Two Stops Into The Future
First Stop: 2050
James had to pick Charlie up from school today, Alex was stuck at work. They step into the house right after a short ride on the Mintro, Charlie runs in, drops his backpack on the floor and right when he is about to step into his Nintendo, he sees a cardboard box with his dad’s name on it. He opens it up and finds some old pictures and old toys. At the bottom of it he sees this red metal thing with four wheels, he pulls it out and runs to his dad.
Charlie: “Dad, what is this?”
James: “Oh, you found my old toy box, your mom made me clean the attic.”
Charlie: “But what is it?”
James: “It’s a car! I can’t believe it has been so long since I saw one.”
Charlie: “What are the wheels for?”
James chuckles; as he plays with the tiny toy car, he begins telling Charlie a story about his childhood.
James: Back when I was your age, there was no Mintro. Streets looked completely different, they were really dirty, and cars were everywhere. Cities were congested and polluted. People were fighting over fuel to run all of these cars. We spent hours stuck in traffic, arriving late at work all the time. There were car accidents all the time because people were driving themselves everywhere. Even the metro looked completely different back then; it was very limited, congested and worn out. Out of nowhere, the government decided to pass a law making public transportation the only mode of transport. Everyone had to send their cars to the scrapyard. A lot of people lost their jobs. It took a long time for everyone to get adjusted. The public transportation systems were not ready to meet the demand. My dad used to drive me to school in a car that looked just like this.
Charlie: “Can I keep it?”
James hands it to Charlie. Charlie grabs it and runs up the stairs to his room.
Second Stop: 2080
Students enter the lecture hall, and once everyone is seated, a man standing in the front turns around and introduces himself as Professor Martin.
Professor Martin: “Welcome to History of Transportation Design. How many of you took the teleportation booth to class today?”
Most of the class raises their hand.
Professor Martin: “Well… Thirty years ago, we didn't have such advanced transportation systems. We used to take the Mintro and the Wheeltram. Does someone know what any of these were?”
Overachieving student: “Wasn’t the Mintro a system that connected one building to another?”
Professor Martin: “Yes, that is correct! The Mintro was a transportation system that consisted of a carriage that interconnected buildings. The Wheeltram was another type of system that ran on roads. To be honest, it was pretty funky looking. Back then, most people worked in transportation; it was a pretty large and complex city. Everyone in the world depended on public transportation. We needed people to maintain it, people to run it, people to it, and of course people to innovate it. So many people were working on inventing new vehicles, finding new energy sources, redesigning cities. There were a lot of new opportunities. All of these advances are what brought us to today, where you go into the booth and in a blink, you are somewhere else. So, for homework I want you to look back at all the vehicles in history. Find your favorite and write a 2 page paper on it. Remember to include a picture. See you next week.”
As all the students are exiting the lecture hall, one of them makes their way down the stairs. He approaches Professor Martin as he is putting his stuff away. The student notices that next to Professor Martin’s briefcase there was a clunky red metal box with four wheels at the bottom, he becomes curious, he had never seen something like that.
Not Overachieving Student: “Professor, what is that?”
Professor Martin picks up the red metal box, stares at it for a second, and smiles.
Professor Martin: “That is a story for another day.”
The Great Cooper
He is sitting at the bar, wearing a brown worn out leather jacket that fits a little too big. He is holding a shallow glass in his right hand, he takes a sip. He seems a little run down, probably didn’t have a great day. He stares at the TV screen that sits behind the bartender. A movie is playing.
She walks up to the bar, stands next to him, and orders a drink. She sees him staring at the screen. She looks at him, and asks: “you into old movies?” He turns his head slightly, he clearly wasn’t there to socialize, and he says: “No. I like cars.” He turns his head back to the screen. She gets her drink and goes back to her table.
He finishes his drink, orders another one. The movie is over, credits are rolling. He turns his back towards the bar. He sees the girl from before. She looks back at him and whispers something to her friend. They both grab their stuff and head for the door. As she is leaving, she walks towards him, places a hand on the bar and gets close to him. She whispers: “I hope I see you there.” She walks out.
He says to himself: “See me where?” He turns back to the bar and he sees a black card. He picks it up. It is black on both sides. He can feel that something is engraved on one of its sides, some kind of code. He uses his phone to scan it, something pops up. It is an invitation to something, it has a time and an address. He looks at his watch, it’s 9:47. The invitation says the event starts at 10:00. The address is only a couple of blocks away. He sits there for a second, thinking about whether he should go or not.
He stands up, walks out, it’s pouring outside. He zips up his jacket and starts walking. The streets are empty, only neon signs are seen above. He arrives. It looks like nothing more than an empty building. He knocks on a metal door. Nothing happens. He notices the doorbell cover is missing a screw he tries to move it and finds a scanner behind it. He places the card from the bar in front of the scanner. The door unlocks. He walks in. Still empty.
He finds a scanner inside, places the card again. A path lights up, he follows. He can hear music, people. It starts getting louder. He sees light coming from below. He gets to the edge of the platform. He sees her, she sees him. She gestures him to come down, he does. She gets close to him and says: “Welcome to The Prohibition Era, we all like cars here.” He looks around confused, there was so much happening. It looked like a party. Two cars are standing parallel to each other. The drivers walk to the cars. One of them lifts up his arms, everyone applauds. He turns around, his jacket reads “Cooper” on the back. She says: “That’s Cooper, his family used to own MINI. He started this club.” The drivers get in, engines roar, a flag is waved.
Is it 1984?
She hasn’t really gotten used to it. It feels something out of a book, like 1984, but she understands the benefit. With her condition, it wasn’t really much of a choice. As soon as it came out to the market, her parents had to buy one for her. Everyone had one of these, who wouldn’t want to have a smart biometric sensor that could alert 911 of an emergency before you even realized that you were having an emergency? It was small, it was soft, you could barely even feel it.
Parker was diagnosed with hemophilia when she was a child, so her parents pretty much kept her in a bubble. They were too afraid she would do something, hurt herself and bleed out. The patch changed that, she still wasn’t allowed to do anything extreme, but knowing the sensor would immediately send for help loosened them up a little bit. She had grown up to become a chef. Her parents were not happy about her being surrounded by sharp knives and fires, but it made her happy. Parker was pretty careful too, even though she had the patch. She hadn’t had an injury in years.
Today is her anniversary; she has a very special evening planned. She got a hold of his mom’s recipe for his favorite dish; chicken with mole. She had cleared up her schedule to start cooking pretty early in the morning, and she had asked his assistant to keep him away from home all day. She starts heating up a few pots and pans, she takes out her knives and the ingredients. As she is cutting some bread, she hears a loud noise from coming from the floor above, it startles her, the knife goes through. It was so fast that she didn’t feel a thing, but she looks down and she can see the blood oozing out. The patch starts to vibrate. She can feel herself get weaker and suddenly she is on the floor, dizzy. The patch reads: “Critical Status. High-Blood Loss. ALERT! Emergency team is on its way.”
She is lying on the ground, she can see outside her window. She sees a red blur fly by in the Tube. She knows that’s them. They are here to heal her. He walks into the apartment, he says something, but she’s too weak to pay attention. He sets his stuff next to her, scans the patch and opens up his bag. He pulls out a syringe and injects something into her leg. It’s nanobots. He pulls out his tablet and starts typing, taping, swiping. She can see her patch changing color, going from red, to yellow to green. She is starting to feel better. He puts everything away. Helps her stand up. He explains that the nanobots should dissolve on their own.
She finishes dinner. She sits down to wait for him. She stares at her patch. She still doesn’t know how she feels about this. He was here within seconds of her cutting herself. It wasn’t that she didn’t appreciate being healed, but she couldn’t help but feel like she was being watched all the time.
Porsche Dives Into Public Transportation
He was really nervous. He had gotten the job only a couple of months before it happened. He was really excited when he heard back from Porsche about the Lead Designer position. His mom used to drive the most beautiful Porsche when he was a kid, they both loved it. He had always wanted to design cars, but he never imaged he would end up working for Porsche.
He wasn’t excited to talk about all the bad news, but there was nothing else to talk about in today’s meeting. Since cars got banned, it was all bad news for any car company. Their factories were getting closed, their cars getting sent to the scrapyard, they were left with a lot of unsold cars, and of course, no new cars were getting sold. A lot of people lost their jobs and the few people left had to somehow come up with an idea of how to turn this around. The car business was no longer a thing, so they had to dive into the public transportation world. They were experts at designing vehicles and they were experts at innovating, so it wouldn’t be hard, but it wouldn’t be easy or fast either.
He had prepared a presentation. It had a lot of graphs in it; all of them were going down, some of them would even go into negative numbers. He kept clicking through it, over and over again. No one would be happy to hear any of this. He wished he had some better news. He thought maybe they were too focused on what they had lost and they weren’t looking at what they could win. What if he presented his giant wheel idea? He could add numbers, calculate the number of jobs they would be creating. Maybe they would decide to go forward with the project and they could actually do some good.
He started drawing out his idea, making calculations, making visuals. He put it all into the presentation. It looked completely different now. He still had all the original graphs and numbers, but he was now showing how that could be turned around. He was even more nervous now. He hadn’t really presented any ideas of his own since he started, he had mostly done research. He knew he wouldn’t get fired, but he was more scared of his idea getting mocked. He put on the brand new suit he had bought over the weekend. He fixes up his tie, he runs his fingers through his hair, and he puts on his glasses. He is ready. He puts all of his sketches inside his portfolio. He grabs his laptop and puts in in his bag. He steps out and heads for the Mintro. He goes over everything in his head while he waits for his stop. He gets off, walks into the building. He is ready.