Mateo returned from the depths of the city barely in time. He knew that the earthlings with the cultural exchange program would be here today and he had volunteered to take one in, but the air pumps for the lower market were down and he needed them fixed before he could leave. He didn't see them as he rushed inside and breathed a sigh of relief when he found that the earthling was not here yet. He sat down and tried to act like he hadn't just run all the way from the deep lift.
Johanna followed her escort out of the strange elevator-esque transportation contraption and down the hallway until they reached a door where they stopped and said their goodbyes. She watched her escort walk back the way they came for a minute, feeling a bit adrift, before adjusting the duffel bag on her shoulder, taking a deep breath, and knocking on the door.
Mateo leapt up and pulled the door open, holding his hand out for her to shake before realizing it was covered in grease. He wiped it on his pants and held it back out, only marginally less greasy.
"Hey! I'm Mateo, your cultural host. Come on in!"
Johanna took a half step back when the door slid open and a hand appeared in her face before disappearing and reappearing in quick succession. She blinked and took a moment to take in her host before reaching out slowly to shake his hand without a care for the grease.
"Hello... I'm Johanna O'Brien."
"Nice to meet you! Your room is right back there to the left, I can get your prints keyed in, the locks not set up yet, it'll take just a moment, you can throw your stuff in now if you like" With this he steps out of the doorway and heads into the apartment.
"Go ahead and get the internet passcode off the wallscreen while you're in here, if you want it for your proj-watch. Is there anything you need explained so far?" It's not really clear how he can talk this quickly for so long, but he shows no signs of slowing down. Or taking time to breathe.
Feeling a bit steamrolled and not being able to get a word in edgewise, she follows him into the apartment, sliding the door closed behind her, and looks towards where he indicated her room was.
Once she had fully parsed what he had said she snapped her head around to look at him, shocked. "You have internet?!" She made a note to herself to ask about the fingerprint lock and what a proj-watch was later, but focused on the most important point first.
"Of course I do! Does earth not have internet everywhere? What else don't you have, laundry chutes?" He shows no awareness that he is steamrolling her at all, though now he is somewhat baffled.
"I was able to access it at work and at school, but we couldn't afford to have internet at home and I had to save my phone's data for more important things." She is confused by the way he seems to think that internet access is universal. "And why would I have a laundry chute? Dirty laundry went in the hamper to be done with everyone else's on laundry day." It seems that the more he talks, the more confused she gets.
"You get internet through your earphone?? And are you saying you do your laundry yourself? You have to pay for internet? It comes with the housing unit here. Why do you work? You can't be out of high school yet." He's equally confused, but doesn't seem to realize the extent of her confusion.
"Earphone? No, I could get it using the data on my cell phone." She unzips a small side pocket on her bag and pulls out her phone to show him. "I wish internet came with the house. And of course I do my own laundry. It's not like we could afford a washer much less a laundry service." Her tone shifts towards snarky as she starts becoming defensive.
"I've been working since I was twelve to help support my family, but I'm definitely still in high school. I mean, I could be out of school if I wanted to, but I want to try to get into college so I can get access to more books on history. It's part of why I volunteered for this program in the first place."
"Cell phone? Never heard of those. Is that it? Is it like a wall screen in your hand? I can't imagine not having internet. What's a laundry service? 12 year olds are allowed to work? Why do they let 12 year olds work? That's very illegal here. You couldn't leave school here either. Why can't you get history books? What else is hard to get, diamonds?"
"Yeah, this is it. It's like a little computer that you can use to call people. I only have a cheap pre-paid, though. A laundry service is where you hire someone to do your laundry for you." She is happy to explain things for him when he's not bombarding her with new and confusing concepts, but gets defensive again when he seems to be insulting her family's need for her to work. "You try feeding nine people and keeping a roof over your heads on two factory workers' paychecks. Not to mention trying to put aside some money to pay for college! Sometimes making money takes precedence over going to school! At least I was still going for half days! My brother dropped out entirely as soon as he was able to join our parents at the factory!" Her face was slowly getting redder and her voice rising in volume and pitch as her rant picked up steam before hitting a peak at his comment on diamonds. "Diamonds?! Diamonds?!! As if you could even begin to compare history books to diamonds! If we could have afforded diamonds I wouldn't have been having to work!!"
"Ooh, cool, we don't have those, we have proj-watches and wallscreens! I don't hire someone to do my laundry for me, they work for the city just like I do. What, do you fix your own air pumps too? How is feeding your family hard? What about housing and food credits, even if you don't make any money you can keep everyone housed and fed! What job are you gonna go into? And won't they pay for your college? You can drop out of high school? Diamonds are cheap! They're what you get stuff made of when you can't afford plastic! I have diamond cups! Hey, you want dinner? I bought hamburgers!" He seems very excited about the hamburgers, as though they are a very special treat.
"As if the rich schmucks would ever worry about whether or not their workers were housed and fed. As long as they don't have to give up anything they couldn't care less what happened to us! Even if I do manage to get through college and get into history and museum sciences like I want to I'll still have to pay off all my student loans, 'cause it's not likely that I'll manage to get much of any scholarships, much less a full-ride, and I won't get paid that much more than my parents are making anyway, so I'd probably end up having to get at least a second job, if not a third to help pay for everything!" As she talks about her plans for the future, she realizes that she doesn't know if she'll be able to follow her career plans now that she's on Mars and tears start to well in the corners of her eyes. "And now I don't even know if I'll be able to do any of that and I can't even talk to my family and I don't know anyone here yet and-and-and-" she breaks down into sobs and drops down onto the floor to bury her face in her knees as it fully hits her that she's on a planet far away from home with an entirely different culture and no way to contact anyone she knows.
"WHAT THE FUCK? There's no one to protect you from rich people and their fucked up money games? There's nothing in place to keep those assholes from fucking you all over? Does no one on earth care about people? I thought when we made contact it meant earth was better than it was when the revolution happened! You shouldn't even have to pay for college if you need it for your job! You shouldn't need to get payed more then your parents are making, factories are good work! And you don't have to do any of that now, you can just finish high school and your job will pay for college! I will find a way for you to talk to your family! And...you don't know me well but I am here for you and I'll help you. Do you want dinner or do you want to go to your room now? Do you want a cross for your room? I don't know if you're religious but I've got one I can let you borrow if it'll help." He trails off after and, seeming to slow down for the first time since she has met him, finally seeming to react to the emotions of the person speaking to him. HIs voice has gone softer and quieter now.
Hearing him get upset on her behalf caused her tears to slow and she peeked up at him over her knees with red-rimmed eyes, comforted by his reassurances. He kind of reminded her of her older brother and the way he would rail against the upper class whenever things got particularly bad, but would always be there for her even if he was a little rough around the edges. When she spoke, it was quiet and a little scratchy from where she had been crying. "A cross for my room would be nice, but...," she takes a hiccuping breath, "could I maybe have a hug, please?" She looked incredibly young as she looked up through her damp lashes hopefully while still curled into a ball on the floor.
He kneels down on the floor next to her and cautiously pulls her to him, hugging her without fully pulling her out of being curled up.
"Of course you can have a hug. When would you like dinner?" His voice is still softer and slower than it was at first, as though he isn't quite sure what about him upset her and wants to be sure not to do it again.
She uncurls enough to hug back and speaks into his chest. "Thank you. Dinner would be nice, but in a moment." She holds on to him and just sits and breathes for a long moment before pulling back to wipe at her face and give him a small smile that's a little wobbly around the edges. "Okay. I'm ready now."
"I got hamburgers! Go put your stuff in your room while I get started on it, what would you like on them? I have tons of different stuff!" As he says this he jumps up from the floor and walks quickly in to the kitchen.
"I know you might not want to talk about cultural differences right now but if there's anything about the housing unit that's confusing I should probably explain it tonight so ask away!" He has resumed his loud, fast-paced manner of speech now.