Temptation comes in many forms, 30% off for one. -- Knitnan
Sale season was something Shayde was used to happening during the new financial year. Something that this new age didn't have. What they had, instead, was tax season. Which lead to the tax season charity sales. Excess stock that the companies could no longer afford to store, was to be sold at a discount to those who could otherwise not afford it.
Shayde, who could afford anything she liked now-a-days, still cruised the shopfronts sprawled through the commercial sector of the Elemeno. Econo-tourism, she called it. And it was, as far as Rael could ascertain, an excuse for her to practice anti-pickpocketing.
Dip-pocketing, her latest invention from Human Insanity, was the practice of adding money to someone's wallet or holdings without them noticing. Spare change dropped in the purse. And artfully-crumpled note inserted in the back pocket, that sort of thing. Always just enough for some otherwise-impoverished soul to be able to afford something nice that they could not otherwise afford. Even when it was on sale.
It was baffling. Shayde came from the 'Greed is Good' decade of Pre-Shattering Human history, when those who trampled the poor under their feet for short-term profit were the next best things to gods made flesh. By all rights, she should have been this era's answer to Ebenezer Scrooge. So, when Shayde took a break for lunch (tossing a handful of Minutes in the Take A Second Leave A Second dish like croutons into a salad) Rael took his chance.
"Why?" he said. "Given your history and background, you have no reason or inclination to be this generous. Why are you doing this and, more importantly, why are you doing it like this?"
"Yer lookin' at a person as if they're a nation. I did'nae have a typical upbringin' accordin' tae me generation pigeon-hole, ye ken. Raised by hippies. Wanderin' the world and helpin' folks out. Remember? I spent a lifetime outside o' the bell curve. And I got tae see a lot of folks at the bottom doin' what they could tae get one step ahead." She paused to hand a Two Year note to their server staff and murmur something in their ear. The look on their face said volumes about the gift. In a few minutes, tops, the entire Gyiik crew would sing a hymn to Nyohmnahm because Shayde had just paid for one flakk of a lot of meals for the impoverished. "And even worse fer any promises of havin' me head up me arse, we lived as they did while we were there. Havin' a bed was a luxury. So... I know what it's like tae strive an' scrape and make do. Not like many o' me own kind."
"And the 'like this'?" Rael prompted.
"There's a book I've been readin'," she said, in an apparent tangent. "Got a lot tae say about the strivin' sort. In it, there's this place. Cockbill street. A place where all they got is Standards, and where there's all but nowt on th' table, but by their gods, it's scrubbed. A place where th' kids eat first and sometimes they eat th' candles and never say a word about it. Where they skip school tae work and earn, and spend all their hours workin' their elbows off and are still called lazy by folks who push paper all day an' never sweated a day in their lives. I've been tae places like Cockbill street. Ye hand 'em a dollar an' they'll fookain kill ye fer the insult." She took a cleansing breath and a soul-settling bite of her cheesecake. "But let 'em find some money in their back kick? A plausible amount, ye ken. Two. Five. Mebbe as much as a tenner? It's a blessin' from the gods. Must'a slipped their mind. Providence gives when they need it th' most. I've already got what I need and a wee bit more fer what I want. The rest of it's no good tae anyone catchin' dust."
Once again, Rael doubted Shayde's grasp on how money was kept and circulated in the modern era. Things like a duck's money bin were works of pure fiction and, frankly, bad for the economy. "That's... not really how it works," he said, but with more than a modicum of doubt as to whether he was having his leg gently pulled.
"Aye. Metaphor. Sure, I could buy me a planet tae retire on an' all, but... that's no good tae anyone wi' nowt but a blanket on the floor and their dreams. So I take some dosh out an' practice random acts o' kindness. Sneaky-like." Another pause for cheesecake and tea. "It's no bother tae me an' me income, but it's a world o' difference to them on t'other side."
"That's a bizarre philosophy," he said. "Most who earn lots of cash prefer to keep hold of it."
Shayde snorted. "Money's just like sharks," she said. "Dead unless it's always movin." And then she lunged across a gap between tables to replace a religious screed as a tip with a Five Hour note. The screed went into a pocket with a glare at the one who'd left it there.
Rael had no doubt that that individual was going to get a taste of their own medicine. Served at zero kelvin and carefully calibrated to hurt the most. His only hope was to be there and at least make a vague attempt at holding her back. Mostly because the view promised to be fantastic.
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