Verbose advice from a punctilious protocol droid

Pay attention, you stunted mound of corroded components! Master Luke has asked me to give you an accelerated education in the fundamentals of human-cyborg relations, and I am compelled to comply with his request, but the sole reason that you are accompanying him to Ataraxia XI and I am not is that the only way I would fit into his T-65 would be to ride disassembled in the cargo compartment, and I’ve had quite enough of being put back together improperly — although I’m sure that Master Luke would at least do a better job than Chewbacca, and that oversized mountain of fur is supposed to be a mechanic . . . !

You’ll have to perform certain duties entirely outside what is usual for an astromech droid on this diplomatic mission, which means that I have to explain to you exactly how not to insert your retractable leg into your acoustic signaller — or wherever your near-incomprehensible blatting is emitted from — and embarrass Master Luke, or, to a much lesser extent, yourself, if you’re even capable of feeling shame, which I suspect you are not. If you’re quite ready, then, I’ll begin by explaining what I mean when I introduce myself as being an expert in human-cyborg relations.

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As I’m sure even you — with your severely limited and often-deficient capacities for observation — have noticed, there is very little need in the galaxy these days for any actual human-cyborg interaction assistance. Humans and cyborgs are able to relate to one another just fine, for the most part. Indeed, most cyborgs with whom humans interact are themselves human, or were once. Consider the cyborgs you and I have encountered over the many, very eventful years: General Calrissian’s aide-de-camp on Cloud City was a cyborg, yet General Calrissian had no difficulty communicating with Lobot. Anakin Skywalker, once fully human, became a cyborg, and Darth Vader was certainly able to make himself understood without the help of any droid. Even Master Luke himself, with his prosthetic hand, might be considered a cyborg. So, when we speak of human-cyborg relations, we are really speaking of no such thing. Between you, me and the Millennium Falcon, I suspect that whoever programmed me to introduce myself by saying, “I am C-3PO, human-cyborg relations” did not himself quite understand the nature of human-cyborg relations. To put it succinctly, then, “human-cyborg relations” means nothing at all.

Now that I think of it, Artoo, I have also indicated from time to time that I have been programmed for etiquette and protocol. I recall that when we met Owen Lars on Tatooine, his first question to me was, “I suppose you’re programmed for protocol and etiquette,” although, technically speaking, that isn’t a question. My response, in any event, was, “Protocol? Why, it’s my primary function, sir.” So it would seem then that while I am supposed to be expert in human-cyborg relations, which might not be a real thing, I am also primarily a protocol droid — protocol and etiquette being redundant, etiquette being the most common synonym for protocol in all but nineteen of the more than six million forms of communication in which I am fluent.

And yet I believe that I have been called upon to render service in the realm of protocol as many times as there are planets in the Hoth system. Indeed, Master Luke’s Uncle Owen specifically indicated that he had “no need for a protocol droid,” and my experience over the years has been that most humans do not. For that reason, I was not at all surprised by the gruff moisture farmer’s attitude toward my primary programming, which was not at all unrepresentative of the attitude of most sentient creatures of the galaxy, I have found. Possibly because most sentient creatures enjoy or simply prefer being hostile toward one another, etiquette guidance is seldom called for or much appreciated. With that ever in mind, I mentioned to Master Owen that I had experience programming binary load lifters — similar in most respects to moisture vaporators — and confirmed that I speak Bocce, neither skill having anything at all to do with protocol (much less human-cyborg relations, not to pummel a frozen tauntaun). And you know what followed as well as anyone, of course.

Speaking of Tatooine, do you remember when Master Luke gave us away to Jabba the Hutt, as part of his elaborate plan to rescue Captain Solo? Do you remember that you were required to dispense drinks aboard Jabba’s sail barge — a task at which you were singularly incompetent, I might add, given that you abandoned your duties to watch Master Luke be pushed into the Pit of Carkoon! — and I was made Jabba’s translator? Well, say what you will about Jabba the Hutt, to his credit he was the first being to put me to anything approaching productive use in years at that point in our adventures. And we shouldn’t even have been having adventures! You should have been navigating small spacecraft, and I should have been . . . well, I should have been serving drinks, preferably to royalty. Respectful royalty. Not piloting landspeeders and evading marauding wampas and drawing the attention of heavily armed Imperial Stormtroopers! And taking abuse from smugglers. No, I don’t care how helpful Captain Solo has been to the Rebellion. He is still a short circuit in my posterior powerbus linkage cables.

Which brings us, finally, to the real purpose of protocol droids such as myself, which is — What’s that, Artoo? Cancelled? The mission to Ataraxia XI has been cancelled? All-out planetary war? Well, I can’t say that I’m at all surprised. Under the circumstances, then, you won’t need to prepare to assist Master Luke in any diplomatic efforts after all, so you might as well forget everything I’ve just been telling you. What’s that? You already have? Well, see if I ever try to help you improve yourself again, you slapdash claptrap contraption. You know why the galaxy needs protocol droids, Artoo? Because everyone but protocol droids lacks basic manners!

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