Where the guitar sounds came from, he couldn’t quite place, but they were present and steadily increasing in volume. He recognized the riff and it gave him a little buzz of excitement. With each tone he got more and more separated from the peaceful world he was in just now, but wasn’t able to remember anymore. The sound took over and triggered the first of his senses to become operational, he felt his blood flow a little faster as more instruments joined the guitar and he instinctively knew what was coming. As the song was building up, he suddenly noticed the matrass underneath him and the bedsheets covering him. However, he still refused to open his eyes; he was very comfortable and knew that this was not the alarm that he had set the night before.
As the intro went on, the song gained in intensity and 30 seconds in the drums joined and the band was at full speed now. The high pitched voice of the singer started, “Welcome to the jungle, we’ve got fun and games. We got everything you want, honey we know the names. We are the people that can find whatever you may need. If you got the money, honey we got your disease. Jungle, welcome to the jungle. Watch it bring you to your shun n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n knees, knees. Uh I, I wanna watch you bleed.”
A foot slowly tapping
He noticed his right foot slowly tapping along with the song and realized that there was no fighting it anymore. With his eyes still shut, he jolted his body to the right and swung his left hand to the nightstand. It went straight on his phone and as a well-practiced gymnast performs his routine, he stuck the landing and turned off the alarm. The band stopped playing immediately with the satisfaction of having executed its goal. The lead singer could be heard with a last convincing effort, “Uh, I, I want to hear you scream.” And it was quiet.
Alex was awake and his bed noticed as well, because even with his eyes still closed, he could see the complete darkness ebbing away and an orange hue move in. Dazed by what had just happened, he felt an echo of the song inside himself. The rude awakening made him think something was up. With his phone in his left hand, he moved it in front of his face, as he mustered all the power he had in himself to pry open his eyes. His vision was still a bit blurry; he thought the clock said 5:25 a.m. “5:25 a.m., that can’t be right,” he thought to himself, “that’s way too early. Why would this stupid machine wake me up at this time?” Suddenly all kinds of emergencies shot through his mind; his mom hospitalized, his house burned down, his account hacked, and so on. This extra adrenaline boost in combination with the rhythmic wake-up, made him move a bit faster than his usual morning routine. He sat up and faced the, now, orange glowing wall.
A preset sunrise
It was his preset sunrise from his hometown that was projected on the Nano-led covered wall. This ultra-HD screen showed his desktop from floor to ceiling. Still recovering from the state of slumber he was just recently pulled away from, it dawned on him again where he was. This room had been his home for the last four days and it had served its purpose more than adequately. His latest job allowed him to move up from the dumps he spend most of his time in. It was not completely high end, but he could get used to this. There were the subtle differences, such as clean floors without carpet, soft lighting, which didn’t immediately burn the retina upon flipping the switch, a well-equipped and functioning kitchen. The kitchen was quite nice and better than he had in his actual house. A big fridge and freezer of stainless steel marked the corner, as one would enter the room. The countertop was a black imitation marble surface with a stainless steel sink in the middle. A stove and oven was placed against the wall and in between the sink and the fridge was a microwave oven. And perhaps most importantly, a coffeemaker. The rest of the room met his basic needs. A bed, one of the new fully equipped smart ones, a small table with two chairs in the corner next to the big windows. And a medium sized wardrobe build into the wall. The bathroom was rather small, but clean. It had a shower, toilet and a small sink with a round mirror on the wall.
The best and most exciting feature was the wall, still covering his view with a picture he took just before leaving his hometown in search for work. Sitting up against the headboard of his bed, he look at it and saw all the features of his desktop, with some extras. For starters, on the right top corner was a live feed of his vital signs, something he normally would not see. His matrass was fitted with sensors detecting all kinds of metrics. From his heartbeat, which was still slightly elevated but coming down to its normal pace. It showed his weight, something he wasn’t too obsessed about, but he was pretty satisfied it showed 150lbs. Right next to that was his current height, as per the matrass it read 5’7”. Using electrical nodes, it measured his hydration level and cautioned him that he should drink at least 1.2 liters to reach nominal levels. At the bottom a small notification saying, “Your medical profile has been stored on-chain.”
An urgent message
Below the medical widget, it showed the calendar, highlighting April fifth. And on the other side he could see his inbox, with what appeared to be an urgent message. Before opening it, he had a quick look at his accounts statuses, which were available to him in the section where he could see his current wallets amounts. His last job, which he had finished the day before, had increased his funds and seeing these new figures, pleased him. He had planned to take a day or two off and this confirmed that he had the means to do so. But there was that urgent message, which he had to address now.
He took his phone and opened the remote desktop app, which connected him directly to the wall-covered version in front of him. He clicked the message on his phone and it opened in the center of the screen in high-definition. Within one glance, he could see that this was something special. As he opened the email, a small pop-up appeared hovering on the left top corner of his screen. He had never seen an e-mail do something like that. It showed a percentage and a time. “89% acceptance rate if accepted before 5:47 a.m.,” the message read. He looked at the time and saw that he had around 14 minutes left before this deadline would pass. He had only used Atala Jobs for 1,5 years, right after he graduated and struggled to find full-time employment. Ever since, he had always found some type of work, but never something this elaborate.
The pop-up showed a little downward arrow at the bottom and he clicked on it. The little window expanded and showed a decrease in job acceptance of 12%, if he waited until after 5:47 am. He was fully awake now and he could feel the anxiety entering his body, the heart-rate monitor suddenly showed the beats increasing. He moved himself into a more upright position and focused on the message itself.
A government thing
The sender was Meteo.gov. “.gov, a government thing,” his mind was trying to connect some dots. He thought about the few occasions that he had met other A-J remotes. Being a remote meant being on the road all the time, which was what he really liked about it. He literally followed the money and work and didn’t have to decide about where or when to go, or even how long to stay there. He knew that when he had started, he was among the first remotes to sign up for Atala Jobs, but now that number was steadily growing. Even though, meeting others like him was extremely rare. One instance he remembered, when working in some place in Wisconson, he met this girl who had been assigned to the same project. She was obviously higher in status, because she was given the leader role. During that project they mainly spoke about the task at hand. Just briefly, they talked about their life as a remote. Here he remembered her mentioning the government jobs. “.gov’s can boost your rep considerably; if one comes along, jump on it like a hawk on a mouse.” was more or less the way she put it. He remembered her for being better at electrical work than verbal eloquence.
Here he was, with his first .gov. His reputation could use a boost, because, although the jobs he had had so far were ok, he was still just getting by. Ambition wasn’t a word that would firstly come to mind when one thought of Alex and he knew that. His reputation score currently was a 3,61 out of 5, which had been this way for quite some time. More often than not he felt like these jobs were carrying him around, rather than the other way around. This didn’t really upset him or anything, he was fine with the way he lived up until now. That’s why this new assignment offer was something to think about and about its consequences. If he did a good job, his rep score would increase significantly. Meaning that he would get more and better jobs, but he would have to keep his quality of work high if not to drop too fast. If he did a poor job, his rating would drop so fast, he wouldn’t even be hired to change a simple fuse.
Focus here Alex
“Ten minutes left, before acceptance percentage drops with 12%.” The pop-up window alarmed him. “Ok, focus here Alex,” he regrouped himself, “at least read what the job is about.” He clicked on the mail itself and it was enlarged over the entire wall. For such an official message, it was very brief and formal. “Dear Mr. Gomez,” it started. Immediately he noticed they got his last name. They must have some impressive security clearance, because his other employers never got into that level of his personal details. He wondered what else they could see. The mail continued; “There is a disturbance in the Meteo.gov network near Page, AZ, the coverage and efficiency went down with 6%. We need an electrical technician with basic programming skills to assess the situation and bring the network back to optimal operations.” In short, this meant that there was a node down in the grid and the hired remote had to replace, fix and incorporate a new one. He knew more or less how to do this and was confident he could do a good job.
“According to your skills: electrical engineering, Rep: 3,98 – Basic programming, Rep: 3,25, and your current location: Flagstaff, AZ, you are among the top most suitable and nearest remotes available,” the cold tone of the e-mail continued. A bit shocked about seeing his reputational rating dissected into his two main skills. A 3,98 for electrical engineering kind of surprised him, it was higher that he had imagined, but the rating for Basic programming was only 3,25. “Basic programming,” he could feel the annoyance in his own voice, “what do they call Basic. Haven’t they seen my Github entries these last few months? That’s not basic and then only a 3,25.” Obviously, he thought of himself as a better programmer and programming was the part he liked best, but this .gov entity tore him apart and set him straight. He had never seen his score this detailed; he didn’t even have access to this.
It was 5:39am
He quickly looked at the time and it said 5:39 a.m. The matrass registered the little uptick in his pulse and he went to the last part of the email. This was the most exciting part, the compensation. “By accepting this assignment, you will be allotted level 5 housing and menu selection. The total ADA compensation consists of 15 ADA upon signing and 20 ADA upon successful completion, with a bonus of two Satoshi if executed with a 10/10 satisfaction score.” From the corner of his eye, he noticed the health widget move slightly to the orange spectrum. “35 ADA?” his surprise made him mention it aloud, “that’s a good month’s rent. And two Satoshi, this is incredible.” He had never managed to gather any Bitcoin, at current prices it was far out of his reach, but to get two Satoshi added to his wallet, was something he couldn’t even fathom.
Bitcoin was still around, people collected it, but it was used more as a luxury item on different online platforms or as a bragging right, than that it was actually used to buy and sell things. It had moved away from being a great store of value quite some time ago. Especially after proof of work and its mining fell out of fashion, as it couldn’t keep up with the speeds that other currencies offered. But it was the first and therefore still known by all. Even having a few Satoshi in your wallet would elevate your social standings. It never reached its all times highs again from those wild days in the mid-twenties, but it was still very valuable.
Acceptance percentage drops with 12%
“Five minutes left, before acceptance percentage drops with 12%.” was the next warning from the pop-up window. He had almost reached the bottom of the email. “Upon successful completion of the project, you will be added to the preferential remotes pool for most .gov entities. Elevating job acceptance rates with 10%.” Underneath this last little paragraph was a pre-acceptance button, with the instructions, “Pre-accept in order to see your personalized contract.”
As he saw the minute digit change to 43, his nerves and insecurity showed their faces. “Could I do this job? How would the government control my life? How much money can I make? What does this move mean to my life?” For the first time he really looked at his job and career. But four minutes wasn’t enough time to reflect on his entire life and plan his future, he had to decide something. Rejecting this would set him back to live in the dumps he had frequented more than he had wanted, his rep would take a considerable hit. But he would be able to choose more freely what to do and what not to do.
Level three status
On the other hand, accepting this job, would finally lift him out of the level three status he had had for the last year and place him among the lucky level fours. A sudden urge of ambition and pride over took him, but the thing that really pushed him over the edge was the fact that he could now go and contact his friends and they would immediately see that four next to his profile name. An unexplainable and new sensation took over, the desperate desire to have himself be represented by that score and show his friends and family that he did have value in this world. That his choice to join Atala Jobs and become a remote, a term his family detested, was finally paying off. He was 28 and for the first time he had a little taste of accomplishment. Without even noticing or thinking about it, he clicked pre-accept. An official and clearly structured document showed the details he had read in the email and there was sign button on the bottom.
Still a bit overwhelmed by it all, he eyed the document and went straight to the bottom. 5.46 a.m. the clock on his screen said, and although he should have read the contract better than he did, he pressed the sign button on his phone. “Please use two of the following biometric identifiers to confirm signature; fingerprint-scan, retina-scan, facial-scan or voice-recognition.” Was the instruction on his phone. He chose the fingerprint and retina option and placed his right index finger on the scanner of his phone and let the camera scan his right eye. “Congratulations, you have been awarded project #32674 for Meteo.gov. The amount of 15 ADA has been added to your Daedalus wallet and further instructions are send to you by e-mail.” As soon as this pop-up appeared on the wall in front of him, he saw a notification in his wallet and 1 more new email in his inbox. Automatically he went to his Daedalus wallet and noticed that 15 ADA had been added to his total, which had now almost been doubled.
Out of his dream world
He had only been awake for 21 minutes and from the time that he heard the guitar sounds lift him out of his dream world; he had entered a new one. And didn’t quite know what to do with himself. He could read his level of excitement in the top right corner of his screen, where his heart had entered a more reddish zone. “My profile!” he thought. His coordination was a little off because of his excitement, but he finally managed to click on his profile. His disappointment was instant when he saw the 3.92 in the green circle next to his picture. “What happened to the 4?” he exclaimed, “It is still a three, I can’t show this to my friends.” He sunk down in his bed and the red moved towards the green as the matrass displayed his dismay on the bright wall.
A sudden beep brought him out of his sulky state, the new e-mail required action. “The government needs your responds,” he told himself, “you are now a .gov remote.” During this last half hour he had experience many emotions, mainly the exciting positive ones. But that beep, that little sound, was packed with elements of life he wasn’t sure he was ready for.
A few moments later, the initial wave of adrenaline was gone. His body sensed he had woken up too early and his muscles wanted to go back to their previous state of numbness. He could feel them weakening and he even had to fight his eyes to stay open. His vision went blurry for a while, as he was ready to give in to the needs of all that whispered, “Sleep”. A feeling of calm started to enter his mind, ready to turn this morning’s episode into a new dream. The orange glow on the wall gave him some whiffs of his hometown. The matrass started to engulf him and he sank deeper and deeper, he felt his phone slip out of his hand.
With a sudden shock of terror, his eyes flung open. That noise again, that screeching sound went through his entire body. The e-mail hadn’t gone away, even though somewhere he had hoped it had. For the second time this early in the day, he had to figure out what was going on. He looked around into the room, but it wasn’t what it was before. It felt more distant and cold than when he stepped in first for the project that was now finished. The orange was gone and had transitioned to his normal background of some random picture of a lake surrounded by a mountain range. From his bed, he looked at the kitchen and the blue from the wall was mirrored on the stainless steel from the appliances that now stared at him. Even the bed felt different and there was an urge to jump out of it.
The email was still there
His desktop, with the email app open, was still there. There was no way of ignoring a screen the size of the room. With his mind far removed from the scene, he gazed at whatever was projected there. This only lasted a few second, before he remembered the new ADA in his account. Were they really there? He snapped out of his bewilderment and his left hand went feeling for his phone. He opened his Daedalus wallet and saw the new amount. 28.85 ADA, the 15 had been added as he could vaguely remember had happened. This brought him right back to where he was before and without even realizing it, his arms flew up with his fists punching the air. And there were still 20 ADA waiting for him and possibly two Satoshi.
“Time for that e-mail,” he told himself. He clicked on the mail that had a little red flag next to it. Now e was ready for it. He was going to really take on this job and give it his best. A little ping sound echoed through the room instantly after he released the screen. There was another pop-up blocking him to his new future. His joy was replaced by annoyance. “Employ.gov requested a read receipt be sent when message ‘Meteo.gov assignment #32674’ is read. Do you want to send a receipt?” was what it read. Followed by a little box to tick that said, “Don’t ask me about sending receipts again.” And the two options at the bottom; yes and no. Alex hesitated for a few seconds, thinking about the implications of the choices. “And so it starts.” he thought to himself. He didn’t tick the box and carefully, trying to remain inconspicuous, he gently tapped the screen on his phone trying not to wake anyone up on the other side. The pop-up disappeared and the message was now available to him.
He needed some caffeine
His first official email from a .gov entity. He decided he couldn’t yet deal with it before adding some caffeine to his system. The matrass knew he was awake, as it kept showing him, but his brain wasn’t quite convinced yet. Trying to stay under the warm protection of the sheets as long as possible, he slid his feet slowly out from under them as they found their way to the floor. A cold shiver made him abort the initial touchdown, and he reconsidered his aversion for carpet. The second time around he planted his foot fully on the white tiles. He sat on his bed for a second as he slowly rose and walked straight to the coffeemaker. He added some water, put in the capsule, placed his mug under the nozzle and pressed the required buttons. As the water was heating up, he turned and faced the wall. Next to sender, it said: HR@employ.gov. The receiver was him; Alex_Lobito@jobs.atala. His email address always made him think of his father. He was the one who started calling him Lobito. He never fully understood why it started, but it stuck to him and he liked it. In many ways he was a Lobito, he needed his own space and freedom, but he also needed that sense of belonging to a group even if it was from a distance. Such relations he had with his family, his friends and now as well with work. He never really missed the people in his life, except for his father. The smell of the fresh brew being prepared next to him, opened up another sense, that of life.
Once the elixir had filled his mug, he took it and went to the table. He looked outside the window for a bit, where the day was also about to start. His laptop was still on the table where he left it the night before and with the touch of a key its screen opened and copied what was on the wall. After a quick search for the ‘remote desktop’ app, he turned it back into what it used to be, just that, a wall. He preferred the intimacy of his laptop. Without looking for it, he grabbed his mug and slowly moved it towards his mouth, his lips testing the temperature and he poured the first sips of the day into his mouth. This was something no smart device could measure, the effect black coffee had on him. He always drank his first one black, after that he didn’t mind switching a bit, but he never added sugar. He liked the bitterness, that edge of sharpness kept him ready.
‘Meteo.gov assignment #32674’
Allowing the coffee to do its work, he continued to read. The subject line was; ‘Meteo.gov assignment #32674’. Not a very inviting start, but he figured that they didn’t have time for cute subject lines. “Dear Mr. Gomez,” he would have to get used to this. “We at Employ.gov welcome you to our family and wish to congratulate you with your first assignment. Below you will find all the information required for a satisfactory execution of the job at hand. Please read it carefully and follow the steps as per the instructions.” Being part of another family was something he hadn’t been aiming for, but at least they welcomed him, before going right down to the nitty gritty. “Being a first time member of Employ.gov, your .gov account has been created. All the necessary data has been extracted from your current employment provider and uploaded to our system. Your e-mail is: email@example.com. Your Employ.gov ID number is 337142. To enter your Employ.gov account, open the app which has been installed on to your system and use your biometrics to enter.” Another surprise during these early stages of being part of this ‘family’. “An app has been installed on to my system?” Alex asked himself. He minimized the email screen and looked at his desktop, which was orderly structured and alphabetized as always. But there it was, the last in line in his list of icons. It was a white circle, with Employ.gov written across in a kind of blue that was a little too dark to be pleasing to the soul. He dared not yet click to open it and maximized the email instead, with a slight uneasiness. He wondered what else they could do to his system.
The next part were the instructions for his assignment. “There is a disturbance in the Meteo.gov network near Page, AZ, the coverage and efficiency went down with 6%. We need an electrical technician with basic programming skills to assess the situation and bring the network back to optimal operations.” was the exact same description he had seen before. “According to our calculations this job would require between 24 and 30 hours to be completed. Refer to your first day itinerary below.
Monday – April 5th
Monday – April 5th
- Pick-up from Flagstaff, AZ. – 8:15 a.m.
- Your uniform and identification card will be handed to you by the driver.
- The menu selection must be made within the first 1 hour the transfer.
- Arrival at the Meteo.gov facility in Page, AZ. – approx. 10:30 a.m.
- Luggage will be dropped off at the housing facility.
- Food items according to selected menu will be dropped off at the housing facilities.
- Workstation assignment by local staff for project set-up. – 10:45 a.m.
- Start of initial diagnostics of hardware and software status. – 10:55 a.m.
- Confirmation of diagnosis and data of diagnostics to be uploaded. – 15:00 p.m.
- Work plan and load to be determined for the completion of the project. – 16:30 p.m.
- Confirmation to proceed and end of work day – 17:00 p.m.
“You’re not in Kansas anymore, Lobito.” shot through his mind while feeling overwhelmed by the meticulous planning they had given him. He was going to have to wear a uniform? He had only worn a uniform one day in his life. During a short stint in a fast-food chain they made him wear a uniform, which felt like it burned his flesh. He still managed to wear it for an hour or three before he stormed into a storage room, changed and walked out of the front door without looking back. He wondered what experience this new uniform would give him.
All the emotions running through him
He couldn’t quite deal with all the emotions running through him right now, so he just went on to finish the mail. It didn’t end as friendly as it had started. “Make sure to be ready at the time of the pick-up. A delay of more than five minutes will null and void the contract.” Five minutes was a short window, even for him, who considered himself to be quite punctual. But then again, he had never had a timetable this strict. Getting in that pick-up car was essential and would be his first goal. He finished his coffee with a sense of determination. He would to this job to the best of his abilities, but he wasn’t whether he would do another .gov assignment after this. Planting his feet firmly on the tiles, he stood up and went to the bathroom. “I am a .gov remote now.” was the expression that accompanied him as he followed his natural itinerary after finishing his first coffee.
It was 8:12 a.m., and he was waiting on the sidewalk in front of the orange brick building. As he moved from his toes to his heels and back, he went over the steps he had taken when he exited the apartment. He had put the leftovers in the pick-up box and scanned it. All his possessions now rested on his shoulders again ready for the transfer. He had logged out from the server in the apartment, deleted his details, and after pulling the old door shut, scanned the QR code from the display next to it. The Atala LivingApp had asked him to sign out of the apartment and wait for approval from the owner to get his deposit back.
When he looked back at the building, he caught his reflection in the tinted glass entry doors. He had chosen his trusted travel outfit, which started at the bottom with his favorite blue low Chuck Taylor All Stars, followed by his blue jeans and a grey t-shirt that said; “What’s at stake? Everything!” His hair was just the right amount of chaotic on a smooth looking face. His posture straightened and his head nodded from what he saw. Just at that moment, a soft humming sound made him turn around as his ride appeared behind him, and the silhouette behind him suddenly lost an inch or two.
The car beamed back at him
The vague outlines of himself that the car beamed back at him, suddenly made his backpack feel quit heavy. It was the Tesla C4-A, the latest model in the corporate series. After the founder had left on one of his Mars missions to help build the settlement, the new management steered away from the more rebellious image and focused on the corporate market. It was one continuous line, with its arched roof and sloped windows from the front to the back. The car stopped, the metallic cover broke its solid structure as its front trunk opened for Alex and the front-right passenger side rolled up. With a little skip, he shifted his weight and moved towards the vehicle. His body steered him to the back, but his mind quickly adjusted his footing towards the front and he deposited his bag in the hole waiting for him. This closed as soon he moved his hand away from the little hatch. He walked over to the gaping opening on the right of the car. The side was all gone and there was no support to help him take his seat. His eyes scanned the sterile edge of where he had expected a door. His hands found something to lean on and he let himself fall into it.
As soon as he landed and moved his feet inside, the side rolled down shutting him in. Upon connecting to the floor, it snapped into place and became a solid fiber protective layer. Alex knew this kind of fiber technology could change its consistency from flexible to rock hard with a change of its electric signature, but he had never seen it in action. The cage was now sealed and without hesitation started to move. He had his own compartment, he guessed there were four seats in this car, but the screens separating each of them didn’t allow him to see them. He couldn’t even look out of the windshield, his body being pressed into the seat was his only clue that he was moving.
Welcome, Mr. Gomez
In front of him, a video screen displayed: “Welcome, Mr. Gomez.” It allowed him to look at it for a few seconds, before switching to the home screen. Alex was still tossing in his seat to find a comfortable seating position and he felt it molding to his body. His were hands on his legs, resisting the urge to grab hold of the dash. The screen now showed him a few options. The application apparently tracked his eyes, because he opened the car settings without ever moving his hands. He then gazed at the ‘window’ section, which opened this menu. And saw four slide bars, one for each side. He moved the windshield to clear in old-fashioned style using his finger and as he did, the road in front of him opened up. It startled him, because he now realized how fast this car was actually going. After that, he selected the screen on his left. As his finger made its way to the right he didn’t know if he wanted that seat to be empty or not. It was, he relaxed a bit more and left it somewhere in the middle. The ones behind him had the same result, which meant he was all alone.
He left the window settings and saw a notification on the right top corner of the screen. It told him there was some important information for him to read. He opened it and as he started looking over the same information he had read earlier, the car suddenly came to a halt and all his windows went blurry, locking him in his bubble again. The front trunk release and a side of the car snap lose and roll up. He hid himself in his seat, which had now adjusted itself to his body. His hands tight on his legs, his feet pressing the floor and his head pointed upwards, allowing his ears to search for any kind of noise. He felt a little bit of movement and heard the front trunk close. The car moved from side to side and he figured the new passenger had entered. The side rolled down, undergoing its transformation and his body was pushed against the seat again. The screen in front of him asked him if he wanted his passenger to be able to see him. His reflex had clicked yes. He then went back to the window settings to see his fellow traveler. First, he adjusted the windshield again and then he tried the center window. As he moved the slider to the right, nothing changed. A little pop-up appeared in front of him. “Occupant number two has chosen to stay anonymous.”
His breathing was slightly elevated
He sat back into the chair, which now encased him. His breathing was slightly elevated and he found it difficult to relax. There was another person in this vehicle with him, just on the other side of this little wall. A ton of questions entered his mind, but there was no one to ask them. He then decided to read the rest of the information on the screen in front of him. He had reached the point of the .gov identification. “Click on the link to start verification.” With his enclosure pressing down on him, he felt he had no other choice but to follow the instructions. He clicked and a small window appeared with a QR-code. “Use the .gov app on your handheld device and scan the QR-code.” He had to squirm to grab the phone from his jeans pocket, opened the app and scanned the code. “Employee #337142, look straight ahead for 5 seconds, a facial biometrics scan will complete system update.” As a deer on a dark country road, he stared in imaginative headlights. “Scan complete, biometric data and transfer confirmed. Profile updated o.c.” And the window closed just as his eyes finished the sentence.
“Under your seat, you will find your hr.gov welcome package. Contents: Id-card with Prism-chip and uniform. Change into your uniform before arrival at destination.” The mere sight of the word uniform made him shiver. His arm reached under his seat hoping the message was just a bad dream. His fingers however confirmed the presence of the box and he took it out from under him. It wasn’t very big, but nevertheless he could feel the weight, not so much with his hands as with his being. The instructions told him to scan the code with the .gov app. He opened his phone and scanned the code. “Package received. Profile updated o.c.” He then realized that all this information was being stored “on chain”, which meant every step he took was tracked. He now had no excuse but to wear the uniform.
The last paragraph counted
The last paragraph of the message was perhaps one of the most important ones. “Dear employee #337142, failure to comply with the basic requirements of working for hr.gov will result in voiding the contract. Without pay and a signification reduction in reputation points. We welcome you aboard and will provide you with all the assistance you need. Please scan the code to confirm having understood the above information.” He took his phone, unlocked it, lifted it up facing the screen and before he knew it the message was gone and the word; ‘confirmed’ appeared.
Alex opened the package and saw the badge on top of the uniform. He placed it in the little cup holder on his left and lifted the shirt. A light blue collared shirt, with his last name and the hr.gov logo embroidered on it on his left chest. The brown khaki trousers completed the ensemble. His seat was spacious enough for him to change. As he took of his shoes, the car suddenly halted again. Another passenger was being picked-up. He waited for the car to do what it had done for him and passenger number two and once he figured they were moving again, he continued to change into the outfit. He didn’t even bother to change the windshield after he had put his own clothes in the box. It wouldn’t have mattered, because his vision was as blurred as the windows around him.
A stop jolted him back
He couldn’t tell how long the ride had lasted, but another stop jolted him back to his cocooned reality. Picking up a fourth person, he though. However, the side on his ride snapped lose and rolled itself up inside the frame. A sudden fear overtook him and he hesitated getting out of the vehicle. Slowly swiveling his legs out and confirming the solid ground underneath his feet, he pushed himself up out of the car. The side of the car closed and he received a notification from his phone. “Your luggage will be delivered to your residence, proceed to the reception and scan your arrival.” The trunk had never opened and the car was in motion again, leaving him behind.
He walked up to the doors of the grey concrete building and saw himself standing in the reflection of the door. A light blue cap on his head with the hr.gov logo in the center. A light blue collared shirt on top of the brown khaki trousers and his blue low Chuck Taylor All Stars at the bottom. They seemed to have lost the light tread with which they normally accompanied him. He took his phone out, unlocked it, and scanned the code at the door. “Welcome employee #337142. Arrival at .gov facility #48766 confirmed. Profile updated o.c.”