“But Mr Brain-” Choc protested. Norman Brain’s face distorted slightly on the huge video screen at the end of the lab.
“Don’t you ‘but’ me Miss Harvey.” Norman pointed for emphasis, “the brief explicitly said, and I quote from page four: ‘development of genotype for radish that can tolerate the climatic and growing conditions as given in Table 3’.” He thumped the brief onto his desk. “It says absolutely nothing about being able to cope with drought tolerance that would make the Sahara seem like an ocean, high salt levels in the soil or being able to harvest them in four feet of sea-water.” He leant forward across his desk. “Did you, or did you not, read and agree to this at the beginning of our contract?”
“Well, yes, of course I did. I just thought I’d develop it a little,” said Choc.
“You thought, huh? That’s your problem right there.” He pointed an accusing finger.“You’re not being paid to think Miss Harvey. You’re being paid to produce. That radish, that you have spent the last six months wasting your time and my money on, is to be grown in greenhouses across China – very sophisticated, highly accurate, temperature and climate-controlled greenhouses. Those radishes will never see sand, drought, salt, soil or anything else that nature can throw at them. They won’t need to.”
“I didn’t know,” Choc protested, throwing her hands up into the air.
“Of course not. You’re not being paid to know,” said Norman Brain, “and having broken our contract by failing to fulfill the brief, we won’t be paying you at all.”
“But that’s six months of my life lying there,” Choc pointed to the super-radish lying on the bench.
“At least you won’t go hungry,” said Norman, “I am displeased with you Miss Harvey. You have failed to meet two previous deadlines and now you have returned work that does not meet the agreed specification. I will instruct my personnel department to take your name off our list of preferred scientists.”
“Fine,” Choc folded her arms, “I’ll go elsewhere.”
“Given that we own 96% of the bio-research market Miss Harvey, I think you’ll find that a long walk. Don’t call us….” He cut the connection. Choc sat down at the bench with her head in her hands.
“Whiskey Miss Harvey?” Steve set down the glass on the bench beside her. Choc downed it in one gulp.
“You know, that ‘stiff drink after hearing bad news’ modification I gave you was one of the best things I ever did,” said Choc.
“Although given recent events it does make you look like an alcoholic,” said Steve retrieving the glass.