Monday, April 19, 2010

Prepare: America + 30 - A New Day!

Good Morning Citizen! It's another glorious day in America! The future starts with us! Today is November 3, 2038! Let's get moving!

It's a typical Monday morning in new America. Your combination phone, computer and personal digital assistant alerts you that it is 7AM and everyone in your district must be up by that time.

Since its Monday, you don't get a shower this morning; your shower days are Tuesday and Friday and every other Sunday. So you take one of your three daily Wipes from the dispenser on the wall and give yourself a good clean up. Things go fast because you no longer have to shave (shaving wastes water) and you no longer have to brush your teeth. Rather you stick a rubber mouth cleaner in for 30 seconds and you are done.

You have your hair and beard cropped as close a possible. Washing hair wastes too much water and long hair attracts lice, so hair care is a breeze in the New America.

You get dressed, again easy as you only have a choice of two outfits. Both feature khaki pants and a blue denim shirt and both are made from a synthetic material which repels stains, is fireproof, water proof and can only be cleaned at a state approved cleaners once a month. Sure, you have bit of body odor, but everybody does these days, don't they?

Your shoes are slip on, made from the same material as your clothing and without any sort of laces or other decoration. Shoe laces were banned years ago as they were unsafe for children and could be used for purposes other than shoes.

You leave your one room apartment without having to lock the doors or turn off the lights. Electricity is shutdown at all homes during work hours and there are no locks on doors any longer. Nobody has anything to steal and only criminals would want to lock their fellow citizens out of their home.

You take the five flights of stairs down (elevator use is strictly controlled and only available for key facilities as they use electricity and do not encourage healthy living or exercise. Besides, you have heard stories about people being trapped in elevators in older building and who were not found until the smell alerted other citizens) to the street level.

You have to walk six blocks to the transportation center to catch your assigned bus and train to work. There are no vehicles on the streets any longer except those approved by the City such as law enforcement vehicles. The streets are clogged with people and piles of trash. The garbage workers are on strike again as they fight to keep their three day work week and pension plans for extended family members. While you support their efforts to maintain work place parity, you sure wish someone would pick up the trash.

Your stomach is rumbling but breakfast is an hour away at work. Most citizens no longer keep food at home so everyone eats at work or at approved city run cafeterias. Keeping food at home is dirty and may attract pests. Further, what if someone ate something which was unhealthy, or had been stored improperly and which resulted in them getting sick? Besides, food at home only encouraged hoarding and overeating and America's First Mother is first and foremost concerned with fighting obesity and making sure everyone gets their share.

At the transport center you wait in line for your bus. A large woman with a baton is pushing everyone back away from the barrier as the first buses arrive. As the old diesel buses come to a stop, a giant burp of black smoke issues from the lead bus clouding the commuters. All buses run on clean bio-mass diesel or electricity, but occasionally, a terrorist will tamper with the engines to make citizens think the buses are still running on petroleum products. It's ridiculous because everyone know that America does not run on any refined oil at all and hasn't for over 15 years.

The baton wielding woman pulls a man from the line and he is immediately accosted by three black uniformed guards. Turns out the citizen did not have the proper boarding pass for this transport center. While the man screams about his need to get to work in time, the guards drag him to a holding cell for questioning. Sometimes it boggles the mind how people still fail to understand the system.

Once on the bus, you move to the middle to stand in your assigned square, number 78. While it is normal to be a little out of place, everyone knows to sit or stand where they are supposed to in order to ensure an orderly and safe ride. In six years you will be eligible for a seat toward the back of the bus. If only you could find an black market income evader or other criminal and then you could really ride in style in one of the big seats up front!

After fifteen bone jarring minutes (the potholes and poor street conditions are the result on ongoing terrorist activities), you arrive at the train station for the final leg of your journey. While some of the trains are as much as 40 or 50 years old, there is word some new, modern cars will be joining the fleet with the newest round of American Investment Funding approved by the Joint Congress this past year. Hopefully you will get a seat on one these new cars; they are supposed to be really swanky.

You hang onto the rusty center pole in your car and brace for the 20 minute ride. An old woman once said to you it was like a "rolly coaster". What a negative old bird she was. Probably just hates progress.

The ride only lasts 10 minutes as the car comes to a stop suddenly. The tinny speaker on the wall alerts riders that a breakdown has occurred further up the line after terrorists shorted out the signaling system. Darn it! You are going to be late for work and might even miss breakfast! Suddenly the car lurches forward without warning. "Hooray for New America!" the speak blats to the commuters huddled and packed in the car.

Only two minutes late, your train arrives at Station 17, the one which serves your work park. Row after row of low office buildings and warehouses stretch down the broad lane. Here in building 44, you help repair and assemble traffic signals and street lights for the City. You earned this job four years ago as part of Infrastructure Stimulus 82 and it was a step up from your last job of septic tank dismantling and decommissioning.

You clock in with your palm at one of the entry stations and then hurry to your ready site. There the supervisor will scan your palm again and download your work orders to your digital assistant. At the end of the day your quota and hours will be computed and your compensation adjusted. Its a swell and effective system.

10 minutes later and it breakfast! You line up with the other 600 workers on Shift A, grab a tray and work your way down the line. Today is Tofu Scramble, Just Like Oranges, and Shingles. A big glass of Sunny Sometimes Soy and you are just full enough to look forward to lunch. You take your clean, wiped tray to the drop off where it will be sprayed with disinfectant and reused by one of the others still in line.

Off to work. Your work bench is home to 30 other workers like yourself. The supervisor on the floor is a big woman who carries a reminder baton to keep people focused. America has always been the manufacturing leader of the world and others are counting you on to get the job done. Let's keep New America moving!

After four hours, the line stops and everyone stands at attention. The lights are dimmed and the President gives a quick pep talk about duty and hard work. While he is nearly 80, his eyes are still full of the bright fire which brought him to the post during the Dark Years. What a speaker! Next, your union chief appears on the screen and reminds everyone that dues are coming up on the 15th and everyone is required to put in an additional four hours of work to cover the costs. The benefits of the union are legion. Imagine that 25 years ago, people were forced to work up to 18 hours a day each day of the week! Thankfully, the union fought for the 6 day work week we enjoy today. If you had a City Job you would enjoy the 3 day work week like the garbage collectors had, but those jobs are reserved for Key Workers only.

The Lunch bell sounds and its time to scurry to the Cafeteria again. First, the Pledge of Progress is repeated then it's chow time! The Real Burger (made from reconstituted soy and vegetable by products), Broc-i-gus (All of us love Broc-i-Gus!) and Power Pudding are on the menu today. Just enough to keep the old motors running until dinner.

Back to the line, work, then inspection and then, as the sun sets on another day, its quitting time!

By 8PM you are on the platform waiting for your train in a sea of grimy, blue and khaki citizens. A whistle sounds and everyone presses forward to the opening train doors. Only one train and then no more until 7 AM the next day.

Once back to the transport station, the buses are not an option. You have to walk the full 15 blocks back to your apartment. You travel through a neighborhood where Key Workers and supervisors live. Their apartment buildings are slightly larger, cleaner and sometimes even new. Some have small carports attached which house new model government marked hybrids.

This is where the earliest supporters of Progress came from. The Key Workers and supporters who championed for a New America all those years ago. The City and State Workers who made so many sacrifices for America and its infrastructure. The neighborhood activists who fought the racists, the speculators, the power brokers and all the rest who shrank and pinched the middle (Only) class.

Your father was a naysayer. He was an adjuster one of the old insurance companies. And no matter how much you loved him, he was just another greedy corporate drone who would do anything to hurt the Common Man. Because of your father, you were late to the game and saddled with his legacy. You were proud to work Stimulus Jobs, but wished you could move up. Get a better job. Maybe get approved for marriage and a family.

But for now, all you could do was wait.

You make it to the walk thru Cafeteria and grab your assigned meal bag. Something greasy has leaked inside, but that's okay. You can be assured that whatever is in a meal bag is good, good for you and good for the Earth.

When you finally trudge home after 10PM, the building supervisor informs you that your belongings have been moved to the seventh floor to a smaller apartment. A new family has arrived from Bangladesh and needs the space. You tell the super you are proud to do your duty and to welcome a new family to America. You then offer to help them move their possessions.

By midnight you are in your new apartment. The door bangs the bed when it opens and there is no sink, just a Wipes dispenser on the wall. The shower is on the sixth floor so you have to be up at 5 AM to get your Tuesday slot. Before you drop off, you remember the children from Bangladesh whose parents received your old apartment. Children. There were so few these days and he could not think of anyone who was allowed to have them yet. How exciting. There would be kids in the building. Good night, New America!


Bitmap said...

Eurasia is our enemy, has always been our enemy and always will be our enemy.

I hope the future we are creating for our children isn't as bleak as you describe.

JD said...

I hope it isn't either, but it is heading this direction unless we decide once and for all to get off the train to Socialism Lite.

Bitmap said...

One problem with "Socialism Lite" is that it often hurts the economy and the citizens motivation so badly that it leads to more government intervention.

JD said...


Exactly what I was trying to explain in my post.
That stimulus and make work programs do not help a national economy, they hurt it.

Further, that we are creating a dangerous sub-culture in the US of public employment. Each employee costs far more than taxes can provide for, thus it is a downward spiral.

While this piece of speculative fiction is extreme, I did so to point out a growing problem in the US that in 30 years, if left alone, will destroy all that we have worked for.

Note that the infrastructure of the community the protagonist lived in was actually worse than could be said today.

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