The following is a short story I wrote for my Pre-AP Biology class in 9th grade (last year). Though the assignment was innocently non-political in nature, I had a little fun throwing a political twist into it, as I seemingly always find a way to do. I couldn’t tell you exactly what I got on this project, but it was somewhere around a 90 I believe; I was docked for the drawings I had to make, which may be some kind of discrimination against those of us not blessed with artistic ability.

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Once upon a time, there was a nucleus named Phil. Phil was a nucleus in a plant cell. Every day he did his job, giving directions to the other organelles in the cell. Well, one day, he noticed that the cell wasn’t working right. It seemed that the other organelles had simply decided to stop doing what they were supposed to. Well, Phil knew that he couldn’t allow this to happen, so he decided to reach out to each organelle to find out what was wrong.

First, he reached out to the nucleolus, Ned. “Ned,” he said, “what is going on there? Why aren’t you making ribosomes for the cell?” Ned replied, “Well, I was doing some research online last night, and I discovered that I could be better off collecting welfare from the government instead of working. So, I’m done working for the cell. I quit.” Phil was shocked. He could not imagine why someone would want to take money from the government instead of making an honest living. “But Ned, don’t you know where that money is coming from? You are getting it from the other organelles that pay taxes! That isn’t fair to them,” said Phil. “Oh, my goodness!” Ned exclaimed,” I never thought of that! I’m sorry Phil, I’ll go back to work right away.” Phil broke off the communication with Ned, feeling quite pleased with his work.

Next, he called the nuclear membrane, Charlie. “Charlie,” Phil called, “why aren’t you keeping the stuff outside me from coming in? It feels weird.” “It isn’t my fault!” yelled Charlie, “It’s the nuclear pores! They are the ones that are supposed to be selecting what comes in and goes out of you! They said they formed a union and decided to go on strike until they get more rights and more money.” “More money!” exclaimed Phil, “They get paid plenty of money! Surely not all of them feel like this!” “No, they don’t,” replied Charlie, “A few of them didn’t want to join the union, but they were forced to. The union told them that they had to, or else they would get fired.”

Phil reached out to the nuclear pores, saying, “Hey, guys! In this cell, we have a right to work law. That means that any organelle that doesn’t want to be in a union doesn’t have to. So, who wants to go back to work?” “Me!” called one pore. “Me!” called another. Cries of “back to work” sprung up all through the crowd. Eventually, the pores, seeing that their union was losing power, stopped their demands for more money and rights, and went back to work.

Phil wondered which organelle he should go to next. Then, he noticed that the water level in the cell was higher than it should be. “Victor the Vacuole!” he called, “Why aren’t you storing water like you should be? Much longer and we’ll drown!” Victor replied, “Well, I decided that I didn’t want to work today. I think I’ll just take a day off.” “A day off!” yelled Phil, “You don’t get days off! That is part of your contract. If you take a day off, the whole cell will be in chaos! If you don’t go back to work right now, you are fired!” Now, Phil knew that he couldn’t fire Victor, as he had nobody to replace him, but he hoped Victor didn’t know that. “No, Phil! Don’t fire me! I’ll go back to work right away, sir,” said Victor.

Pleased, Phil moved on to the Golgi body. “George!” he called, “Why aren’t you packaging the proteins for transport?” “I can’t package proteins if the rough endoplasmic reticulum doesn’t bring any to me,” George replied. “What is wrong with him?” asked Phil. “I don’t know,” said George, “I didn’t ask.” “I’ll find out,” said Phil, as he ended the communication between the two.

“Roger!” called Phil, “I just spoke to George, and he told me that you weren’t transporting new proteins to him! What’s wrong?” “I can’t transport proteins that haven’t been made yet! Ask the ribosomes; they are the ones causing all the holdup!” “Okay, I’ll do that right away,” replied Phil.

“Why aren’t you making proteins?” he asked the ribosomes. “Well,” replied one ribosome, “we don’t feel right about making proteins. They hurt the environment!” “The environment!” exclaimed Phil, “What on earth are you talking about? Proteins don’t hurt the environment! Where did you get that from?” “I was reading Science the other day, and it said that all the proteins were causing global warming! How dare you disagree with the scientists? It even said that 97% of them agreed!”

“Well,” replied Phil, “I disagree with the scientists. They don’t know everything. The climate changes all the time, and there is no proof that it is caused by proteins. Think about it.” The ribosomes mumbled amongst themselves for a moment. “Maybe you are right,” said the ribosomes, “and besides, we have to do our job in order for the cell to survive! If we all stopped making proteins, there would be no life, and then the environment wouldn’t matter. We’ll get back to work.” “I’m glad to hear it,” said Phil.

Next, Phil decided to speak to the lysosomes. “Lysosomes!” said Phil, “What is the problem? If you don’t start breaking down waste material like you are supposed to, it will be disgusting in here!” The lysosomes replied, “We need to not be discriminated against because we are lysosomes! Everybody likes the nucleus, everybody likes the vacuoles, and everybody likes the mitochondria, but hardly anybody likes us! A lot of kids probably don’t even know what we are! It is racist, and we won’t stand for it.”

Phil was shocked at this response. He had no idea what the lysosomes were talking about. They were just as important as the other organelles, and all the others liked them. “Look guys,” said Phil, “we all like you just as much as the others. Nobody likes things that whine and complain about others being more popular than them. The best way to get liked is to do as much work as you can to help the cell. Please go back to work.” The lysosomes looked at each other for a while, and then one spoke up, “Okay, Phil. You are right. We shouldn’t complain like this. We are just as important to the cell as the others, and I guess they do like us. We just wanted an excuse to not do our work. Back to work, guys!” Phil broke off the connection with a sigh of relief.

Next, Phil contacted the smooth endoplasmic reticulum. “Sammy, why aren’t you making lipids?” asked Phil. “Why do I have to work? None of the other organelles are,” replied Sammy. “No, I fixed that problem, Sammy. They are all back to work, and that means you should be, too.” “Okay, fine, Phil. I’ll get back to work if they are.” “Thank you, Sammy,” said Phil.

Phil was satisfied. It seemed as though everything was back to normal. Then, he noticed something strange. There were things inside the cell that shouldn’t be there! He quickly contacted the cell membrane, Manny. “Manny, what’s going on? Why are you letting all this stuff come in?” asked Phil. “Well, I didn’t want to discriminate against some things,” said Manny. “It isn’t fair that we don’t let them in. Everybody is equal.” “Manny, you can’t just let everything in. They can hurt us. That is why you were created: to stop them from coming in. Don’t be ridiculous.” “Oh, I never thought of that,” said Manny. “Hey Manny, while you’re there, is the cell wall doing its job? Giving the cell structure and support?” “Of course it is,” replied Manny. “If it wasn’t, you would know it.” “Alright, thanks Manny,” said Phil as he ended the conversation.

Phil was tired from all the work he had done, but he knew he couldn’t take a break. He hadn’t gotten all those organelles to go back to work just to mess it all up himself! All through the rest of the cell’s life, there were no problems with the organelles refusing to work. Everybody was happy doing their jobs and making their own way in life.

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