Skip to main content

Market Share, Part I

The street teemed. Shit, thought Billy. You have to suck in your gut to turn around. He had a job interview at 2:30, six blocks from here. Billy blinked twice and accessed the ticker running across the top of his NonUV. An ad for Negrad suncreens played across the ticker, and he blinked in annoyance. Do they really think I'm interested in Negrads?, he wondered. That's like seeing an ad for Pepsi on a Coke can.
1:52. No, 1:53. No way in hell would he make it, not through this crowd. They actually seemed to be pressing him back a step for every two steps he took.
A little frantic, Billy looked left, then right. No chink in the wall of humanity surrounding him. Damn it all, he thought. I should have done this over the Net, like everyone else. Still could, I suppose...there's an alcove over there that might serve. But if I teleview, I probably won't get the job.
Billy Madison was one of those rare curmudgeonly types who still believed in face-to-face contact...especially with people who had the power to jump his remuneration rating up seven or eight levels overnight. He had an old-time thing people once called "charisma", but it only worked in Slo. His many online avatars said all the right things, but they lacked a certain...persuasiveness. So he'd taken an envirocab down to the Nexus, the closest term to the Mercanix building, figuring he'd walk the rest of the way. He could use the exercise.
I could use a little more time, he thought.
He blinked twice. 1:59.
"NEED MORE TIME?" came a voice in his right ear. It was accompanied by the image of clock hands whirring around and around. They morphed into a pill, and the word PEECE appeared above it. "TRY A LITTLE PEECE. CALM THOSE THOUGHTS! MELLOW OUT!"
Billy rubbed his eyes. Damned if he'd ever get used to this neuromarketing.
There was one thing guaranteed to chill him out, and it wasn't a pot pill. He touched his left ear and imagined the lake where his grandpa's place used to be. A bell chimed softly and his Mercanix MusicMuse activated. Secret Garden, he thought.
A song called Serenade To Spring began, and Billy felt better almost instantly. So it was--he blinked twice--2:07. So what? Three blocks to go. He'd make it.
It was a great idea to get this MusicMuse, he thought. The scanner would check out his wares and note a Mercanix product. Prudent. You couldn't expect to be hired to market Mercanix ware if you were adorned with General Systems ware yourself. Of course, he thought, G.S. was functionally superior, but all the same--
A bolt of pain shot through his head. It felt for all the world like he'd been clubbed. He staggered and put a hand to the back of his neck.
Sorry, he thought. Rogue neuron firing there...what was I thinking? Only Mercanix made you feel whole. That was the slogan, after all. Mercanix: Feel Whole.
The pain abated.
Billy had forgotten about the propshere, which went live three weeks ago. Within five square blocks of Mercanix, neuroreceivers analyzed incredibly subtle fluctuations in the energy matrix, in effect reading the mind of every passerby. Negative thoughts activated a neurotransmitter that in turn activated pain receptors deep in your brain. If you imagined something like bombing the Mercanix building, the news said, you'd feel as if you were being ripped apart. Imagining Mercanix products, how useful they were and how they made you "Feel Whole", would generate a sense of well-being that would wash over you like a tide. They had set the positive reinforcement too high on their first trial and the president of Mercanix, J. Paul Gatlin, had ejaculated in his pants on live Netfeed.
General Systems was said to be frantically trying to develop a propsphere of their own. Billy had a mental picture of competing propspheres forcing people's thoughts to turn first one way, than another. What the hell do they need me for, he thought. Their marketing is perfect.

Mercanix headquarters towered over him. His ticker said 2:28. Okay, he thought. 92nd floor. Let's do this thing.

To be continued...


Popular posts from this blog


The question is, how do we respond?

Today's sermon at Grand River Unitarian was both the most overtly Christian and the most overtly political I've yet attended.

It's worth noting that the Christianity was still muted, and was the inevitable byproduct of the guest speaker (the Lutheran chaplain of the House of Friendship), and the politics was the inevitable byproduct of the topic (poverty and homelessness).

I'm still glad I went, because once again today's service cleared up something religious that has bothered me for a long time.

Lutherans believe you are 'saved' -- a concept I have enough trouble with --- by God's grace alone, through faith alone. That's always suggested to me that there's nothing you have to do except believe. And if that doesn't work out for you, well, you're not believing hard enough. QED.

The speaker explained that Lutherans believe everything in your life is a God-given gift, and "so  the question is, how d…

Three Wheelin'

I have written a few times on the single thing that has defined and limited my life more than anything else--my lack of a driver's license.

You people who have them probably take them somewhat for granted. The lack of one tends to manifest in many ways, none of them pleasant and some of them very much unexpected.
Of course, there's the first order consequence: you must rely on others for your transportation. This has several corollaries. Taxis are insanely expensive, but other than inconveniencing a friend or relative, there's no other feasible way to do something as mundane as, say, grocery shopping.  Seeing friends who live across town is doable, but if they live an hour by car away, you're beholden to Greyhound or Via's schedule. (You'd better hope they live in a city big enough to merit a bus/train station).   There is no feeling quite so helpless as when a friend or loved one gets sick or injured in your presence and you can't drive her to the hospital…

Modular Madness

I just got off a week of nights.

It hasn't been all that long, really, since I worked solid graveyard shift. I was promoted to Meat Department Manager at the beginning of September; went to Seasonal and Pets at the beginning of December, and than one day in mid-January I got invited into the manager's office and told "all my dreams are coming true".
What they meant by that was a transfer to dairy and frozen. Which, as longtime readers will know, is what I've been doing since 2001.

This was not a dream come true for me, much less all of them. Don't get me wrong: I like the position. But it's technically a demotion: just as they are in other chains, dairy and frozen here are a subset of grocery. They're called departments but aren't, really.

I've never understood this. Studies show that most visitors to a grocery store will buy something from dairy and/or frozen, and Walmart is just like a grocery store in that regard. I move a lot of product.

Going Moldy....

Show more