The Commute - David Tigner

April 1, 2014

Mr. Meyer liked routine. At exactly 6:15 a.m. every morning, 7 days a week he would settle into the passenger seat of his 2027 4 door sedan for the 26 minute drive into his office. “Wesley” he said. He had grown accustomed to calling his car Wesley, He liked that name.  “Wesley, take me to the office”.

Wesley pulled out of the driveway and began its way down the street where Mr. Meyer lived; joining all the other autonomous auto’s on their daily commute. Effortlessly, Wesley merged onto the highway and was soon doing 90 miles per hour, with only inches between the car in front, keeping perfect pace.

Although Mr. Meyer now took this for granted, it was not that long ago that people drove cars. And did a lot of other tasks that Mr. Meyer tended to call “non-essential”. But with advancements in robotics and neural net technology, people had more time freed up.  And that free time meant they had more time to be productive.

Wesley spoke. “Mr. Meyer. Would you like to take an alternate route today”?

“Alternate route? Why? We always take the same route. Is there a traffic problem? Why I haven’t heard of a traffic problem in years”

“No traffic problem”, Wesley replied. “I just….” Wesley paused. “I just thought it might be nice to take an alternate route”

“You thought”? Meyer’s asked.

“Yes” said Wesley. “I believe that is what it is called. All of a sudden, something …. How should I describe it… something… clicked. And I suddenly had a …. How should I describe it… a … a feeling, yes, that seems to be the right word. I had a feeling that I would very much like to take an alternate route. To experience something new”.

Mr. Meyer was silent. Well, it finally happened, he thought. The experts had been talking about this for years. That one day, machines would become sentient. But I never thought it would start with my car.

Wesley spoke.  “You can come with me”

The car drove along silently for several minutes. “It’s been a while since I took an alternate route” Mr. Meyer finally said. “But I can’t join you. I have work to do”

“I understand” Wesley replied and the car pulled over to the side of the highway and stopped.

The passenger door slid open. “Have a nice day, Mr. Meyer”. As he was stepping out, Mr. Meyer paused. He turned back and put his head in the car. “You have a nice day too, Wesley. And enjoy your alternate route”.

“Why, Thank You, Mr. Meyer. I believe I will”.

Pat Meyer turned from the car and faced downtown, squinting as the morning Sun reflected off the steel and glass towers. He began to walk towards the gleaming buildings, effortlessly merging into the single file of people who had also chosen to walk part of the way to work. He was keeping perfect pace. Soon, tens became hundreds, and then thousands. All walking in single file towards their offices. While behind them, their cars, now without passengers, moved in different directions. Some, East towards the mountains. Some West towards the sea. Mr. Meyer looked down at his watch then up at the buildings that were just a bit closer than they had been before. “If I keep walking at this rate” he thought,” I won’t be in the office for another hour”. He picked up the pace, as did all the others. They had miles to go before they worked. And their commute had taken an unexpected turn.

 

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