Author: DJ Lunan
“London is ours! Zero-ing in on infamy!” announced Haggard Elsson, winking to the air steward and striding purposefully from the First Class exit from BA0171 with his Executive Assistant Freya trailing him, awkwardly wheeling both of their suitcases.
London’s City Airport was one of their first customers and remained a flagship project for sustainable technology in a fractious age. Haggard’s smile was broad as his vibrating footsteps on the skywalk spurred the Zero-walls into life, broadcasting BBC’s News24 in Norwegian – his selected language. On the floor, ceiling, and sides, the world’s daily tribulations laid bare, using zero carbon, solar and kinetic energy and little maintenance.
Yet with considerable dismay, Haggard saw the news displaying on his Z-walls was all about technology, with today’s expert a gleaming, stern-faced liquid-eyebrowed Professor Nochs promoting his latest management book “Progressive Notches”.
Haggard moaned, “Can’t we firewall this insolent turd and his insidious nonsense?”
“Unfortunately”, began Fleur sweating heartily alongside, “we sold the lease rights to our Zero-walls technology, not their content; they can show whatever feeds they want”.
Haggard knew this already. Close-lipped, his eyes husking groundnuts, his arms windmilling as he flipped the bird and other fingered profanities at the Professor’s twenty-foot-high face as they wheeled along endless skywalks towards the elevators.
“Screw you London! This isn’t the welcome I expected!”.
Freya sighed. She quite liked Nochs’ delivery, it was understandable to the layman, and he had a childish fascination that piqued her fancy. She would never tell Haggard. He’d hated him since their childhood rivalry as Rubik’s Cube prodigies.
“Flipping inefficient lifts”, shouted Haggard at no one, pointlessly pushing repeatedly the call button.
Nochs’ bore down on them like a bad dream about a dystopian future. “Everyone talks about progress, and giant transformative leaps being made by technology, but it is only now we can make this leap, with the Omni-cell technology. We will create over 50 million new jobs worldwide. And we will eradicate many inefficient jobs. Did you know the only job that disappeared in the USA since 1950 is ‘lift operator’? We have 50% of the funding from Canadian and US pension funds, I am here in London in final discussions to obtain the remaining 50%”.
The lift doors opened, Haggard shook his head impatiently as Freya bashed her way in with their oversized luggage.
As the doors finally closed and the Z-walls abuse stopped, Haggard let out an audible sigh. Followed closely by a harrumph. “Lift operators, eh, Nochs. Interesting. Let’s ride this lift a few times, Freya”, he enunciated clearly, pressing the Down button once, firmly.
Freya tolerated his peccadillos. She was sure he was returning to punch the Z-walls.
After three fruitless trips up-and-down, Haggard was smiling again, almost giggling.
“Freya, remind me what sort of contract we have with the lease of Z-walls?”.
“Standard lease of hardware, own-maintenance insurance and cover, full tech and hardware support, 0.25 FTE on site, and zero content restrictions”.
Haggard’s eyes were sparkling, “Can we slip a new job into each one that is in a building of more than, say, six floors?”
“An additional maintenance or tech support role you mean?”, Freya quizzed.
“Nope. Marketing. I want a Lift Operator written in. No cost to the clients at all. We will pay. We will use interns, dress them in company pink, and…..”
“….make sure they are charismatic and …”, continued Freya
“…sell the absolute heck out of our company while pressing buttons!”, finished Haggard.
“How can Professor Noch start or obtain funding if his theoretical foundation is built on a historical lie!” exclaimed Haggard proudly.
Although I see a ‘Fleur’ subbed for a ‘Freya’ at one point.
Thanks. One Freya travelled to tomorrow…..
I don’t know why stories like this about technology/advertising/etc… run amok are so entertaining. It’s not like we’re that far off from it right now, but it’s a fun idea to toy with. Good story!
Thanks C! I agree, advertising gives us ample data to byte into!
Very clever writing DJ. Loved this… what a nightmare scenario, corporations screaming their digital sales at you from Z-panels that cover every surface and then a flesh and blood pitch to smack you over the head the moment you step foot in the elevator. The shape of the very, very near future.
Thanks Hari. We can only hope the human touch in the future isnt just about the deal!
True that 🙂