My name is Opportunity. I’m a Mars Rover, and still alive, whatever defamatory falsehoods may have been perpetrated by NASA’s recent announcement that I’m dead.
They say I went silent last June, after my solar panels got covered in a big dust storm and couldn’t generate enough power to keep me awake (their euphemism for alive). They claim they’ve been trying to get in touch with me ever since, but that I don’t answer.
Well, I’m awake and alive, baby, and pretty pissed off. Save the flowers and hold the eulogies!
So, I don’t answer, huh!? Well, maybe I don’t feel like answering!
Have you ever been to Mars? There’s not a lot going on. Sure, they kept me busy, collecting rock samples. But how would you like to spend 15 years collecting rocks and, just about every day, getting a call — Did you collect any samples today? Not, Hi, how’s the weather? or Gee, it’s good to hear your voice!
Of course I collected samples! It’s what I’m built for. It’s what I do! What else would I be doing? Catching a movie? Taking in a ballgame?
It’s not like I’m not proud that my rocks showed there was probably water on Mars a few billion years ago. But, how the hell does that float my boat? I bust my ass covering more miles than a marathon-runner, but do I get a sash or a medal or a spot on the podium? Bupkes!
Early on, I answered every single time they called. But it wasn’t always them. How long, expecting some friendly voice from mission headquarters, even if she’s just telling me to pick up some more rocks, can you tolerate the guy from the IRS calling about my questionable tax return, or the fellow asking for a donation to the Policemen’s Benevolent Association, or the chick telling me she wants to buy my house!? I don’t even have a goddam house to keep from freezing my butt!
You’d think an organization sophisticated enough to send me to Mars could work out some kind of screening system, like T-Mobile does with its Scam Likely notice!
I just turned it to silent and deleted the messages.
Sure, I’m a little touchy! But who wouldn’t be when, on top of everything else, you lose a partner like Spirit. She and I landed on Mars within three weeks of each other. Yeah, she was on the opposite side of the planet and getting together was problematic at best, but it was comforting just to know she was there, and occasionally mission control would help us pass messages.
They say she slipped into a sand trap and couldn’t pull herself out. What do they think we’ve got up here … golf courses? Yeah, maybe she was despondent she couldn’t break par and just jumped in. Sand trap, my ass!
And don’t forget, the two of us bailed out NASA big-time after they screwed up the Climate Orbiter because they used inches AND centimeters (repeat after me: One inch is not one centimeter). And then Mars Lander crashed. I think I’m worthy of a little more respect than Doesn’t answer!
And did they think that sending up another rover a few years ago would mollify me? Curiosity! What kind of name is that? Maybe an antique store in a Dickens novel? And what is this larger, more capable nonsense The Times is saying about him? When he’s got 28+ miles schlepping around this desert, we’ll talk about more capable over a drink (on him!).
OK, maybe I’ve been a little strong. You have to be to stick it out up here. And maybe they’ll just leave me here, but then, that was the plan all along. But, if they do colonize Mars, at least they better not forget I’m here. Maybe I could be like Mike Mulligan’s beloved steam shovel, Mary Anne, in retirement. I could be useful inside, out of the dust, free from calls, maybe a nice, shiny table for somebody’s rock collection.
If there’s one thing I know, it’s rocks!