Pushing shopping carts at the Conspiratopia Project was way better and different than pushing shopping carts at Walmart. That’s for sure! Never mind I was making like twenty cents more and hour, which ruled.
For one, like they were all electric and crap. But like, that was kinda the problem and stuff. Cause the electronics and stuff weren’t working right. So now they were just like ordinary dumb shopping carts. Except they were like extra heavy and awkward because of the self-driving stuff added underneath. And like, because they weren’t meant to be used that way and stuff, you couldn’t really stack them together inside each other, and push a bunch of them at the same time.
I was really good at it though, so like I figured out how you could sort of push two or three at least a little bit, depending where you were. I think it’s cause I’m like such a good gamer and stuff. And I like puzzles. So it was totally cool. In fact, the first few days I was so super into it that when they asked me at the shop if I wanted to turn on autopilot, I said no. Plus anyway it kinda gave me a chance to walk around and look at stuff, and learn where everything is in the mall on my own.
Well, not everything, cause not all areas were like rated for smart carts and stuff. But sometimes people took them outside designated zones, and um I had to use like this little handheld radar thingy to try to go figure out where the hell it was. It was really fun.
My dad and I were put on alternating shifts, so for a while I didn’t actually even see him all that much. Sometimes we got to eat dinner or breakfast or something together. A couple times our days off lined up, and we got shitfaced together on beers and weed and stuff, so that was really fun. Or me or him would have fallen asleep watching TV and would come in from a shift and wake the other one up. That was alright though, cause it would give us a chance to catch up for a few minutes.
After a while though – I don’t know how long it was, maybe a couple weeks or something – it started to get a little repetitive. I started letting them turn on autopilot and doing overwrite sessions at work. That was actually pretty cool though too. Cause like even though you could turn it on and watch a movie or something, you could also just like turn it on, but then watch. They called this “maintaining peripherals.” And like your body and stuff would just keep going, even if you didn’t do anything. It’s hard to explain really the feeling, what it was like. I mean it was like somebody else was running your body and what you saw or did was like a film. It was a little weird, but also like totally cool because it meant you could zone out really. Or like even take a nap if you turned off peripherals, or turned them down low enough. And that was really cool. Or you could like mix a film or game with peripherals anyway you wanted, as an overlay, or like in a little picture-in-picture window thing.
Sometimes I liked to mix games with where I was in the mall IRL. So like while my body was collecting smart carts, I could be like running around in a first-person shooter in that same place, and pretending to throw grenades and stuff at shoppers or whatever. Or I could be like a sniper hiding up somewhere, and I could watch my own body pass by pushing shopping carts and shoot myself. It was totally cool.
Once I got into that, I actually ended up joining some of the games that my dad and his friends did during overwriting, and that was really fun as hell. So I ended up seeing my dad actually more during games than IRL, especially cause sometimes I would go home from work and play games during my off hours, instead of sleeping.
They had some really sick games there, actually. Way better than the stuff you see commercially on the outside. Ten times more advanced graphics and game play and stuff. Apparently according to my contract, I’m not supposed to talk much more about it than that or something. My dad said it had to do with the AI’s that run the place. Because they were really good at making games and shit. He was totally right. That stuff was sweet as hell. It made me glad I moved there.
I actually stopped going on message boards and stuff, because there really weren’t any. Not any good ones anyway. The internet on the inside was not like the internet on the outside. Everything was focused around games and stuff for the people who lived and worked there. And it was really just one big platform run by the Project, and it was all pretty boring and stuff.
There were like some channels where people talked about conspiracy theories and whatnot still. Just for fun I liked to check them out. Sometimes a new group would form that tried to be anonymous and stuff, and they would come up with some crazy theory about how the AI administrators of the Project were like going insane and gonna kill everybody one of these days. But like nobody cared that much IRL, because IRL we were all pretty much doing virtual shit or game shit all the time that was much more interesting than a bunch of old farts sitting around and whining in chatrooms.
Plus like, you couldn’t really be actually anonymous there, which was a little weird at first, but then I got used to it. There were always like a bunch of cameras and sensors that were like watching or measuring or something. But it wasn’t really invasive. It was more like idk fun and even reassuring or something? Like I always felt totally safe. Like the AI’s always had my back.
I never got scared or anything when they turned on autopilot. I would get hella stoned before, and would just like ride the wave. You know? Surf that shit. I heard some people freaked out and stuff, and they had to like operate on them or send them away, because workers who couldn’t be overwritten were a drain on resources. And they hated that. They hated like waste and stuff, which I totally started to get into. I hate it now too. I’m into like efficiency and stuff, you know? Improving my percent scores. Shaving milliseconds off of completion of micro-tasks and stuff. It’s totally rad.
That’s why when they asked for volunteers for a like dangerous experimental job to improve efficiency, I volunteered like right away. If I successfully finished the job, I would end up earning a lot of credits and bonus multipliers and stuff that the algorithm would boost my rankings with, so I could finally become a citizen. It sounded like it was gonna be totally cool.