Author : Trip Venturella
“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.”
Asher was heavy. Not fat, as it was impossible, borderline illegal, to be fat any more (for health safety, of course), but heavy.
He had spent the last two hours at one of the terminals at the Lifestyle Regulation Office. Half of that time was waiting for a terminal to open up. They were at full capacity, as usual.
The screen flickered, “The next field will require PERSONAL INFORMATION, are you sure you wish to proceed? YES/NO”
Asher pressed YES.
“If you wish to make a requisition, please enter your FIRST NAME and MONETARY IDENTIFICATION NUMBER.”
Asher typed ASHER and *******.
“Are you sure you wish to make a requisition involving a monetary transaction? YES/NO”
“Thank you for your time. To complete the requisition, please proceed to room fifteen, floor six.”
Asher almost smiled, but two hours at the LRO sapped anyone’s will to smile. He went to the front door, entered his name at the terminal, and the glass door slid open, a tiny ingress into the immense stone bureaucracy of the LRO. A voice warned him to watch his step. His glasses fogged up in the hot, sterile, soap-scented air. Asher blindly stumbled his way to the elevator. When the elevator arrived, a voice warned him to watch his step.
The voice warned him again when he got off at floor six. He entered his name again at the screen outside room fifteen, and when the door opened the voice warned him. Asher mumbled a warning to the voice.
A lady in a blue LRO uniform was seated behind a computer. She smiled at Asher. Like most LRO employees, she had no name tag. As many times as Asher had been to the LRO, he had never seen the same attendant twice.
“Can I help you?” Her voice was gratingly cheery.
Asher re-adjusted his glasses, “I need to requisition three gallons of gasoline.”
The lady examined the computer screen for a moment, “You are Asher?”
The lady in blue beamed, “Are you sure you want gasoline? It is both explosive and toxic.”
“I’m sure. I need it to drive a 1991 Chrysler New Yorker to Scottsdale.”
“Have you considered hiring a moving service? I can book them for you here.”
“I just need gasoline. A moving service costs four times as much.”
“But it’s much safer.”
Asher was finally frustrated, “I don’t need a moving service when I can drive myself!”
“Please don’t get angry. Anger results in poor decisions. And if you have any complaints, please register them at one of the terminals outside.”
“I won’t complain, but I need the gasoline, please.”
The lady printed out a piece of paper. She handed it to Asher, “Please read and sign this indemnification form.”
Asher signed it.
“Now take it to the Allocation Office on the second floor. They’ll safely fill your requisition. And Asher?”
“Drive safely and watch what you eat. A free country like ours needs safe, happy, healthy citizens!”