@acdw I’d imagine it fits the same role/remit of social touch points for a social species confined to cramped spaces. TNG missed a chance to explore any of those characters that deeply, but for instance DS9’s varied takes on the dabo girls and ROM’s involvement in the bar.
@acdw Though you are right that having them do menial tasks while doing it might be a last reflection of something like the Protestant Work Ethic, that it is better to “work” on something than nothing.
Or it might be necessary social theater, a lubricant for the primal brain that those folks have a reason to be in your space before you engage them outside of your regular peer group.
I bet Starfleet psych is full of weird experiments.
@acdw Also, outside of Guinan, most of them seem to be Ensigns. Maybe the “fetch the coffee” internship survived into Starfleet as a required networking and apprenticeship step. Maybe it’s something like military kp or a jury duty of sorts to keep junior officers fresh and disciplined.
@max these are all really good points, thank you! And I'm further convinced that the next thing to watch is DS9. I especially like the KP take you've given. It makes a lot of sense. I'd assume that Star Fleet would be a job in great demand, so they'd need something for low ranking ensigns to do
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