A Day at the Office

Short about an Office Clerk’s day at work.

A Day at the Office:

07:30 – The alarm keeps nagging me to get up; reluctant to get out of bed I slap my hand on the snooze button and turn around. My missus elbows me to get up: ‘C’mon, you’ll kick yourself if you don’t get up now…’ She’s right; I can’t stand having to cram the shower, coffee, toast and any further grooming into less than the required time.

Whilst rolling my legs out the bed, I reach for my dataspecs; not only do they improve my sight; I’m blind as a bat without them, they also provide me with details such as weather conditions, possible traffic jams and what not. It rolls across the top of the lenses, like a sort of rolling messenger. The ear supports slot into the openings above my ears; the connection to the Plurite battery implanted under my left shoulder blade, and the internal hearing device, that provides a voice-over for the rolling messages.

As I approach the wardrobe, it slides open, triggered by my physical magnetism. I grab my clothes and take place on the board that smoothly floats me to the ground floor. Very rarely will you see houses with actual stairs anymore; too many stair-constructing companies were sued for accidents, since in 2132 some American woman sued the company that developed and installed the stairs in her house, because she slipped and fell. That was the beginning of the end of stairs as we know them…

I looked at the left hand corner of my left hand lens: 07:15 GMT, not too bad… I chucked the specs on the breakfast bar and made my way to the bathroom: ‘Shower…’ The water started drizzling from the big shower rose and steadily grew to a full spray of comfortably warm water. As soon as I washed all my bits, the water faded away and made place for five air blasters which started to blast me dry with, equal to the water, comfortable warm air. Like in most newly built houses, towels had become virtually redundant, although you’d still find guest towels in most homes; there are places that the blasters can’t reach… Towels are in this day and age considered unhygienic; a nest for bacteria.

Jan, me missus, had made a couple of rounds of toast in the kitchen assistant; a combination of microwave, toaster and grill. By combining the three, the product ended up cooked/grilled/toasted in less time, hence less energy use. As she put the toast and tea, also from the assistant, on the table, she got the high pressure syringe out to give me my daily shot of medication. Automatically, almost oblivious of the event, I rolled up my sleeve: ‘hiss…!’  Another day without risks of heart attacks, and what not… I glance at the corner of my lens: 07:45.

‘I’d best be on my way honey…’ I grab my tablet bag and give Jan a kiss; as I get near the front door, it slides open, following the same principle as the wardrobe. The driver’s door of our brand spanking new Glider, a GM Gliders XSE ‘Amy’, slides open; a hum tells me that the electro motor is already operational. As soon as I get in, the door slides shut and my harness closes around my shoulders, preventing me from being launched through the front windscreen in case of a crash. It’s incredible to know that, even since most roads are now self-guiding, people still manage to slam into each other… It beats me how but hey ho…

‘Where do you wish to go, Peter?’

Wish… need would be more appropriate… ‘I wish to go to tropical Spain, but I need to go to work…’

‘Unable to comply. Please specify one destination.’

As if I didn’t know that… ‘OK, Amy, take me to Spain.’

‘The Glider ‘Amy’ is unable to take you to Spain, Peter.’

‘Don’t I just know it… to work please, Amy…’

The second I gave her the correct destination, the electro-magnetic field under the Glider automatically activated; it measures and registers the surface’s magnetism, and produces and anti-magnetic field accordingly to the measurements. The Glider lifts itself off the four little legs underneath the Glider with a jolt. You would have thought that they’d refined that process by now… Amy turns herself round her axle and slides off, into the main road.

‘Switching to Guidance now, Peter…’ ‘Guidance’ is an expression to notify the driver that the Glider is operated by the board computer’s guiding system… auto-pilot, if you will…

I have a look on the instrument screen: ‘OK. Tablet please, Amy’

My on-board tablet slides out of the dash. Being on the guided roads gives me the chance to get some heads-up from the online Dutch news. Being Dutch, I feel like I’d lose connection with my country of origin if I don’t check the online news. It’s impossible to know everything that’s going on there but at least I’m putting some effort into staying up-to-date. There’s not much going on in Holland; the PM is at war with the Cabinet… what else is new. Apparently he is entangled in a scandal involving bribes being accepted about energy providers. It turns out that the current supplier won’t, and would never be able to provide the energy required to run the Capital. On top of that is has emerged that the CEO is the PM’s ex-brother-in-law… Ouch… as we say in Holland; burn your ass and sit on the blisters… A singer just had her third baby… like I care… there’s kids born every second of the day; what makes hers so special? I hate those wannabe big people, littering the newspapers with their ugly mugs… it’s not like they’ve got someone to wipe their asses when they’ve had a dump, do they? “Singer gets married in the Caribbean…” whilst Joe Bloggs doesn’t even have the money to pay for a decent vehicle, and is forced to get married in Uncle Joe’s vintage Ford Taunus: ‘There’s nothing wrong with my car…’ Nope, you’re absolutely right, except from the fact that its emissions are so huge that the rest of Holland will have to pay twice the vehicle taxes for the next two years…

Amy notified me of the coming turn: ‘Switching from A49 to M62T in one minute.’

‘Thanks Amy… Take the top deck today; I want to enjoy the view for a change…’

‘Taking the top deck will slow your journey with ten minutes, Peter’ She’s right; everyone wants to drive the top deck. The lower deck is faster but it feels like driving in a 20 mile tunnel; hardly any sunlight gets through the forest of columns that carry the top deck…’

‘Top deck please, Amy…’

‘Changing lane for the top deck.’

‘Thank you…’

As the Glider got in line with the other traffic, it was automatically pushed into the invisible magnetic rails. Getting in a crash on the MagLanes was virtually impossible; most of the crashes were caused by drivers that drove on manual operation, which, by the way, is against the law, especially on the MagLanes. Ten years ago the British Government spent forty plus billion sterling on the implementation of the magnetic rails in all of the major Motorways, as they were still called. Don’t ask me why, I’ve never even seen a vehicle powered by a combustion motor on the MagLanes… A law was pushed through at the same time that manual operation of vehicles was forbidden on most of the MagLanes, as well as on major connection roads. And still there were dickheads that found eighty miles per hour too slow…

I sat back and enjoyed the view on the top deck, it was magnificent; the treetops, birds flying on and off, and with a bit of luck we’d see the Moon shuttle take off from Manchester today. I wish I could go up there, some day. Just to see how people live on the Moon. Since the first Moon base was built in 2026, more and more people swapped Earth for the Moon, to build up a new life. Manchester Airport management had seen the possibilities to change the main activities to become Europe’s first Moon Portal; the only connection between Europe and the Moon as yet. I believe that Heathrow is now looking to become Moon Portal number two in the UK.

‘Leaving M62T to join the M60 in three minutes.’

‘M60T please, Amy…’

‘Recalculating…’

Seven minutes later I switch to manual operation, and make the U-turn into the Company’s parking lot. What was the saying again… ‘Another day, another dollar…’

As I get out, the electromagnetic motor stops humming; the Glider gently lands on its feet. ‘See you later, Amy…’

The entrance to Reception glides open; although there’s no receptionist visibly present, a voice greets me: ‘Good Morning, Peter. Did you have a nice weekend? Enjoy your day.’ Having automated welcoming messages is one thing, but why have it ask after my weekend when it clearly doesn’t await or even expect my response? Just silly…

‘Morning…’ Come to think of it, my response sounds as daft as the automated welcoming message.

The hover board takes me straight up to the 40th floor; behold the Company’s IT service in their Ivory Tower. Several colleagues mumble all sorts of commands into their microphones, starting up all kinds of support and monitoring programs. Although most software nowadays comes with automated monitoring and utility suites, we still perform manual checks.

Some of them look up as I pass and nod a ‘good morning’ in my direction. I nod back without a sound as I am only too aware that someone talking to you while you’re activating your programs, can distract you enough to screw things up.

Approaching my desk, I fish the data connector from my pocket. It is attached to the Plurite battery, which in turn is interconnected with my personal storage chip, also implanted, near the battery. Unbelievable to know that, in the olden days, people used to store their personal data on the same hard drive where the applications live; talk about sensitive to fraud…

Pushing the connector in its slot, a female voice welcomes me: ‘Welcome back, Mr van Hooten.’ You can’t blame the English system for not being able to properly pronounce a Dutch name. My actual name is ‘van Houten’, and ‘ou’ in English sounds like ‘oo’… Trivial, I know…

‘Thank you, Tabby…’ Since we have the option to name our tablets ourselves, I chose for Tabby; it’s the closest to Tablet I could think of. I mean, I can’t think of a reason why I should name my tablet ‘Bambi’, or ‘Guinevere’, like some have. Maybe ‘Tabby’ sounds just as daft, I don’t really care…

I put my head set on: ‘Start up E-mail, Commander and spreadsheet ‘ODS File Sizes, please, Tabby.’

She confirmed my commands; one at a time, the programs flash up on my screen.

‘Commander.’ Tabby switched my screen to my Commander program.

‘Open FTP connection to Runner and go to ODS.’ A pop-up window flashed on and off my screen; the connection to Runner was established. The folder ‘ODS’ opened up, showing the individual ODS files and their details.

‘Copy file sizes to spreadsheet ‘ODS File Sizes’. Tabby changed the screen to the spreadsheet; automatically the fields were populated with the requested details.

‘Thanks, Tabby. Save and close spreadsheet, terminate FTP connection in Commander.’

As soon as I spoke the last word, my E-mail appeared on the screen. One message was flashing red, meaning it was high priority; nothing urgent, Users occasionally flag their messages red to tell us their password had expired. We have our own way of prioritising issues: Has someone died? Does the issue affect more than five Users? Is the site completely offline? No…? Then, just get in line and await your turn. Exception to the rules are the VIP’s; they should be assisted on the spot, even if they just need to be burped. Don’t look at me, these are my Manager’s words, not mine…

For some reason, I was drawn back to the flashing message; I didn’t recognise the name as being a VIP. As a matter of fact, I didn’t recognise the name full stop: Martin Kavanaugh.

“Good morning, Mr van Houten.

Whilst aware that my name is unknown to you, I urge you to contact me as soon as you read this message. What I have to say to you is of the greatest importance to you personally.”

His signature was more impressive: ‘HMIBB (Member of the Imperial Board of Barristers)’

What does an Imperial Barrister want with me?

‘Tabby, nudge Bobby.’ A little green light with Bobby’s avatar lit up in the top corner of my screen.

I cleared my throat: ‘Bobby… Do you know any Managers by the name of Kavanaugh, Martin Kavanaugh?’

‘Can’t say I do, Pete… if you don’t mind, I’m in the middle of an issue here…’

‘Sorry, Bob, I’ll close the connection.’

‘Thanks matey.’

‘Open connection to Martin Kavanaugh.’

‘Connection to Martin Kavanaugh could not be established; not registered within the Firm.’

‘Change to Administrator, use external connection.’

‘Cannot change to external connection; it is against Company Policy to connect externally during office hours.’ Shit!

I know it’s against Company policy but by changing to System Administrator, I should be able to make an external connection. I rolled my keyboard out and typed the command ‘Switch to Admin’

Tabby wasn’t playing: ‘Unable to switch.  O = Override  V = Switch to Voice Command  S = Shut Down’

‘O’

‘Policy Override activated: 4:56 minutes left’

Swiftly, I switched between the command screen and my E-mail and typed in the parameters to connect to Mr Kavanaugh. Short beeps in my head set told me the connection was made; all I could do was wait for him to open the connection.

‘Good morning, Mr van Hooten, I am glad you contact me so promptly’

‘Mr Kavanaugh, good morning, sir. Please can you briefly state your business, sir, as I am temporarily on an unauthorised connection.’ I looked at my screen: 4:05 minutes left.

‘Mr van Hooten, what I have to discuss with you will take more than a quick ‘tell me what you want’, I’m sorry to say…’

‘Why didn’t you contact me at home, sir?’

‘The answer to that is quite simple; because I don’t have your private details. It took me long enough to find the details to contact you at all…’ For God’s sake, time’s ticking away, Kavanaugh! ‘If you want, I can contact you tonight, if that is at all convenient?’

‘That would be more convenient than right now, yes… But you never said what this is all about yet…?’

‘It’s confidential, Mr van Hooten; best discussed face to face, rather than…’

The message on my screen told me what I was afraid of: ‘Connection terminated due to time-out’

More to follow…

Watch this Space!

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