When I wrote Sperm Donor for a Cosmic Paradox, I intended for it to be a one off story. For every reader who wanted more from the story, I humbly thank you. I really wasn’t prepared for the question what happens next? So I gave my readers the obtuse answer, “I guess you’ll just have to wait for the next one.” After giving the obtuse answer more times than I care to count, I realized I more or less committed myself to seeing this story through to completion. So here is the next installment in the series. As for what happens after Customer Service Scientist, I guess you’ll have to wait for the next one.
Len’s decision to enter the field of genetics was a mistake quantifiable by the noose around his neck, his hands bound around his back, and a horse under his haunches. He’d seen the horse hangman death hundreds of times in movies and television, but the actual reality was quite different. The rope burned his neck and hands. The sun drained the spit from his mouth and scorched his pasty white skin. The horse let out a snort. Len only recently learned to ride a horse, and muscles he never knew existed ached just by being on the horse.
He was used to sitting at a desk. His shoulders were hunched, his eyesight was poor, and his hands had the beginning stages of carpal tunnel. Len’s aspirations as a geneticist didn’t really involve any sort of desk jockeying. He started college in the nineties at a California State school. During his freshman year, President Bill Clinton announced that they had officially decoded the human genome, and Len knew he wanted to be a part of it. He declared his major in the sciences and continued for a PHD with a focus on genetics. He pooped out and the school gave him a master’s degree for the time served.
PHDs would consider his mater’s a failure but his family considered it a triumph. As the son of a restaurant manager and a medical assistant, Len was the successful one. As a geneticist, he was at the bottom. Most people pictured scientists as people working in a lab, surrounded by high tech equipment. He had the same impression during his freshman year in college. Len pictured himself in a white lab coat, explaining to President Bill Clinton about the important work Len was doing. Genome sequencing by the time Len got involved was less laboratory and more computer sequencing. He would interpret graphs and numbers all day.
Len worked for a company that provided cheap genetic heredity tests by the thousands. Most of the lab work was done in India where even skilled labor was a bargain. Most of the results were interpreted by the doctors in India and Len really acted as drone to double check the work of a perfectly competent workforce. The tests only came across his desk when customers had a question and/or most likely a complaint about their results package in the mail. Customers felt better when a person with some official looking credentials from their own country of origin checked the work. Even though the Indian workforce was just as skilled, the company hired Len to make people feel better about their results.
That meant all of Len’s education and study dedicated to genetics, even though short of a PHD, was really just to be a customer service scientist. There was very little science involved. He looked at a test and explained the results. That was until he got the test. It was the only test to ever come across his desk that added any sort of excitement or interest to his work. Most genetic tests were pretty straightforward. Every person had a percentage breakdown of their ethnic origins and places where their ancestors came from. For the most part, his job was to officially tell someone the family lore about the Irish relative and the Cherokee decedent were actually incorrect because their genes didn’t lie about their English, German, and French ancestry. Despite Len’s fancy sounding master’s degree and the high level of accuracy of the test, people still didn’t believe him. He realized pretty early that he couldn’t argue with family lore even when family lore was wrong.