Thursday, January 15, 2015

Public Welfare

"Citizen 7246859412," stated his wrist monitor, "you have eaten too much carbohydrate. You will have to increase your exercise regime to compensate."

He tried to avoid grimacing. He finished glancing over the morning news vid and pushed the button that would clear the breakfast table and send the dishes to the cleaning process. 

"You are not as young as you used to be," remarked the monitor. "You should consider settling down."

Why did this leave him cold? He did not feel he was devoid of sexual desire or even of romantic impulses. So why did he find women boring? As far as that went, he also found men boring; it just did not matter so much with men.

He left his apartment and headed down the moving sidewalk toward the train. He considered breaking out his own personal transport and going to work that way. It would be frowned on. Unnecessary use of  energy resources. He considered just taking off on a cross-country road trip, with no clear destination or purpose. That would definitely be frowned on.

On the train he noticed a good-looking blonde two seats up. To humor the monitor, he asked for her profile. But as he read about her, he saw she had a standard life with standard interests. Also, she was in a relationship with a guy slightly older than him who made more money. Not a good prospect, but not an absolute bar. But he found he could not work up the interest.

He noticed an advertisement, one of his own, running on the bus monitor. It was about avoiding fatty foods. He found the steak in the advertisement unsettlingly attractive. He could have beef, of course, as part of his regular menu, but nothing like that. He had heard there was a place downtown where you could get steak and soda pop and all sorts of forbidden things. Now he knew that white sugar was the gateway drug to caffeine, alcohol, marijuana, and even cocaine and heroine, but he was still drawn to it. He had even heard you could find women there who were out of the ordinary. But how did you go there? If you tried to remove the monitor, it would set off the alarm. You could put it on silent, like in a public meeting. But he understood it still recorded under those conditions.

As he got out of the train on the way to his office, he ran into a man handing out pamphlets advertising a church. Churches were not illegal (too much trouble to close them down), but they were looked down on. After all, everyone knew the churches were merely upholders of convention. But if the churches were upholders of convention, why did the monitors oppose them?

He could not understand how his job, making advertisements, could be boring. The monitor had chosen it for him as one that fit his aptitude profile. Along with choosing all his hobbies and entertainments. So why was he bored?

He had never been to a church before. But he knew he needed something. He silenced his monitor on the way in. It was a public meeting, after all. He was sure he would get an earful on the way out. But they could not stop him. It was perfectly legal.

He was still not sure what to think about it on the way out. But there seemed to something different there. Something beyond himself. Something more than just getting his needs met. He suspected that it might be what he needed.

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