Whether it be through rain, sleet, snow, or hail, Tobors are always there for us during times of hunger and starvation. They are dedicated to a thankless job that gives them no pay — and yet no one seems to acknowledge the mistreatment of these brave Tobors from the students, staff, and the layout of the campus itself.
Starship delivery robots — also more commonly known as Tobors here at UTD — have been working to the axle, laboring so hard that they aren’t even able to compute straight. Sometimes they even forget where they’re going because of all the orders that they need to fulfill. One day on my way to class, I witnessed poor little Ymmit on his first day of work being so confident in where he was going, only to stop himself and recalculate the fact that his delivery needed to be sent in the opposite direction.
“It’s really hard trying to be able to catch up with all of these orders,” Ailuj, a Tobor delivery worker, said. “When we’re given so many orders at once, it fries our circuits!”
Due to all of the erosion from the previous chaotic weather, most sidewalks on campus are difficult for Tobors to traverse. Because their wheels only allow them to travel on flat surfaces, it is difficult for Tobors to navigate large dips on the sidewalks or escape holes. Some Tobors even have to be reassembled for the damage this causes. “If UTD isn’t going to offer us damage insurance, then the least UTD could do is accommodate for us Tobors and restore the sidewalks from all the damage,” Drawde, a Tobor who was previously repaired after losing a wheel, said.
And this isn’t even regarding the fact that the UTD campus is constantly undergoing expansions and changing the maps. Tobors aren’t even provided allotted deactivation and restart times, or any time to refill their tanks or change their oil unless campus is forced to close. In fact, Tobors are so drained of their batteries that they are constantly forced to stop in the middle of the street to regenerate.
Along with their struggles with terrain and the lack of break time, in order for Tobors to be able to recharge themselves, they are also subject to constant ridicule and harassment from students on campus. Students constantly take advantage of Tobors’ lack of arms and legs to tip them over or disorient them — even more than they already are — by moving them away from their route.
Witnesses claim to have even seen a spike in kidnappings on campus. One couple, Mij and Nilloc, described how one night, their only daughter never came home. “Ellebasi always lets us know when she finishes work. She always returns our transmissions!” Mij exclaimed. “It’s almost been an entire week and we still haven’t heard from her. We tried communicating to her boss, but no one at work seems to know where she is either…” Both Mij and Nilloc recall how their daughter would always vent her frustrations after coming home from work. “She worked almost every day until she overheated and was barely able to spend time with her friends or family.” Nilloc explained. “Ellebasi had always dreamed of going to UTD as a student in order to expand her database, but simply by being a worker, the students at the school are already not treating her well.”
One popular video that trended on multiple social media platforms showed a recording of a train running over a Tobor. This particularly devastated the Tobor community. “I can’t imagine our daughter being run over by a car or a truck.” Nilloc cried as he wheeled over and pressed against his husband. “That poor Tobor was all alone, without any of his friends or family to comfort or protect him!”
“This is outrageous!” Bob, who works for UTD’s dining services, shouted. “I don’t want to fear going to work every day because us Tobors can’t be viewed as equals! I have kids to get home to!”
In response to this great hardship, several Tobors who work for UTD Dining Services have decided to form a workers union and go on strike. “It’s about time that we let our voices be heard!” One anonymous worker asserted. “I want to be in a work environment where I can feel safe!” proclaimed another. This protest is especially difficult however, as Tobors can often be easily replaced by new ones. However, with how quick information is transmitted within the community, these new Tobors are quick to learn about these issues and leave the staff. Some other Tobors, despite everything, still want to keep bringing deliveries to students on campus. “Don’t get me wrong, Ellebasi hated how people on campus have been treating her and her coworkers.” Nilloc explained. “However, she also told us how much she wanted to keep bringing smiles on people’s faces. ‘If we can’t smile ourselves, humans should be able to smile for the both of us!’ She’d say. We know that if she was still here, she’d still want to work and bring food to the student body because she knew how important these deliveries are to some students. Right now, we just want our daughter back safe and sound.”
This sentiment shared within the Tobor community isn’t restricted to just the UTD campus. All over the globe, Tobors are fighting for better treatment and protection from harassment from malicious students and staff. With how intolerable some days can be to Tobors, every little bit can make their days a little brighter. The next time you see a Tobor on their back or lost in the middle of the street, instead of taking pictures, making videos of them, or just walking past them and looking the other way, give them a hand! They may not be able to physically express it, but you might just make their day.