Tuib Ferret: Well I was living in a small town about 100 km north of the border, and my daughters were getting close to that dangerous age, as we call it up there. I didn't want to shoot them, and I didn't want them to kill me. I heard that they were paying Gens for their selyn in-T, and that if you immigrated, they'd give you a settler's bonus. Times were pretty hard, and mostly I couldn't find work. So I figured I could come down here and get by until the girls grew up.
Times: Weren't you afraid to come down here to "Demon Land"? Did you think you might be killed?
Tuib Ferret: Oh, that "Demon Land" business! That's Church of the Purity talk. We're not all that crazy up there, you know! I knew that the Simes down here were all living on channel's transfer, and that there were Sime Centers everywhere, so there were no berserkers. I figured it was safer here for a Gen than most places out-T.
Times: But you must have been afraid at the border when you had to make a donation to come in-T.
Tuib Ferret: No, I wasn't afraid at all, because that wasn't the first time I'd donated. I was in the Gen Army at the Siege of Shen, and I made my first donation on the first Faith Day. I'll admit I was pretty nervous then, but they lined us all up, and the channels went right down the ranks. By the time they got to me, I was more bored and cold than scared. Besides, I could see that they hadn't killed all the other guys -- why would they start with me?
Times: So it was just routine for you at the border then?
Tuib Ferret: Well, not quite routine. It turned out that my oldest girl had established, and she was a bit nervous, so I asked the channel if she'd do me first so my daughter could watch and see that it was no big deal. That worked out okay, and we got the two donation payments and first installments on two settler's bonuses instead of one and that really helped us get by. But the real funny part was before that when the border guard started filling out the papers. He was laughing and got the other guys out of the back office and showed them the papers and they all started laughing too. My Simelan wasn't too good, so I had to ask him to explain to me in Genlan. He said that they'd never had a cartload of Farris Gens come over the border before. I didn't quite get it -- I mean I knew about Klyd Farris, but the area where I grew up had lots of Farrises, most of them my relatives I guess, and I didn't think there was much to it. But they said it would cause a lot of confusion if we called ourselves Farris, so I decided to change our name to Ferret. When I was a kid I used to like to go out on the prairie and sometimes I'd see a black-footed ferret in the prairie dog towns. They were nice little animals, and besides, my wife used to tell me sometimes I was a real weasel! So Ferret it was.
Times: Aha! Now I can tell everybody that I've interviewed a Farris Gen running trin carts.
Tuib Ferret: You just send them to a Hungry Nager trin cart, and they might meet a Farris Gen themselves!
Times: So how did you get into the trin cart business?
Tuib Ferret: Well, we decided to settle in Capital, since we were told it was the biggest town around and there was lots of work, but when I got down here I found out that nobody would hire a Gen to do manual labor, and even if I had a good in-T education, I probably couldn't get much of a job. The attitude seemed to be that I should be glad to just eke out a living on my donation payments and not work at all. Well, me and my daughter had the three other girls to support, plus I had to board the cart and horse or sell them, so it wasn't all that easy. We asked the channels at the Sime Center to help us get GN-1, and after a few months we did, so that helped a bit, but I kept looking around. One day I was sitting on a bench in the square. It was a nice day and all the civil servants were out in the sun on their breaks too. One Sime asked me if I minded if he sat down next to me to eat because he wasn't hungry at all but with my nager he might be. Now, of course I knew that Simes could zlin what us Gens were feeling, but I'd never thought about it much, other than the basic training they gave us in how not to annoy people. So I talked to him and he told me that if I concentrated on being hungry, it would make him hungry too, and then he could eat his sandwich and wouldn't have to try to lie to his Ma when he got home and she asked him whether he ate his lunch. So that's where the idea was born.
Times: Where did you go from there?
Tuib Ferret: Well, my daughter and I decided to try it. There were already a lot of little kiosks set up in the square to sell trin to the civil servants, but most of them were run by Simes and didn't sell food. We fixed up the cart we'd come in-T with and my daughter, who has a real artistic eye, made up a bunch of little open-face sandwiches and other food that is as pretty to look at as it is good to eat, and we set up in the square one day. We made a point of not eating any breakfast, and it was amazing -- Simes would walk by and sort of drift closer to our cart, and they'd see all that pretty food plus zlin our hungry nagers, and they bought everything we had and just stood around the cart eating it. So we used the money to buy more food, and got up real early to prepare it fresh and the next day all those Simes who'd bought from us had brought their friends and the food just vanished and we knew we'd figured out how to make a good living in-T.
Times: That's wonderful!
Tuib Ferret: Yeah, we thought so too. We rented a house with a big kitchen and started really working at it. About then the quarterly installment on the settler's bonuses came in, and we were able to buy a little charcoal stove and fix up the cart so we could serve hot soup and other hot food too, and have hot water to wash the cups as they came back in. By then it was starting to get cold, so we had to have something that would get those Simes out of their offices into the square to zlin our hungry nagers and buy our food. We were doing so well I wrote to my sister and invited her to send her kids down to join the business and be safe if they changed over. Now my sister is more Church of the Purity than most, so she was really horrified at the idea of sending her kids to Demon Land, but her oldest boy was almost sixteen, and he wrote to me asking if he could come down and bring a couple of his friends when they turned sixteen, because there wasn't any work up there and it sounded like a real adventure to come south to Nivet. So I said sure, we had plenty of space and plenty of work, let me know when they were coming and I'd meet them at the border.
Times: So they came down to Demon Land too?
Tuib Ferret: They sure did. I went up to meet the three of them and helped them not be nervous when they donated, and I told them about how we were living and taught them some Simelan on the way down, and when I got home it turned out that my second daughter had changed over! My oldest girl had taken her to the Sime Center in plenty of time, and she had changeover training, and everything went well and I knew I had really done the right thing in coming in-T.
Times: Did it help to have a Sime in the family?
Tuib Ferret: Oh, yes. It helped a lot to have someone who didn't require as much sleep and could get up early to get the oven going so we could do more baking. She helped us figure out what food appeals to a Sime after turnover, and she can season the food that isn't safe for Gens to eat. It's handy to have Simes around for heavy lifting too. She was able to help my nephew and his friends learn to control their nagers and to zlin really hungry when they were working. Of course, she knew the boys from when they were growing up, and last year she married one of them.
Times: So how does your business operate now?
Tuib Ferret: Well, I guess you'd have to call it an extended family business. My nephew brought his sweetheart down here, and she brought her sister, and one of my nephew's friends brought his brother, and we all pooled our money as shares and now we have twelve Gens and three Simes all working together. We bought this nice big house out here in the west end, fixed up the drive shed for our trin carts, and made most of the first floor into a big kitchen and food preparation area. We all live upstairs and in the winter we really appreciate the heat from the bake ovens. We have a summer kitchen out back so it doesn't drive us out of the house in summer. We have a nice garden where my daughter grows herbs and flowers. She uses flower petals and such to decorate the food, and that really draws the Simes's eyes and gets them hungry. We started running our carts over to the construction sites in the west end, where the Tecton was building the auxiliary office complexes, and that worked really well because there was no place to eat out there for the construction workers. We started selling baked goods and other food the Simes could take home, and we're now selling some of that through stores too.
Times: This is quite a success story. Where do you go from here?
Tuib Ferret: Well, as you know, the Tecton is the biggest employer in Capital, and the weather is sometimes pretty bad in winter, so we're now negotiating to set up kiosks inside those big beautiful lobbies most of the office buildings have, so the civil servants can run down and get some decent trin and a little snack even when it's snowing outside. We'll have to start hiring Gens to staff them, but there are certainly plenty of them unemployed who would like to do it, judging by how many come by the trin carts to ask for work.
Times: Is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?
Tuib Ferret: I'd like to tell the Simes that we're an example of how Gens can set up a business and make a success of it here in Nivet even if we were all born out-T. There's still a lot of prejudice against Gens here. Most Simes think we are more like children than real adults, but they're wrong. They think we just want to lie around and live off our donation payments but they don't know how hard it is to get a job if you're a Gen. I want to tell the Gens that they can only fight that prejudice by showing it isn't true. If they will believe in themselves they can make a financial success of their lives, no matter what their families and friends tell them. Use those donation payments as capital and make a job for yourself when no one will give you one. And I want to tell the children that they should appreciate how lucky they are to live here in Nivet, where they're safe no matter whether they establish or change over. If I had stayed out-T I would have had to murder my own daughter and someone would have murdered the other two Simes who were lucky enough to come down here before they changed over. Worse, they might have killed someone they loved and have to bear that burden their whole lives long. Nivet is my homeland now, and it's a paradise compared to life on either side of the border before Unity. I wish those Church of the Purity fanatics up north could see that. God is at work in Nivet, and He has blessed us with the best way of life for Sime and Gen.
Times: Thank you, Tuib Ferret. It's been a pleasure talking with you.
Tuib Ferret: I've enjoyed it too. Why don't you come back to the kitchen now and have some trin and sample some of the new baked goods my youngest daughter is experimenting with. If you aren't hungry now, you will be by the time we finish with you! After all, how often does a renSime get to have two Farris Gens working on her at once?