I was tempted by the coffee stand, but as I got closer I could see the counter was covered with a light dusting of sugar and chocolate sprinkles, glued on to the silver surface by dried milk. I passed on that especially since I couldn’t see any take away cups…read more
I don’t really feel comfortable but I get that I have to go in.
I can see the welcome-bot and someone has stuck a pen in her mouth, vertically, so she’s stopped working. She can no longer open and close her mouth. I used to worry about this casual violence against female bots but is doesn’t bother me so much anymore. She is whirring rather than humming-there’s a difference. I am tempted to go and retrieve the pen but I can see that her left hand is burning red so she might be about to catch fire and I don’t want to be near that. At the very least that hand is going to explode.
I look around me. I just want a shirt. I would have ordered it online and had it delivered but we are having drone problems. We now have one of those signs at the start of our street, ‘Drone thieves operate in this area’. In fact drone thieves don’t, just one does and I think we all know who it is. The kid at the end of the street who just finished school. In his defence, there aren’t many jobs unless you are well connected and I am guessing he’s not. I’d like to help but I have nieces and nephews who will need that help soon. It’s a bit selfish- and the price me and the rest of the street pay is the ‘interception’ of our drone deliveries for resale elsewhere. I don’t mind really, he lets the groceries through. Actually its more the sign than anything that annoys me. It devalues my house. Its not like some places where there are gangs just dedicated to either bringing down, stealing from or otherwise attacking drones. It’s just him and he doesn’t damage the drone from what I can tell.
Seriously what were they thinking with the idea of unmanned deliveries. How easy is it to take out a drone and nick the stuff or simply turn up at the door and take it as soon as it’s delivered. There’s a whole network on the east side dedicated to tracking drones and as soon as one drone delivers it, another is picking it up and taking it somewhere else. Even I no longer know if what I am buying is stolen goods. I don’t particularly care anymore either. Anyway I really need a shirt, he has intercepted the past three I have ordered and his price is a little more than I am prepared to pay- which is why I am here at the ‘mall’. There are only a handful of people here. The place hasn’t been cleaned this week. You can tell. I can smell the toilets as I walk past and outside of them is a broken sanitation-bot. I guess no one has reported it.
I was tempted by the coffee stand, but as I got closer I could see the counter was covered with a light dusting of sugar and chocolate sprinkles, glued on to the silver surface by dried milk. I passed on that especially since I couldn’t see any take away cups.
I just want a shirt and that is what I am doing here- in a shop. Something I haven’t done in a while. I move further into the shop. I can hear voices so there are other humans here. I see them in the distance, talking to the checkout-bot. They are swearing at her. There ‘s an urban myth that checkout-bots are learning all the time and that if you swear at them enough they will start to swear at customers. It is a myth. For one thing there are no customers anymore, but also I have programmed some of those bots. It doesn’t work. They don’t learn new words at all. It’s a group of boys, by that I mean 3. Boys aren’t allowed to congregate in groups of more than 3, well not just boys. Generally no one is allowed to physically congregate in groups of more than three without a permit but boys get fewer permits than girls or mixed groups. It’s unfair, draconian but it’s the law. It keeps the peace. What else do they have to do on a Saturday? Or any other day of the week. I suspect they have either been suspended or kicked off social media and what are they meant to do for fun. I think they have clocked my presence. The security-bot certainly has and trundles towards them as if they are causing me trouble. They are not but then its likely I am the only shopper here for a week.
There are 3 of them and security-bot. It’s no contest. The bot starts to speak. He just isn’t built for the task. They up end the bot and it’s little wheels are just whirring in the air and it is protesting and they are laughing. I know I could get them into trouble but the far more serious mall security-bots are likely to leave the boys with serious injuries. I don’t want that. I know the security-bot doesn’t have feelings but what they have done is just mean. But what else do they have in life? No job. No prospects. They will probably still be doing this when they are 30. I grab a shirt, any shirt. I don’t really care. It’s my size, I pick one from the bottom of the pile. There are so many clothes and no one here. Most of the clothes have been here a while. I check for moth holes. The whole place smells a bit musty.
I look at the boys, I have to go to the checkout-bot to pay. They look at me. I look at the security-bot. They are just boys which is no excuse for their behaviour but also no reason for fear. I have money and money is power. I have a device and a device is power and whatever power it is that boys once had it is long since gone from this planet. They look sheepish. I smile and walk towards them. I scan the item across the checkout-bots scanner plate and then tap my device to pay.
I upend the security-bot again and then tell it the boys are with me. I even lie and say I have a permit for us all to be together in the same shop. I think the boys are impressed. It won’t hassle them now and they can try and get the checkout-bot to swear all they want for the afternoon. They have probably never had the chance to talk to a real girl of their own age. They possible never will. Like the rest of us, they will commission a bot to their taste and that will be that.
The checkout-bot tells me to ‘Have a nice day’. I will. They go back to swearing at her, trying to get her to swear back. I leave happy with my shirt and thinking that next time I might buy my own shirt back from the boy down the road.