You’ve Had Your Chips
At first it seemed a marvellous idea. A microchip implant which meant you never had to carry (or lose) money, keys or ID ever again. What freedom! Especially for someone like Sarah who had a brain like a sieve and was forever forgetting things. Once she had even lost a flight through forgetting her passport!
Sarah was indeed the first in her neighbourhood to have the implant and extol the benefits of a smaller handbag to all her friends, neighbours and colleagues, though eventually it became mandatory, so she needn’t have worried.
Of course she felt a bit sorry for all the locksmiths, shopkeepers and others who lost out when keys and cash became a thing of the past, particularly the homeless. Though strangely the homeless soon started disappearing from the streets, so presumably they had solved the homelessness crisis. Either way, it was nice to see clean streets again and not get accosted every time she went out.
The council grew satisfyingly efficient. They always remembered to start the birdsong tape at six every morning to brighten everyone's day. So much better than the old days of slippery bird poo and scavenged binbags everywhere. They also lined the streets with attractive no maintenance plastic trees which never shed any leaves or caused any root damage and each remained green all year round possessing a discreet solar panel at the top to power the driverless vehicle plugged in at pavement level.
Years went by and things became more and more expensive with transaction charges added to every electronic purchase but Sarah didn’t worry too much. They had to pay for all this new technology after all. And it was so convenient. She just went out less in the evening and had fewer holidays. Anyway you could get some lovely second hand clothes these days. She had never realised before.
Then one day Sarah went into work and it was announced there would be a special departmental meeting at 11am. Sarah wondered what it could be about. She soon found out. Her department was being closed and they were all being made redundant. Those closer to retirement age weren’t so upset and immediately started planning all the holidays they were going to have, much to the irritation of younger staff like Sarah.
From that day forward Sarah went into overdrive applying for new jobs. She had never been unemployed in her life before and wasn’t about to start claiming benefits now. No money wasting holidays for her. However many of the jobs she was qualified for in banking no longer existed. The electronic technology was rendering them useless, hence the closure of her department.
Eventually six months and many interviews later Sarah landed a job in a bank of a different kind, a DNA bank where she became a risk calculator for insurance companies. It was better paid and Sarah reveled in her tenth floor glass office – the first office she’d ever had all to herself.
To celebrate Sarah decided to throw a party inviting all her former colleagues. Only seven turned up out of the thirty people Sarah had worked with. Out of those thirty it turned out that fourteen had died. Sarah was shocked. She had been so absorbed in looking for a new job, she had only kept in touch with one colleague who was equally determined to find another job, Lisa, who had eventually taken a pay cut to work in an Estate Agents. Jeff the relationship manager had been killed in a car crash but the others it seemed, had all died of heart conditions, even Paul and Jason, who had only been in their forties, one while running a marathon.
‘I can hardly believe it.’ Said Lisa.
‘I know.’ Said David.
‘We must be jinxed! Maybe we should all go for heart tests.’
‘That’s not a bad idea.’ Stuart chipped in. ‘I saw Jason’s widow the other day. She said just before he collapsed that he had a tingling pain in his right arm.’
‘I thought heart attacks affected the left’ said David.
‘So did I’ said Sarah. ‘And I’ve had to learn a bit about medical conditions for my new job.’
‘She said much as she misses him, the insurance has come in handy as he was about to run out of money after their cruise.’ added Stuart.
‘Nice’ said David. ‘I hope my wife doesn’t say the same about me if I conk out. We’re also about to run out of money if I don’t get that departmental job I’ve just gone for. ‘
‘Well as long as you haven’t got a tingling pain in your right arm, you should be alright.’ joked Stuart.
David blanched. ‘Funny you should say that.’ He said. ‘Here. Pass me that fish knife.’
‘Why. What are you going to do with it?’ asked Stuart.
‘Something I suspect we may all need to do.’ replied David.
They watched as he rolled up his shirt sleeve, tied a napkin tourniquet around his arm and used the tip of the fish knife to extract the microchip.
©LS King 2020