Welcome to SFCO

By Tim McDaniel
May 3, 2020 · 2,044 words · 8 minutes

Photo by Bernard Hermant via Unsplash.

From the author: A useful handbook for new employees of SFCO, An excerpt: "Some employees may be asked to fill out a short self-evaluation form, while others may be challenged to fight to the death in the sand pits (on the second floor, just past Gary’s office).  Others may be required to write and perform quarterly operettas, declamations, artfully staged writhings, or tragic performances that will play on the heartstrings (only sometimes literally) of supervisory staff."

Welcome, new employee, to the Superior Firms family of companies!

We are gratified that you have joined us.  However, as we are sure you (singular, and/or plural and/or indefinite) are aware, in a company as extensive and diverse as ours, we must ensure that all of our personnel maintain a constant awareness of the needs of the administration as well as the needs of labor in order to maintain our high levels of productivity and to avoid unnecessarily costly lawsuits and funeral expenses.  We hope this short manual will prove informative regarding a few of the basic concerns you should be cognizant of as you begin your workcycle with us.

  • Recruiting

SF is determined to attract the best  -- such as you! -- to our workforce. We therefore make strenuous efforts to attract potential employees.  Open positions are advertised on subwave, hyperwave, sidewave, radio, X-ray, and psi frequencies, and printed in paper, plastic, titanium, flesh, and glass formats. We also, of course, encode the notice in strands of DNA, to be injected into prospective employees – such as you!  -- their sexual partners, and/or their predator and/or prey species (interns have proven invaluable in this respect).  Additionally, if it is possible that a native of Fomalhaut IV will be accepted for employment, the advertisement is, of course, spelled out using the bones of the dreaded Gorgol Fish.  We spare no effort to make sure we get the best – such as you!

  • Interviewing

When possible, it is standard practice here at SF to interview prospective employees in person. Standard environmental accommodations are provided, and if the interviewee is from Aldebaran II, where the ruling caste communicates using controlled farting, a random selection process is undertaken to determine which member of the staff will conduct the interview, should no intern be available or conscious.

Keep in mind that, regardless of the species involved, there are some questions we cannot legally ask – about sex, sexual preference, religion, political leanings, clan status, level of blood toxicity, or cannibalism, for example.  And we must stress that we cannot refuse to hire someone because of the gasses they need to breathe, the gasses they need to emit, their molting practices, or the involuntary lashing out of clawed, poisonous tentacles.  We are an enlightened, 24th-Century company, and pride ourselves on our non-discrimination policies, so if you feel you have been asked an inappropriate question, or have been unfairly denied an opportunity to work with us, please contact us with your concern! Unless you’re one of those bozos from Procyon IX that hum all the time.

  • Benefits

This must necessarily be a flexible area, and responsible staff members work strenuously to ascertain the reasonable needs of each employee, and pass the ensuing recommendations on to the Great Computer (your magnetic link) on the nineteenth floor (just past the main cafeteria – ask Carol when you get lost).

Some employees, of course, have different lifecycles: some work continuously for twelve days, and then sleep for six, while others work only in 20-second increments.  Some need time off to molt or pupate or mutate or whatever the hell they do on Algol VIII.  Some, whose teeth replace themselves, or who have no teeth at all, will have no need of dental benefits.  Others refuse to accept any health benefits whatsoever because of a belief that the weak should die, preferably impaled on a filthy stick.  (These beings, incidentally, are not allowed time off for mourning.  So don’t ask.)  Those from low-gravity environments may need prosthetic assistance when working on other planets, while those from high-gravity worlds may need a brain implant that regularly impels the being to shout out warnings so as to not inadvertently crush other beings or expensive equipment.

Note, however, in all cases, at least at the present time, occurrences in which an employee is inconvenienced, damaged, or killed through the lashing out of clawed, poisonous, and venomous tentacles is not covered under any of our current medical plans.

  • Compensation and Contractual Obligations

Compensation (monetary, social, territorial, sexual, dietary, or virtual) and contractual obligations will vary considerably, dependent to a large extent on species-specific considerations as well as personal qualities and agreements.  However, it should be noted that a hive-mind being is entitled to only one paycheck; its individual components are not entitled to compensation.  Speak to your supervisor if you are uncertain as to whether or not you are actually owed what you think you are due.

Employees must be trained to accept that some of these obligations may, in the light of certain value systems, seem unfair.  Yes, it may be true that a corner office may be considered treasured because of the view from its windows, massage chairs, and sexual-stimulation carpets, but one must accept that residency in such an office may be due to an individual for reasons of seniority, rarity, appearance, value, or ferocity, even if that individual is a member of a subterranean civilization who requires that the office be filled with dirt, stones, and the bones of its vanquished siblings, obstructing the view that others might find so pleasing.  And this is true even though such a person would hardly find much use for the sex rug.  Of course I am talking about Phil.

Extra compensation may be due to certain employees for various reasons – for example, if they must work with a co-worker who is from Aldebaran II, where messages are communicated using controlled farting, or in close proximity with a co-worker who occasionally and involuntarily lashes out with clawed, venomous, pus-squirting  tentacles.

  • Training and Mentoring

We at SF recognize the value that our employees bring, not only to the workplace, but to their fellow workers, and we have several aggressive (in some cases, mandatory, although often, sadly, potentially lethal) training and mentoring programs in place.

These programs are a source of pride for Superior Firms, but of course each is also fraught with attendant pitfalls. Such is life.

Cross-species clashes are inevitable, and – contrary to accepted wisdom – need not necessarily be a direct and legally provable cause of permanent and debilitating mental mutilations.  In many cases, they are not even fatal, except when one is subjected to the involuntarily malicious lashing out of barbed, slimy, poisonous, venomous tentacles, or on occasions when one finds oneself crushed under the weight of a dislodged bone of the dreaded Gorgol Fish.

It must be kept in mind that cross-species difficulties can also lead to personal and commercial breakthroughs and, therefore, better morale.  How else would we have developed a cure for Horoton Genital Rot, and how else would we have eventually refined the cure so as to prune away much of the associated disfigurements?  How else would we have come to realize the inexplicable dangers and unutterable joys of debating fashion eccentricities with a Dovissian?  How else, indeed, would SF’s entire system of flatulence-based advertising (already very popular and lucrative on Aldebaran II, and now being exported to a number of other stellar systems) ever have been conceived? And yes, the frequent, sticky secretions of the residents of Altair VII are occasionally irritating and usually instantly lethal, but who knows?  They might be good for something.  Maybe you will be the one to exploit this apparently-hideous habit!

Of course, certain minimum standards can be expected.  Care is maintained to insure that one species does not require or expect another to follow its own cultural standards as regards diet, cleanliness, mating (type, frequency, or venue), noise, smell, workspace decoration, regurgitation of the bones of vanquished siblings, and so on.

  • Evaluations

Employees must expect to be periodically evaluated, to guarantee that the company is getting the full value that it has the right to expect, and to provide for each worker the companionship of others who have been determined, scientifically and impartially, to be of greater value than the equivalent amount of compost (you must check out our amazing rooftop garden!) in order to raise the productivity and retention of valuable staff members (or, at the very least, the retention of certain body parts of such employees).

These assessments may take various forms.  Some employees may be asked to fill out a short self-evaluation form, while others may be challenged to fight to the death in the sand pits (on the second floor, just past Gary’s office).  Others may be required to write and perform quarterly operettas, declamations, artfully staged writhings, or tragic performances that will play on the heartstrings (only sometimes literally) of supervisory staff.

  • Employee Disputes

Workers will, at times, come into conflict – physical, psychical, sexual, emotional, psychological, aural, oral, psychic, ideological, or olfactory – with other employees.  Maybe an employee inadvertently steps on an egg sac filled with corrosive pus.  A worker might interpret another employee's nose-blowing as an invitation for immediate and painful sexual congress.  Possibly an employee will become trapped in a fellow-worker's slime trail, or fall unwilling victim to a colleague’s degenerate hallucinatory effusions.

Usually, these conflicts can be quickly and efficiently resolved in favor of the employee who provides a greater contribution to the company.  However, at times this may be impossible to establish, and other methods must be brought into play.

In some cases, the employees in the dispute may be compelled to meet with a Conflict Resolution Specialist, often in concert with extensive and excruciating brain scans or dissections. In other cases, disputants may be obliged to fight to the death in the sand pits (on the second floor, just past Gary’s office, or weren’t you paying attention?), or they may be gently reminded of the necessity of the surgical removal of vexing scent glands, perfidious poison sacs, or bothersome brain lobes.

Our goal is a happy work environment. Or, where that is not possible, at least an environment which encourages relatively harmless teeth gnashing over the voluntary lashing out of venomous, clawed tentacles, accompanied with manic laughter.

  • Harassment

Our company has vigilant, strictbut prudently ambiguous policies on various types of harassment (racial, sexual, telepathic, sticky, religious, or flatulentory, to name a few).  In general, harassment is frowned upon.  Yes, most of us can agree that the beliefs of the inhabitants of Fomalhaut IV’s southernmost continent concerning the dreaded Gorgol Fish are outlandish, childish, and dangerous, but we shouldn't say anything about their puerile practices, or compare them to the reasonable and laudable celebrations of the dreaded Gorgol Fish conducted by the residents of the north and the east. In the same way, we have to pretend not to notice the awful smell of the natives of Aldebaran II, or complain about the Zagwalish custom of eating the elderly (their own as well as others), despite the noise and mess.

Any employee who suspects harassment should immediately meet with our company's Harassment Control Officer. But if you do so, don't say anything about the Gorgol Fish bones mounted on the wall.

  • Workers Compensation for Wrongful Death Claims

The company requires a diverse workforce to maintain profitability.  However, working at SF naturally entails inherent risks.  Our employees understand that working in a multicultural environment includes exposure to abhorrent gasses, dislocating jolts, carnivorous colleagues, things that look adorable until you lick them, spontaneous unhuman combustion, disreputable characters that you should not attempt to poke or prod, and other risks.  For this reason, employees are not eligible for workers’ compensation or wrongful death claims.  What with all the involuntary lashing out of clawed, venomous tentacles hereabouts, we'd never turn a profit otherwise!

            Once again, we would like to welcome you to the Superior Firms family.  However long you manage to survive in your new position, we do hope that your time with us will be pleasant, or is at least not mind-bendingly agonizing as you wait for the happy meds to finally kick in.

Note:  Superior Firms welcomes all potential employees and foodstuffs. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, species, subspecies, pod clan affiliation, level of solidity, gender, sex, sexual orientation, color, psi aptitude, smell, size, shape, dietary requirements, dietary preferences, texture, veteran status, or degree of opacity.

All hail the dreaded Gorgol Fish.



This story originally appeared in Outposts of Beyond.