“And we’ve returned for another exciting adventure!” The neon green man yelled out from the billboard screen. Exciting indeed, I thought to myself dryly. I was walking along the sidewalk on a dreary Monday, with the sky threatening to break above us. Like myself, everyone was dressed in gray. Gray shirts, gray shoes, gray pants, even gray scarves. I mean, certainly, not everyone was dressed in gray, but it had the gray feel to it. You know, when everyone looks so boringly the same? A couple people had preemptively put their umbrella’s up—though I wonder whether that’s because they expected the rain, or were simply too oblivious to realize that it was not falling yet. I could hear phones buzzing (nobody ever set their phone to ring anymore—who could really take the looks of wonder from strangers when an unexpected song burst out? This was no Disney movie).
I, personally, do not own a phone. Not that it’s a bad idea, but I do not have much reason for it. My family died out a few years back—my mom died after a bout with brain cancer, and I never met my father. If I need to contact friends I know I will see them at work. Work. Everyday, everybody would pile onto the tram and—what? No no no, the tram. There’s no cars where I live. There is the work space and the living space. Each tram travels along a massive circular railing, roughly 8 feet from the ground, with break points at each living space, and at each workstation. To save time, the chairs of the trams fall out and drop people from their seat onto a padded surface. This initially was a problem, until people realized (or rather, were told) that they did not need all the extra baggage they carried. There were printers at work, and everyone’s documents were paired between their workstation and their home. And besides, who has time to do anything special like that anymore? It’s not as though we had energy to do anything after we got off work at night.
After people got off the tram, they would walk through the narrow walkway back to their home. Roads were disposed of quite a while ago—they just took up too much space. The living spaces were already at their maximum safety height—at least, maximum in terms of cost efficiency to safety ratios. And the people had grown so obese that they were losing functionality sooner. A short walk to home on our own time was a little trade for both our health and government time. Still, I feel bad for the eighties. They live nearly ten miles away from the nearest tram stop. But, that’s punishment for low efficiency units.
I live in the fifteens. Fifteens are a great lot. They’re far enough away that the air is still crisp, but not so far that it’s a voyage to Tram Stop #3. There’s no “early to work” or “late to work” anymore. People come and go as they please. The companies decided it would be more freeing to do that. But there is a minimum work efficiency barrier, and in the even that it is not met the companies and the government have taken measures to motivate people to get back to work. They will limit warm water, leisurely Internet access, and reduce the quality of food flavor. Consistently low efficiency units are moved further away until they fix their problem—assuming their space hasn’t been reassigned yet. The fifteens are pretty high—I have worked quite hard to earn my flat. It even has a couch. You never really realize what it’s like to not have a couch until you sprawl out on one.
But enough thought about home. The walk to work from the tram station—Tram Station #92, to be precise—is quite a sight. The busy lights, the gray masses of men and women. It’s really something to look at. Everyone has a screen in their face, protective glasses on to keep the light from frying their eyes over time—early blindness was a sign of systematic inefficiency. The air was moist, yet as always it was nearly odorless. The light scent of rose petals wafted through the air. I’m told somewhere, a higher up has the last garden in the sector, and that we are lucky they leave the window open for us to smell it. Though, truth be told, I’m almost certain they simply pump the scent into the airwaves. Otherwise that would be a vacation attraction.
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