When not hard at work with the Smart Travel Program at ARCA, I’m hardly working at my writing. Part of that hardly working is a rewriting (retyping actually. My partner refuses to let me use the verb “write” when I never pick up a pen or pencil or even a crayon…point well taken) of a story I started a while back.
The premise? Chris wakes to find his Tablet and smartphone with apparent viruses. His Tablet computer refuses to turn on. His smart phone is deleting texts he is sure are coming from wife. Texts that suggest she’s cheating on him. He’s successful in all aspects of his life. Now he questions that success.
How does one man fight against a system he’s willingly plugged himself into to save himself and his marriage?
With that, here is the edited version of Part 1 of Owned:
That morning started like every other morning of my married work life except for having to go to work. No, I didn’t finally drum up ambition to find the job every responsible husband should strive toward. I already had one. Paid well. Lots of hours, in a position with ambition written all over it. No, that wasn’t my ‘going to work’ change of plans.
For one reason or another, reasons I ascertained later but we will get to that in time, my tablet, which I relied on to project my business image and voice into daily meetings at my high salary low laziness job, gave up on me when I turned off the snooze. I say gave up on me as it is the most appropriate phrase mustered. It didn’t quit, or break, or even die. The screen went a deep magenta. Across the screen the words “time’s up” sat, nonchalant, unapologetic. Rather irritating. Damn technology.
As with any computer-based technology, I did what any user would do–tear the battery out and force a soft reset. Unfortunately, upon turning it back on, the same soft magenta showed with the same not so soft message.
Odd for sure. I did think that. No blue screen of death. No choppy Wi-Fi connection. No freezing or anything common like that. Too bad, I thought, I really liked magenta until then.
The part of me that didn’t care about the color was still thankful not to receive the same tired blue screen of death from the old days of desktop monotony. Damn computers. Hate these damn things. But in today’s world, it’s use them or get off the racetrack for those who do. Do or die. Kill or be killed. Or whatever lazy cliche you care to utilize. Besides, now that they run absolutely anything you want them to or do anything you ask of them, it’s kinda hard to not invite them into your home, your life.
My cell still worked though.
Pulling it out from under my pillow, I checked my sleep pattern App: normal. My results. Not the App, though the App too was normal. Blood pressure and heart rate: better than normal. For such high stressed, high paced work, I prided myself on good health.
I called ahead to say I’d be in today. No one answered. Well, the same automated, yet oddly lovingly female voice, greeted me. Left a message for my childhood friend and business partner, Mark. I don’t consider myself too unorthodox, but she, the automated voice that is, made something quiver behind my navel. Yes, it was that long since my wife and I, well, how shall I saw, saw each other in person. Awake anyway. So is the cost of two successful people in two successful jobs with high stress. .
We get along just fine when we see each other. It’s not like we hate each other. Most of the time I missed her when time provided me the opportunity to think of her. Our jobs take us in different directions throughout the day. When I get home, she’s asleep. Waking her up would be selfish, so I never do. By the time my morning alarm sounds, she’s long gone. Can only assume she feels the same altruistic feelings for me: Why wake him, he looks so sound and peaceful sleeping there. It was our business drive that brought us together. That same drive pulled us apart after our wedding night. Irony or disappointment. You pick.
A few quick swipes and thumb taps on my cell and the shower started itself, warming to my morning setting of 102 degrees. Set the blinds to open onto the cityscape below before I dry off. Tinted windows. Don’t worry. I’m not creepy. Coffee set to percolate while I set out the day’s suit. Pants included today. Benefits of video conference calls is you only have to look sharp from the neck up. At the same time, this line of work kills you in the same direction. From the neck up. Sharp and dead. Tender veal patty atop a China plate.
Showered and shaved, a muffled incoming text message rang from my cell on our bed. It was my wife.
“If you want to make dinner plans with me, you have to show up.”
I read this aloud back to our empty room and my irritatingly dysfunctional tablet. I read it again, squinting in the morning sun. I stood there drying the old fashioned way.
I didn’t make any dinner plans.
I sighed at the realization, she’s probably cheating and texted the wrong man. Couldn’t blame her. Last time we made love we were celebrating an anniversary. Not our last one either. Still ate at my stomach though. She’s still my wife. I’m still her husband.
Half not wanting to start an awkward conversation but mostly unwilling to believe that initial pang of manly jealousy, I tossed my cell onto the all too empty bed, finishing my morning routine, sans the addition of pants. I still had to go to work after all. Just wished she wouldn’t have brought me into the mix, accidentally or otherwise.
Of course I still loved her. And always will. That’s human nature. Love it, cling to it, ignore it until it wants to leave, then love it and cling to it again before it wants to leave again. Cyclical. It wasn’t my fault we rarely saw each other because of our conflicting schedules. Not entirely anyway. And I could hardly hold it against her for seeking companionship elsewhere, I’d probably do the same if time and circumstance permitted, which it didn’t. Perhaps she sent it to me hoping I would start paying attention to her again, I thought. I had this job when we married. If anything, she ignored me. Her job came after we married. If she tried to get a rise out of me, she did. Still I had to work though. Time for talking would have to wait. Besides, I didn’t want to have to have that conversation. I hated awkward and difficult conversations.
My coffee was ready per my appliance App specs on my cell. Good thing my tablet and cell were synced up together otherwise I’d be late to work and jonesing for caffeine.
While brushing my teeth, my free hand thumbed through options on my cell until I found my Auto-Start App. Living in upper Michigan made this little automatic car starter App invaluable, kept me as warm as one could hope to be. Coffee in hand, pants on, cell in pocket, tablet ignored to give it time to consider it’s bad behavior, I shivered through the dash to my waiting car like a woman in a wedding dress trying to avoid droplets in a torrential downpour, and just as pointless. Even fingers wrapped around my coffee thermos were already frozen meat-cicles when I slammed the car door. One positive: driving to work allowed me to catch up on some local programming. Earlier podcasts, of course, via my cloud podcast playlists, also synced to my car radio. If only you couldn’t sync morning traffic to your morning routine. Coffee, heater, AC, radio, shower, music, documents, anything you want can be synced up. Hell, you can sync up with the damn Space Station. But civil engineers still can’t make a morning commute take less than the whole morning.
(This version was reedited on October 30 to create better fluidity between parts and tighten sentences…I hope)