David Yamagata was easy to overlook.
Two inches shorter and two years younger than his brilliant first-born brother, David was the family embarrassment. His brother went to the right university, studied in the right field, went on to the right graduate school and is celebrated by the family at Christmas Dinner for his accomplishments.
After his parents finish lauding praise on his sibling who is breaking ground in cancer research at MD Anderson, the aunties and uncles turn to David. “And what are you doing?” they ask with a knowing look. They expect David to disappoint. He always has.
It’s sort of an obligation David has come to accept. He is the example of what might have happened to his older brother if his parents hadn’t been as demanding. His brother got the attention and was rewarded for performing. David was the second best, and clearly that wasn’t very good at all. In his parents’ eyes David couldn’t possibly achieve to his brother’s standards, so after a while, they began to ignore him.
David went to college and studied computer science, which he thought would please his father. But it didn’t. Gradually David’s grades began to slip. If they didn’t care, why should he? In time his parents’ disinterest turned to disgust as he barely passed his courses and fell to the bottom of the class ranks.
David moved far from home, beyond his family’s scolding eyes, and looked for a job.
He applied – twice – for a programming position at Goliad. They were developing the BCI, a brain-computer interface, which was going to completely change the internet. Research had been ongoing for decades connecting electric signals to the brain to give amputees control of mechanical limbs and hearing implants for the deaf. Goliad’s BCI reached deeper into the brain’s thought processes and actually gave someone sight – not of the world around them (though that could be done, too), but of the internet. Wearing a BCI behind your ear meant immediate access to anything and everything on the internet.
When the product was released last year, video gamers went nuts. It was a dream come true for anyone wishing to live a virtual life. Pre-orders for the devices exceeded even Goliad’s optimistic forecasts. And the rush by programmers to develop software for Goliad overwhelmed any possibility David had for employment.
Disrespected by his family, tight on cash, and seemingly failing to the outside world he had nothing to lose. He applied for every opening at Goliad until he was finally hired.
As the janitor.
David usually started his night shift cleaning Helen Mirisch’s office. A power broker in her fifties, she was not only unusual for her shocking white hair but for being a female CEO of a computer company. Helen traveled extensively, though tonight as David entered her office she was engrossed in a teleconference with the founder of the company, Brian Ingram.
She barely noticed David as she opened a small brown package and pulled a used BCI device from a plastic bag.
“Did you get the package?” Ingram asked.
“Right here,” she held it up to the camera.
“It was found in last week’s raid,” Ingram said solemnly. “Find the owner. We’ve got to stop this.”
Helen glanced at David as he emptied her trash into his rolling canister. He didn’t look at her since since he was embarrassed to be dumping her trash, and he had no idea what to say. She returned to her conversation, assuming David probably doesn’t even speak English.
“I’ll take care of it,” she answered Ingram.
David rolled out of Helen’s office and noticed a coffee stained manual for BCI Application Development that had fallen from the bottom of Helen’s trash to land atop David’s collection. He looked around the room; everyone was buried in their laptops.
Unnoticed, David pocketed the manual in his coveralls. He’d finally found the golden ticket to a better life.