Author : Irene Montaner

“And have a nice day,” said the cashier, as he handed me the brown paper bag with my purchases inside.

“You too.” I smiled back at the young boy in front of me. Probably no older than twenty and enjoying the thrills of his first job.

“No, I won’t.”

“I can imagine,” I said sympathetically. I turned around and saw an endless queue of people, mostly women, grabbing onto baskets loaded with trashy clothes, cheap shoes and myriads of creams and make-up. Poor boy, tormented by his first job.

“No, you can’t.”

Whenever I looked, chaos seemed to reign in this gigantic shop. A whirlwind of people busied themselves on this Sunday afternoon unfolding every item of clothing that had been neatly folded before the shop opened, untidying every rack of shoes, and opening every cream that was sealed with a ‘do not open’ seal. Heaps of clothes lay outside the many changing rooms, waiting for some shop assistant to fold them again and bring them back to their place. It was a most apocalyptical image; the worst nightmare of a communist, socialist, or whatever they called themselves these days.

Sundays are the new Saturdays, or so they say. Every Sunday hordes of people took over every shopping centre in town and wasted their time eyeing and touching everything on display before queueing forever to spend every hard-earned cent in crap they didn’t need. Some people, especially young girls, still went shopping in groups, but most consumers were lonely creatures who wandered around distractedly, their eyes fixed on those tablets that tailored their shopping to their needs and suggested everything they didn’t even know they wanted. It was also their preferred method to request a different colour or size; no need to interact with the army of assistants that raced from one corner to another, folding as much clothes as they could and refilling the shelves depleted of stock. It wouldn’t be long before those exhausted employees would be replaced by cyborgs who would not complain about low salaries, ungrateful customers or nightmarish Sunday afternoons.

“Next,” said the young cashier, anger showing in his voice.

Who knows how long I’ve been blocking his queue. I stopped daydreaming and realised that this was more an epiphany than a dream. “Son, do you know who I am?”

“No, and I don’t care.”

“Well, no need for you to know or care anymore ‘cos you’re fired.”

“Say what?” he said, angrier than before.

“You’re fired but don’t take it personally. I just think that some multitasking robots could handle this Sunday mess more efficiently. And they wouldn’t cost me as much as you.”