The SyFy channel is offering a new series this summer, “Alphas,” which is about run-of-the-mill humans who each have one extraordinary trait, the Alpha trait, which sets them apart from the rest of mankind. (David Strathairn, a favorite of mine, is one of the leads.) One character is able to sense what events transpired in a room by “reading” objects, pulling from the objects the scent of sight and sound of what has transpired. Another is able to manipulate the thoughts of others, enticing them to act as she desires, whether encouraging a Highway Patrol Officer to eat the ticket he had written for her, or convincing a truculent hotel clerk to give her forbidden guest information. My favorite is the Alpha who can see certain non-visible waves, such as cell phone transmissions or the Internet. I love the fact that he can scroll through the waves, searching the air as though he had a computer touchscreen in front of him.
So, this got me to thinking. Say I were an Alpha, what special powers would I have? I don’t have stupendously accurate hand-eye coordination. It’s good, excellent, in fact, but there’s nothing Alpha about it. I have a will of iron and can often convince others to do my bidding. But, again, nothing extraordinary, so no Alpha trait there. I’m attuned to the emotions of others, and can read a mood or environment well, but an inanimate object remains inanimate in my hands, unless I chuck it across the room. No sensory feedback, so no Alpha trait.
But, wait. I have this innate ability to proofread, and have had since I was a child. I’m forever finding errors in signage, books, menus, and newspaper articles, wherever the written word exists. If there is an error, chances are I will find it. This seems to be an inherited skill, passed along to me by both parents. (I wonder whether all Alpha traits are inherited?) When I take editing tests, as I must do for every new publisher client who wishes to hire me, I feel I’ve failed if I find 98% of the errors, though my potential clients are thrilled. That 2% niggles at me, driving me to improve the next time. Okay, so maybe there’s no Alpha trait there, given a 2% error rate, but that’s my best guess as to any latent Alpha ability I possess.
Not sexy, I know. How would they even use me on the series? Alpha Editor! Maybe I could compare a recently delivered hijacker note to previously known hijacker notes and see a pattern for identification, but I don’t really see myself saving the free world with that talent.
And so, I remain unknown, flying under the radar of the DOD (Department of Defense), righting wrongs in my own little world, but unsung and unchallenged on the world stage. Still, I am content. I am Alpha on my own stage. The Master Editor of all I survey. (David Strathairn, I’m here if you need me.)