Things Do Work Out for the Best!

February 22, 2008
By Jessica Dagen, Brno, ZZ

“So the emergency evacuation button is malfunctioning, right?”
A nod.
“And so that’s why he gets frustrated and his blood pressure goes up, right?”
Another nod.
“Great work, Mollee. I don’t know what we’d do without you,” Professor Greeves chuckled as he and Mollee, the chimp, slapped a high five. Mollee grinned and Bundee, the lab chimp who was having some problems in the flight simulator, was led away by his owner.
“Hey Mollee, Professor G.,” a handsome young blond came sauntering up the hall.
“Hey, Jim,” Professor Greeves greeted. Mollee replied with an enthusiastic wave and a leap into Jim’s waiting arms. Jim laughed, “Hungry, old girl?” He ducked as Mollee playfully swatted him – she disliked the name “old girl.”
”Well, see you later, Professor, “ Jim turned and hurried down the hall to the cafeteria.
They stood in line at the cafeteria trying to decide what to have for lunch.
“Ooh,” Jim said to the cashier, “ I’ll take one of those triple fudge brownies, too. “ A tug at his shirt made him look down to where Mollee stood. She shook her head, wrote the number six in the air, and tapped her wrist as if to look at a watch. With a sigh and a little laugh, Jim nodded. “You’re right, Mollee, no dessert until dinnertime.” Turning back to the cashier he said, “Sorry, scratch that. I’ll take a small Greek salad instead.”
After devouring half of the pasta carbonara he’d ordered, Jim sat back in his chair and said, “Ok, I’ve eaten enough so I can talk now. Tell me about your day, munchkin.” Mollee excitedly began to pantomime and act out the different events of her morning shift. She told Jim of a new lab chimp named Abby and how they figured out why Bundee’s heart rate sped up whenever he was in the flight simulator. Jim laughed when Mollee acted out how a worker who had been working on a shuttle piece had dropped a power drill on his toe and started hopping around, holding his foot until he finally tripped and fell into a barrel of some white powder.! The display started some other people guffawing, which made Mollee act even more exaggeratedly, until the whole cafeteria was bursting at the seams with laughter.
Finally Jim took Mollee by the hand and led her outside to the car. “Time to go see good ol’ number thirteen go meet the heavens, kiddo,” he said as he buckled Mollee into her car seat. (Apollo 13 was to lift off that afternoon and most of the workers at NASA were given time off from duty to see it lift off.)
They drove out to the launch pad site and got to their designated employee seats. It would be a while ‘till the shuttle would lift off, so they got settled into their seats.
Jim could see that Mollee was remembering how she was supposed to be going on the Apollo 13 voyage. She remembered the terrible flight simulator accident when the battery blew up. Thankfully all that had happened to Mollee was that she got a cracked skull and a broken leg, but one of her comrades’ spine was broken and the other was instantly killed. Sometimes she still had nightmares about it, but the worst thing that came of it was that she was no longer able to ever go up into space anymore because her leg hadn’t healed properly. She’d been bumped from the Apollo 11 voyage and had been rescheduled for Apollo 13; but then the accident happened and her dream of going to space was shattered. Not Apollo 13, never.
Jim and Mollee had been with each other for so long that it was as if they could read each other’s thoughts.
“You’re thinking about the accident, aren’t you?” Jim asked gently. Mollee hesitated, then nodded her head miserably and swung her legs. Jim sighed. Mollee knew that he would never understand the depths of her sorrows and frustration; she knew he tried his very best to understand, and he was so sympathetic. Mollee felt badly about burdening him with her sadness. She wrapped her long arms around his shoulders and he smiled.
The rockets engines were fired. Everyone looked at it with awe. The steel supports fell and an amazing amount of debris flaked from the shuttle.
It looked as if the whole bottom half of the rocket was submerged in billowing clouds of flame.
The ground rumbled and shook and all the spectators were scared to death – both for their safety and that of the astronauts.
And then it flew.
It shot up sky-high. The spectators watched in pure fascination and amazement. Then cheers arose and hats flew up into the air.
“Yes!” Jim shouted as he and Mollee danced around with pure joy. Jim was glad that Mollee was able to be happy about this.
After the commotion died down Jim announced, “Well, we don’t get the paycheck if we don’t work, right, kiddo?” Mollee swung up around his neck and they drove back to work.
Back at NASA everyone was smiling and grateful for the successful Apollo 13 liftoff.
Mollee gathered up her spirits and ambled off toward her wing. When she got there Professor Greeves hurried up to her, all smiles. “I’ve got a special surprise for you,” he said as he led her to his office.
“Mollee, meet Jesse,” Professor G. said as he led her inside. Sitting in a chair was another chimpanzee!
“Jesse’s a new lab chimp. He’s scheduled to go up on the Apollo 16 voyage.” He looked closely at Mollee with a twinkle in his eye. “Mollee, I’ve chosen you to be Jesse’s manager! You’re my very best chimp and I need someone special for him. He’s all yours!”
Just then Jim came bursting into the office. “Mollee, I heard the great news! Aren’t you just stoked?” Mollee answered by doing cartwheels across the floor and leaping into his arms. Jim laughed.
It suddenly dawned on Mollee that if she’d gone on the Apollo 13 voyage, she wouldn’t have been able to train Jesse! She’d have a major role in Apollo 16 – not directly, but indirectly. It would be a lot of fun, and she felt honored that Professor G. would choose her above all everyone else!
Maybe, she thought, all things actually do work out for the best!

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