Time Travellers from the 1960's : Ch.6 : Joining the Modern Society
Chapter 6 : Joining the Modern Society : (Returning To Work)
Ted was an electrical engineer back 'home', in the late sixties and early seventies. This should prove useful in this new future world, where technology was so important. They had always expected they would have to work and become a part of the new times. The 'holiday' could not go on forever. He was an intelligent and practical man, but also had a strong interest in most things. He liked literature and music. He had usually read the latest books, modern and up to date, at breakneck speed while on holidays, and he liked to keep up with the latest sounds. He played guitar too, not expertly, but he could knock out some rock'n'roll and play a passable lead blues line. That was his trouble sometimes. He wanted so much to be good at everything, or to have a go at so many things. There was never time for all these hobbies and interests. That was why he hoped and had dared to expect that the future would bring him freedoms and time to become the renaissance man which was his true self.
Ted had worked on some early mainframe computers, and so viewed the computerised society he found in the early 2000’s with great interest and excitement. The only drawback was he had some learning to do to see how they worked, and to get up to speed in how computer users were using them in this period. He had envisaged the greater use of computers for many things in the future, not the least being robots. But he had never in his wildest dreams imagined that school kids, ordinary office workers, and just about everybody, would be using them for work, entertainment, leisure and pleasure of so many kinds. Office workers not only used them for calculations and record keeping, but they used them instead of telephones to contact each other. The E mail replaced post for many people. It was faster, more instant. The internet used phone lines but it could transport pictures, images, moving pictures, information and data of all kinds. The storage of 'memory' on the modern computer PCs was incredible, dwarfing even the massive mainframes of the early seventies in a way he had never expected in those days. Not only did office workers use them, but tiny little pre-teen kids, teenagers and their grandparents.
Ted got a job as a troubleshooter, helping to fix ordinary computers when they broke down. His curiosity brought him most of the knowledge he needed. He went on a couple of courses for those who wanted to learn the basics of using computers - for accounting, word processing, E mailing, pictures and graphics. Because he was interested he soon learned. He applied his electrical knowledge and his partial knowledge of early programming until he felt he was quite strong. He was never short of work. He worked for the computer sales department of a major computer producer, and he often did work on the side, privately, when it offered to pay well.
He went into offices and workplaces as part of a team, becoming quite close to his companions.
Louise was quickly disappointed by many of the revelations she discovered about this new future. The commercial basis of the Future Investments organisation, the promised sexuality of the media, which fell far short of the reality; the false image of a leisured and highly cultured modern civilisation when most of it was hot air and hype, and most people led unimaginative and shallow lives pretending to a culture which was, in her opinion very much on the decline. The music was not as good. Female fashions were admittedly sensuous, but males wore a very straightjacketed limited range of clothing and hairstyles. Apparently book sales were still good, but many young people did not seem to read at all, particularly males, and adults were too busy working to read much.
Many people were communicating on the worldwide computer system called the internet, which brought social opportunities, but tended also to create superficial and unreal relationships, if they could be called that. She was not at all convinced that the quality of people’s lives was at all improved by the superficial exchanges they had on their computers. Although Ted liked and came to understand the internet, Louise struggled to find any interest in it, preferring her more straightforward older ways of existence.
What reading was done was for escapism and page turning involvement, and not for real thinking. She was partly apalled by the huge readership for crime novels and who-dunnits, and by the viewers who watched the many such programmes incessantly on TV. It was not that she did not appreciate the skills of the writers or the passions of the viewers; it was just that the imaginations of both seemed to be so limited if they were churning out so much of the same kind of formulaic material. What did most of it really have to say. It was mostly enjoyable rehash, but not groundbreaking. It didn’t interest her much anyway.
After a couple of weeks of TV watching and tours into their city with Belinda or Carole for guidance, they were asked to meet the Managing Director of Future Investments. Max Farbright, a vigorous intelligent and youthful man, still in his thirties, who was not so much older than Ted and Louise themselves. Louise had seen him at a distance around the Seminary, or Headquarters as the modern staff referred to it, and she had wondered if they would ever be introduced.
They sat in the office waiting room at the appointed time, looking at a jumble of shapes and colours on a tidy picture frame, modern art which suggested nothing at all of any interest to either of them.
The door opened and Director appeared. “Why don’t you both come in, Ted and Louise. I see you both made it safely over time! How nice to meet you at last.”
“We’re pleased to meet you, at last,” said Louise, truthfully.
“Please sit down,” said the Director, moving towards the business in hand. “Now you know you can’t stay here at headquarters for too long. We have limited space and there will be other travellers due to be awoken soon. Your contract states that you are entitled to residence here for one month, which is more than half done. So we will need to set you up with somewhere to live quickly. Of course it is up to you to make arrangements after that. I believe your savings are located, and you have the documents and cards you need to exercise ownership.
“If you would like I can advise a little. If you wish me to help with specific advice I would need to know how much your savings are. Then I can point you in the right direction. For example if your savings are sufficient you may want to buy a place with a loan perhaps if needed. Probably I would advise you to rent first for a time, enabling you to think more carefully about your decisions before committing to buy any property. I imagine you would be well advised to get jobs before you make the big decisions about future investments in property.
“That seems sensible,” agreed Ted, reluctant to think about such mundane details right now. “We just need to find somewhere to rent in the near future, somewhere reasonable.” Ted was quite sure that once they were living independently the small details and the finances would take care of themselves. The important thing was to get somewhere to live, and to get jobs so they could live as full citizens of this modern society.
“We haven’t had time or the inclination to look at property prices yet,” said Louise. “Do you happen to know what sort of prices they are?”
“There are plenty of estate agencies you could call in on, or look on line, to get an idea of property prices Louise. Really you need to go to them to find out, it isn’t our function.”
Louise did not like the way the Director seemed to wash his hands of her question, which she had thought quite harmless. This, she thought, was further evidence of the commercialisation of Future Investments. The Director’s obligation was a contractual one, to business clients rather than one of a fellow Seminarian and guide. Belinda and some of the others had been perfectly willing to give support which went beyond the strict contractual obligation, but they were all paid workers, and not real friends. In the New Seminary it had been different. The members had partied and socialised together, exploring life and the future with each other, willing to make their new world together by their open friendship.