I’m trying to help, Albert said.By paying him with beer?I paid him what he wanted and Sam was okay with it. You were at the meeting, Albert said. Look, how else do you think you get someone like Orc to spend hours in the hot sun working? Astrid seems to think people will work just because we ask them to. Maybe some will. But Orc?Lana could see his point. Okay. I shouldn’t have jumped all over you.It’s okay. I’m getting used to it, Albert said. Suddenly I’m the bad guy. But you know what? I didn’t make people the way they are. If kids are going to work, they’re going to want something back.If they don’t work, we all starve.Yeah. I get that, Albert said with more than a tinge of sarcasm. Only, here’s the thing: Kids know we won’t let them starve as long as there’s any food left, right? So they figure, hey, let someone else do the work. Let someone else pick cabbages and artichokes.Lana wanted to get back to her run. She needed to finish, to run to the FAYZ wall. But there was something fascinating about Albert. Okay. So how do you get people to work?He shrugged. Pay them.You mean, money?Yeah. Except guess who had most of the money in their wallets and purses when they disappeared? Then a few kids stole what was left in cash registers and all. So if we start back using the old money we just make a few thieves powerful. It’s kind of a problem.Why is a kid going to work for money if they know we’ll share the food, anyway? Lana asked.Because some will do different stuff for money. I mean, look, some kids have no skills, right? So they pick the food for money. Then they take the money and spend it with some kid who can maybe cook the food for them, right? And that kid maybe needs a pair of sneakers and some other kid has rounded up all the sneakers and he has a store.Lana realized her mouth was open. She laughed. The first time in a while.Fine. Laugh, Albert said and turned away.No, no, no, Lana hastened to say. No, I wasn’t making fun of you. It’s just that, I mean, you’re the only kid that has any kind of a plan for anything.
Michael Grant