Thursday, 15 November 2012


While waiting for the bus, I scratched my upper arm through the sleeve of my winter jacket - round about the spot where my ID implant is supposed to be. The implants aren’t supposed to itch of course, but mine has always itched in cold weather, ever since I was a child.

‘My arm itches,’ I’d say on the way to school.

‘Well don’t scratch it then,’ Mum always replied, ‘that only makes it worse.’ So that was that, but at least it only itches now in cold weather.

‘Chilly old morning isn’t it?’ That was Eric from over the road, a neighbour of mine although I don’t know him beyond a few words of greeting in the bus queue. He always makes some remark about the weather and like me he works in the city. I’m not sure what he does though, because I don’t recognise his uniform. Something to do with opinion polls I think. Telling people about the opinions they should hold on all kinds of issues – that kind of thing.

The bus was on time for once, so I climbed on board, found a seat and slipped my feet into the pedals as usual. I like this part of my daily commute because a good hard spell of pedalling warms me up in winter and even in summer I get to work feeling that bit better for the exercise. Which is the whole idea behind pedal buses of course. Everyone knows that.

The bus was unusually slow that morning though, pulling away from the bus stop as if it would never get going. Some of the passengers were really struggling with their pedals. I could see there weren’t quite enough fit people pedalling sufficiently hard to get us off to a good start and up to our official 10 mph running speed.

This is the speed we’re supposed to reach as quickly as possible or the bus motivator starts nagging us, asking if we’ve eaten a good breakfast and so on. One or two High Officials whizzed past in their private cars, sounding their horns in understandable frustration.

There were also more oldies than usual sitting at the back in the seats with no pedals. That never helps because of course oldies don’t have to pedal. I turned round in my seat and gave them a bit of a glare, but still managed to carry on pedalling.

I’m like that sometimes, rather bold and defiant. I can’t seem to help it in spite of the temperament capsule I take every day. My Health Supervisor can’t get to the bottom of it. Maybe she’ll put me on something different if that glare gets reported by one of those oldies. These minor acts of aggression don’t always get reported though – oldies don’t usually bother unless it’s actually verbal.

Mind you, we aren’t talking Rehab here – only a capsule mod at most. Not that I’d ever know about a capsule mod of course, but everyone is pretty sure it goes on.

I always have one of the Health-Approved breakfasts to start my day – fresh fruit with a glass of water or something like that. If I don’t, the fridge complains to the Health Authority, although it’s not really supposed to report something as minor as skipping some fruit.

Maybe it’s faulty, although I’m not sure I should report a faulty fridge in case it is really functioning normally and the whole thing reflects back on me. Decisions, decisions – all part of the rich tapestry of life.

Anyhow, my bus arrived in the city centre eventually, only about ten minutes late, so not too bad and at least I didn’t get the blame. I should think not too! I’d been pedalling really hard all the way – much harder than Eric for example. Eric always hums little tunes while he’s pedalling, probably covering up his lack of real effort in my view. I think the oldies may have been Logged though – there were too many of them on one bus as I suspected.

‘Who is paid to sort these things out? I want to see the manager.’ I heard one of them say to the Drive Unit. I don’t know why – there’s no point saying things like that to a Drive Unit. In fact there’s no point saying anything to a Drive Unit.

I have a funny story about oldies which I’ve told on a number of occasions, but it bears repeating because it always gets a laugh. Once an oldie who was standing next to me at the bus stop said she wasn’t surprised that people don’t have children any longer.

‘Wait until the new conception regs come out,’ I said, ‘then you’ll see some real action.’

I laughed like a drain at the time, but the oldie just stood there looking puzzled. I didn’t bother to tell her about the new conception regs because they are pretty complex, but I’m sure they will be really effective in boosting the birth rate.

I’ve heard oldies talk this way before – criticising things they don’t really understand. They often talk about money and paying for things and prices and suchlike. I know what prices are, because it’s all to do with whether or not you can afford something, but hardly anyone seems to know what they mean by money and paying for something. The bank handles all that, so why do they bother to make an issue of it?

If I look at something in a shop such as a pair of new shoes, then of course the display unit tells me if I can afford them and if they are my size. It also gives me a load of sales spiel about the current fashions for my age group and social profile, but I don’t usually listen to that even though I’m supposed to.

My Social Awareness advisor tells me I should be a little more fashion conscious, because she says I don’t always conform to my social profile and that could lead to anxiety and unhappiness. But I’m simply not interested and can’t seem to do anything about it. I just switch off somehow. Nobody seems to take my lack of fashion sense too seriously though - I’ve managed to get away with it up to now.

Anyhow, going back to the business of shopping for new shoes. If I can afford the shoes I just try them on and if they feel comfortable that’s it as far as I’m concerned. Okay – I have to fill out a health and safety check list and wait until the sales pitch is over, but then I take them or I don’t. The shop and the bank handle everything else. It’s certainly not my concern is it? Do I have a degree in banking? It’s the same with any other kind of shopping such as meals – we should all know that by now, even oldies.

One day I’m going to ask an oldie what they mean by paying for things. There’s nothing about it on the Web as far as I can see. With them being oldies, maybe it’s a historical matter, but I don’t have a history qualification so that part of the Web isn’t accessible to me. A good thing too in my book - I can only take in so much. It’s not as if I’m a High Official or anything.

It’s only a ten minute walk to the Careers Office, so I jogged the rest of the way and managed to make up a bit of lost time due to the bus being late. At least I’d have a story to tell at Drinks Break – about the morning bus being late because of too many oldies. That kind of incident always gets a laugh.

I entered the building where I work, ignored the little lecture from the door monitor about being late, because obviously it already knew why I was late via the Web. I’m a Careers Advisor in the Ministry of Career Fulfilment, or MCF as we insiders call it. It’s a job I enjoy very much, which it presumably why I was nudged in that direction from an early age.

I nodded to a few colleagues who were already hard at work, collected my settling-in drink from the dispenser and went off to my cubicle. I missed my settling-in drink once and didn’t half cause a rumpus!

The dispenser is obviously programmed far too strictly anyway - everybody knows it, but you have to be careful about reporting such things in case it’s some kind of new initiative. I just took it on the chin and made a joke of it in the usual manner. Anyway it’s not my job to make fun of the drinks dispenser – I’m not a techie.

I sat down, ticked off the usual safe-seating checks then went straight into my morning scan of the jobs market apps. I remembered to take a sip from my settling-in drink too, but that’s a pretty reliable habit these days. I rarely trip up over that one and haven’t had a lecture on dehydration for ages.

My job is all done via the Government Web of course, but I have my specialist Careers Advice apps to pick up vacancies, career progressions, temporary roles and so on. The apps match these up to people with the right qualifications and experience and once I have a good match I put a number of processes into action. Once I get to this stage, I tend to finish off my settling-in drink before I roll up my metaphorical sleeves and really get cracking.

Sometimes I have the pleasure of informing people about an unexpected promotion even though they aren’t actually scheduled for a promotion. Off-schedule promotions are our way of taking up the slack and filling the gaps when the unexpected happens, which isn’t often, but we are always prepared for it.

That’s the customer relations aspect coming in, giving someone the news about a promotion and why they must accept it. It’s the bit I like best of all. My scheduled promotion decisions are based on the job market, qualifications and experience and such factors. I enjoy all of it and it’s what I’ve been doing since I left college with my brand new Careers Advice degree.

From this point it all gets very hectic until morning Drinks Break, which usually comes as quite a relief as anyone might imagine. The itch on my arm is completely forgotten by then.

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