New Year. New You.
Make a New Years resolution?
Tina blinked the flashing message away from her visual field, though it remained as a little blinking icon in the corner of her vision. It pulsed through cheerful tones of yellow and purple and teal, reminding her of the inevitable impending changeover. Around her, her cubicle-mates stared blearily into space, focussed on their own visu-screens with varying degrees of attention. Sometimes someone smiled. She wondered what they had to smile about.
Help requested: Vid-o SX6900; Ticket eL238654
Tina shuddered as she read the message, but of course she couldn’t refuse it. Not only was it automatically assigned, but her rent needed paying. Six months. And the elec-hydro company had sent her another message this morning, which she had pretended not to read. Key phrases had jumped out at her anyway. They were getting less polite.
And so Tina spent an hour and a half talking someone through the correct set-up and operation of Nu Lyfe’s SX6900 top-of-the-range sex doll. It cut into her lunch break, and she barely had three and a half minutes to slurp her auto-dispensed veggie noodle soup (last year’s resolution still in force right up until the changeover, of course) before the system took the bowl away and flooded her with a deluge of banality once more. The soup tasted like watered down cardboard, as usual.
Make a New Year’s resolution?
Her cubicle walls were plastered with ads for useless, meaningless items which they fervently attempted to convince her were essential to her happiness. If only she would purchase a Sys-Tems Carpet Steamer, the vibrant neon assured her, her life would improve immeasurably. Her smile would be radiant in the same way as the perfectly manicured actress’ gleaming choppers, if only Tina took advantage of this one-time-only opportunity.
Her roster popped up in her peripheral. A cheery festive version of the Nu Lyfe logo sparkled at the top, not yet changed from the winter holidays, and her hours blinked at her. Another last-minute night shift. The grit of twelve hours staring at screens made every blink painful, but she did need the money. Hadn’t that been her resolution, the year before last? Or even three years ago? She couldn’t remember.
Nodding her acceptance of the change as if she had any choice in the matter, Tina tried to focus on her visu-screen. The pulsing colour of the minimised resolution pop-up was making her feel nauseous. The soup probably wouldn’t taste any better coming up than it had going down.
Make a New Year’s resolution?
Tina jerked awake, her head pounding. Stress, dehydration, hunger... she didn’t know what had brought the headache on. The nap had an obvious cause; sleep was a distant memory at this point. Styluses clattered as she dug through her drawers for some painkillers, but her fingers met only synth-papers, pens and dust-bunnies. Two desks over, Victor was frowning at his screen. He’d probably had to deal with an SX6900 request too, or something else equally annoying. She could see his mouth moving, but the sound of his voice was blocked by Nu Lyfe’s patented O-Clu barriers that hung between cubicles.
She croaked a request for an immediate dispensation of a painkiller; so much easier than going down the road to the pharmacy and with the added bonus of not eating into her paltry break time allocation, and the price flashed up in her visual field. Ten bucks for a pill. Dammit.
Dismissing the request with a grimace, Tina gritted her teeth and focussed on her screen. Jobs danced and swam before her eyes, but the computer had clearly detected her frazzled demeanour and was routing text-only enquiries to her. Small mercies, even if it meant a smaller pay cheque. She would take what she could get. At least she wouldn’t need to talk to anyone, although she had some concerns about the coherence of her replies. They made sense to her, but her head felt full of burning cotton wool.
Make a New Year’s resolution.
The clock at the bottom of her visu-screen ticked ever closer to midnight. The last day of the year was nearly over, and she was seeing it off in an office that smelled of stale chips and someone’s tuna sandwich. Again.
Half-delirious from lack of sleep, Tina wondered giddily what would happen if she didn’t make a New Year’s resolution. It seemed a hilarious idea to her sleep-fuddled brain, and she nearly laughed out loud. But of course, it was silly. Everyone made New Year’s resolutions. But what should hers be? It should be something grand, something big and impressive. Something she could brag about to her friends... if she had them. Maybe something that would give her more time off work to make some friends. Although bills still needed to be paid...
Tina slumped at her desk.
She needed to come up with a resolution soon; if she didn’t then last year’s one would probably carry on and she didn’t think she could stand another year of cardboard soup and salad. It hadn’t even worked, anyway.
Make a New Year’s resolution.
“My New Year’s resolution is to be happier.”
The words echoed through the nearly empty office space, bouncing off cubicle walls and the back of Victor’s bald, shiny head. They seemed wrong here, in this place. Noise wasn’t welcome unless it was to do with a job call, and of course happiness... Hah. The very walls seemed to suck joy from the world. But that was her resolution, this year. To be happier.
The dispensary at her desk rattled as the clock ticked over to midnight and Tina pulled out two little pills. She sighed with relief at the sight of the capsules; maybe someone had sent her a free painkiller. Or perhaps she had clicked the ‘buy’ button instead of ‘cancel’. Whatever; her head was killing her.
Tina dry-swallowed the capsules, and almost immediately the pounding in her head retreated. Bliss unfurled in her mind, a soothing sensation. Everything would work out, eventually. She just needed to keep working hard and it would all get better. She turned back to her work, feeling like a new person. A better person.
Two desks over, Victor scowled as he hung up his latest call. SX6900’s were the worst, and they always seemed to end up with people who wouldn’t know an instruction manual if you gave them a concussion with it. He glanced across the mostly empty cubicles and wondered what Tina had to smile about. With that expression, she hadn’t had to deal with an SX6900 set-up request today, that was for sure.