Thursday, September 3, 2015

Manicured Invader (Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge)

In early August 1970, there were perhaps 100 undergraduates in Mining Engineering at my school, none of them female. In fact, in that year, there only a dozen female undergraduates in the entire school.

Mining Engineering is the "founding option" at CSM. Even the student body's unofficial logo, a grizzled prospector, and our teams' mascot, a miner's pack-burro named "Blaster," referred to the option. We miners in our all-boys club felt compelled to be the epitome of scuzzy tech:
Engineers with dirty ears, building dams and bridges, who wipe their ass with broken glass and laugh because it itches.

But August 1970 was the turning point: 30 women in the freshman class nearly quadrupled the number of women at Mines, and two freshman women had announced for the Mining option. By Spring 1971, there were three women in Miningan elegant blonde sophomore named Sandy had switched into Mining from Mathematics.

Sandy perhaps wasn't the kind of immigrant Charli was considering when she gave us the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge prompt this week, but this is the invasion of a different culture that has most obviously impacted my life, not least because I met my spouse at Mines.

September 2, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that shows the interaction of a migrant culture on the place of migration. It can be the reverse, too, such as a migrant picking up on local customs. The idea is to explore exchanges.

For everyone fearful that the influx of the new and strange will destabilize the current culture, I offer my observations.


Manicured Invader

Sandy tapped the stress graph with an elegantly-polished fingernail. "That rock isn't strong enough for 20% pillars," she said coldly. 

Doug prepared to use his football-linebacker tactics to lead the rock lab team, the fifth time he'd steamrollered Sandy's input on this project on the basis "the girl" hadn't run any of the rock-breaking tests herself.

"Wait, men! Um... people," Colin's African bass squeaked suddenly, a blush on his blue-black face.  "My calculations agree with hers. Do you want to win arguments? Or pass the course?"

Sandy lifted an expertly-penciled eyebrow, and Doug caved. We went with her conclusions. A+.