I denied it at first. As time goes on, I suspect she's right - but it still bothers me. It was during a lunch break from makee-learnee at Irrational Numbers that Jo pointed it out, in her odd take on an Edger accent -- she's got the telephone-operator enunciation, but with a musical lilt and faint accent that sounds like Zsa Zsa Gabor had learned English from leprechauns.
I commented on the way she never leaves the place for lunch if she can avoid it and she countered with the observation that I invariably pick up take-out food from Delta-Vee. "It is habit versus selection, Roberta."
"How so? You haven't been here long enough to have any lunch 'habits,' I'd think."
She laughed. "No -- but I am used to being on ship. Planets have too much distance. And the ventilation feels broken outdoors. It makes me nervous. So I follow my habits. You, on the other hand-- This is why you were chosen."
"You've lost me."
"Reclusion. Everyone knows: persons with reclusive personalities were preferentially picked for USSF tech crews."
I looked across the table at her. Her expressions are hard to read -- Edger reserve, mostly -- but she seemed dead serious. "It's news to me."
She quirked an eyebrow, looking more than ever like she should be hosting a National Geographic Special on the Wonders of India, were it not for that accent. "You were not told?"
"All they told me was, I had the aptitude for several jobs, nothing specific. I thought I was joining the Air Force! Besides, that's ancient history; I was out before I ever had a permanent posting."
"'Civilian' crew ever since. Why do you think that is?"
I snorted. "Because I'm good at it, maybe? Because it suits me?"
She smiled. "See?"
Edgers! A couple of the other students showed up about then and I managed to get her talking about her own life -- like a lot of Edgers, she was adopted out of disaster right on good old Earth, though unlike many, her entire family had been lost and she was barely five years old when it happened. It'd be easy to claim the space-born Far Edge types do that sort of thing out of the goodness of their hearts, and there's a grain of truth in it; the wider truth is, they are much concerned about genetic diversity. Whatever caused the senior of Materjack line, hitting dirt near (and under cover of*) the booming shores of Barisal, to take in a particular starving orphan, we'll never know; her adoptive father was lost at Ganymede. It certainly worked out well for all involved -- "Engine Jo" has a grasp of 'Drive engineering that leaves me working hard to keep up.
But I still think it's a crazy Edger rumor, on a par with the one about USSF/NATO recruiting combat troops from jailed violent criminals. Reclusive? Me?
* A fine old Edger trick. It usually works. Sometimes, not.