The unfortunately named Bongo Jones brushes his teeth with his laser toothbrush, a clever little invention that replaces the archaic bristles of a regular toothbrush with a precisely aimed light beam that vaporises any molecules of dirt on the tooth. Such wonders of the technological society in which Bongo lives would never have been allowed by his parents, who were, as he described them, “a pair of out-of-touch clueless hippies.” The most obvious evidence for this was that he was named after the instrument that had fractured his father’s spine during Bongo’s drug-fueled conception. Any more details are best left unsaid.
After brushing his teeth, Bongo heads downstairs, and drinks a glass of orange juice, and smiles because, until recently, this was not a viable order for a morning routine. Bongo’s morning routine is, to put it simply, uneventful.
As is his daily life.
And his evenings.
And his nights.
This is no bad thing, he believes. In the modern era, uneventful is the new ideal. As a child, Bongo was rushed around to forests and festivals and carnivals and all sorts of other things he doesn’t miss. Uneventful is easy. Easy is all anybody wants. Bongo firmly holds the belief that events, anomalies and any other sort of unwelcome inconsistencies should stay where they belong – in sitcoms.
Today, the daily realisation that he needs to hurry up and get ready for work reaches Bongo at around 8:13. He quickly scrolls through his Friendface (with UltraPlusV4.6, of course). Nothing interesting, except that the far less unfortunately named than he Claudia Elling is single again. Bongo makes a mental note to say something vaguely comforting to her today. He then checks the news. As always, the headlines are basically “bad shit is happening, but it’s happening far from here, so don’t worry and keep buying our products”, but a little more subtle. He sighs, turns off the holoscreen, and tries to remember where he put his shoes.
Bongo eventually finds his shoes, puts them on, and walks out of the apartment. His apartment is on the 86th floor of the upper-middle-class segment of a Residential Megacomplex in South-West London. He takes the elevator to the top. Fortunately, it is empty. Housing is assigned based on career, so his building has a direct hoverpod link to his office.
On the roof-level, noticing that John Dickens is also heading to the same pod, Bongo quickly puts his earphones on before John sees him. The Motivo Corporation’s official playlist of the day is full of the latest big genres like speedpop, fuzzwave, and abstract electrojazz. The Motivo Corporation, where he works, is a business dedicated to developing methods of motivation to help office and retail industries keep their workers focused on the job – no easy task in a country where average effective attention span times are ranked 4th lowest in the western world. Other corporations will pay big money for the latest fad method, which of course is specifically designed for temporary effectiveness so Motivo can sell them some other bullshit at a later date. Half the time a placebo motivational energy pill is all they need.
Sometimes Bongo hates his job, and who is there to motivate the motivational team? But most of the time, as with most citizens about most things, Bongo is indifferent towards his job. It is simply what he does. It is a routine. Besides, if he gets too bored, his smartwatch can always access Friendface.
Upon reaching the pod, Bongo’s greeting of choice for John is a minimalist nod and split second of eye contact before looking down and sitting in silence for the rest of the 13-minute journey. John grins widely at him. The smile Bongo tries to return is narrow and awkward.
“Did you see on Friendface that Claudia is single now?” says John. “I know who I’m asking to join me for a drink tonight.”
Bongo makes an uninterested “mhmm” sound and continues not looking at John.
Undeterred John continues, “She’s a real hot one she is. Great tits.”
Normally Bongo is content to ignore John’s creepy comments about women, but Claudia is sort of a friend.
“Don’t be a scrotum, John. It happened last night; I doubt she wants to see another guy yet.”
The conversation continues for a short while, with John making comments about Claudia, and Bongo hopelessly trying to convince him that women are in fact people with feelings. Hoverpod rides with John were one of the times Bongo hated his job, but thankfully he works in a different office and can be avoided all day.
The office is a wide open space with desks that appear to be arranged at random but are (allegedly) “precision-placed to maximise eye-to-eye visibility between colleagues.” This was one of their schemes they sold to other businesses, where men in yellow coats with tape measures would analyse the room and use a computer algorithm to obtain the most optimal layout. The boss of Motivo, whether he believed the benefits or not, had decided it was good for the company’s name to practice what they preach.
Bongo sits down at his desk and loads up his cubelet – much like a tablet but with an extra dimension. A highly detailed 3D display is perhaps unnecessary when his job mostly consists of sending regular 2D emails, but no self-respecting company would be seen without the most cutting edge equipment. He moves his hand in a motion that the cubelet recognises as a coffee order. The office’s virtual butler promptly delivers him a cup from the machine. The coffee tastes kind of bad, but is “scientifically personalised” to contain the exact right amount of caffeine for the individual in question. It is also delivered at the right temperature to drink straight away, and Bongo does so rapidly. He then throws the cup into the eco-smart bin and downloads his daily task list.
First of all, he has to compose an apology letter to a business whose employees all contracted malaria from a batch Positude Pills. Not too hard, he thinks, the Motivo reference-archive contains dozens upon dozens of pre-composed emails that can be easily edited. This particular incident was actually part of a secret deal with MalariAway, who wanted to get in with the business in question. It profits them the most to never actually really get rid of malaria completely – to make sure they are needed. Thirty-five minutes later, the letter has been approved and e-signed by the Motivo boss and sent away.
At 11:00am, Claudia arrives. She and Bongo have been working together on a promotional video for Joyflakes, the new “delicious, positivity-enhancing, and healthy breakfast cereal from Motivo!” Video editing with Claudia is one of the few parts of his job that pushes Bongo away from neutrality and into enjoyment. The video is the usual trashy output of the advertising world. There is no substance to it, no reason why it should make anyone buy the product – but it’s been proven to work over and over. Bongo never quite liked it.
“Maybe you’re just overestimating the intelligence of the general public,” suggests Claudia. “Or maybe they aren’t stupid, but just don’t care. Either way, this bullshit gets our bullshit sold.”
Bongo sighs, “Yeah, I guess you’re right. Shall we have “Start your day with a taste of joy” before or after the stupid faked laughter scene?”
“I’d put it after – it needs the context. It’s the visual representation of joy – a family of extremely photogenic rich white people with flawless makeup eating breakfast in a kitchen more spacious than anyone who would actually buy this product could dream of, while being illogically united in happiness about a shitty breakfast cereal. And then BAM! Dumb slogan! Works every time”
This sarcastic banter is the general atmosphere whenever Bongo and Claudia collaborate on a project. The time passes surprisingly fast, and it is not long before the pair has added the last vague statistic over the last clip of a child laughing over spilt cereals. They realise it has been a few hours and decide to head down to the cafeteria for a late lunch.
The day’s special is the two-thirds inaccurately named “Incredible Rice Surprise”. Both Bongo and Claudia opt to have this as the cafeteria has run out of the “Spiced Potato Wedge Extravaganza” they would usually prefer. This is the disadvantage of going for lunch at 2:30. The advantage is that John Dickens has been and gone – an especially big advantage today as he would have tried to hit on Claudia. Remembering this Bongo asks Claudia if everything is alright in regards to the “..y’know.. relationship status..”
Claudia says she is fine and, to Bongo’s relief, won’t talk about it anymore. He doesn’t want to get bogged down in other people’s problems – even when those people are his friends. Not being involved keeps responsibility and pressure away. It keeps things uneventful, which is all Bongo wants. Caring too much about people’s problems leads to caring too much about the world’s problems, and look what that did to his parents. Sure, Bongo agrees with most of what they said about society, but there’s surely some sort of line between caring and actually doing something about it. It was best, he had decided upon leaving home at 17, to just not think about the problems and accept that this is how the world is and that it won’t change for anyone.
Back in the office after the meal, it only takes a few minutes for them to iron out the last few kinks in the audio for the Joyflakes video and send it for approval. With that done, they are back to their separate work. Bongo is slightly disappointed that his time hanging out with her is over.
The last two hours of the day are spent writing emails to various companies about products and deals. The minutes crawl by slowly, but Bongo is helped through them by another coffee and several visits to Friendface on his smartwatch.
With the day’s task list complete, Bongo says goodbye to Claudia and the other office workers. He takes the lift to the roof. Mercifully John has not yet arrived, so Bongo has a hoverpod to himself. Making the most of this, Bongo puts the Motivo playlist back on, this time through the hoverpod’s speaker system. He leans back in his seat and waits for the journey to be completed.
For dinner, Bongo eats a Nutrimax Quickmeal of macaroni cheese and garlic bread. It satisfies him far more than the crappy cafeteria rice did. Nutrimax were considered one of the innovators of subscription-based convenience food, achieving top of the charts for health and taste. Best of all, their packaging is fully recyclable and the subscription comes with the installation of a smartbin that sorts it all out for you. Long gone are the days of trudging round a supermarket or standing washing dishes.
When he has finished eating, Bongo plays a few rounds of “War Simulator 5: Laser Deathsquads in Post-Democratic America”, the most popular hyper-realistic and historically-accurate virtual reality war game around. He doesn’t suck at it, but he never gets on the leaderboard. The appeal runs out after being annihilated by veteran players or hackers a couple of times, so instead he experiences an episode of “Modern Rockers” – a sitcom about a band from the 2020’s who were accidentally teleported to the present day and their attempts to get a record deal despite their music being horribly outdated. The word “experience” is necessary here, as sitcoms where you merely watch are always low in the ratings these days. Successful integration of virtual reality, variable plotline technology and super-interactivity are essential for a show to succeed.
By 10pm, the sitcom has grown tiresome. He flicks through channels for a while and ends up settling for a documentary about families struggling with food prices. It makes him angry that it fails to explain how poverty is an inevitability of capitalism. He thinks briefly that we should use the Swedish system but then realises he’s sounding too much like his parents and thinking too hard about things beyond his control, so instead he watches University Challenge. In this show students from various universities complete various physical skill and endurance trials while answering questions to pass through gates to the next section. Bongo tries to play along but his general knowledge is limited.
Bored of the evening’s entertainment he gets ready for bed. When he gets into his bed, inbuilt systems run a check on the room and calculate the appropriate temperature and quilt density for optimal rest.
After an hour of tossing and turning, Bongo is asleep, ready to repeat the dull routine tomorrow.