"Good morning, welcome to the Integrated Systems store, how can I help you this morning?" asked an impossibly perky sales clerk. She had bouncy blond curls and her chin was losing the acne war. The name tag pinned to her neon orange shirt read "Candi." There was a heart over the "i."
Vern felt an immediate, boundless loathing for Candi. "I'm having some trouble with the chip I purchased two days ago. I would like it uninstalled."
Candi pouted. "Oh, that's a shame. Let me see if I can get someone to help you." She looked around the crowded store. It seemed like everyone wanted to purchase the latest, greatest, bio-integration systems.
Vern shook his head. He could remember the days when a computer actually sat on your desk and a smart phone was the height of convenience. But now, well, why type an email when you could have a chip implanted in your skull and do it with a thought? The procedure took two minutes and was done right in the store. And that was only the beginning. Want to start your car, or the blender, just by thinking it? There was a chip for that. Be able to sing like a pop star? A chip for that. Need to be stronger? Able to tell better jokes? Thinner? Chip, chip, chip.
Vern had resisted for years. He was a programmer, dating back to the days of those sit-on-your-desk computers, and while he loved technology, he knew a little too much about how the sausage was made to actually have a mini-computer inserted into his body.
At least until last weekend, when he had gotten a basic General Memory Chip 4.0 implanted. While he was on the back nine of his career, the truth was Vern wasn't ready to retire and all the damn kids coming out of the universities already had chips. They could remember more, in more detail, and calculate better and faster than he could. If he wanted to stay employed, he needed a chip.
But he hadn't counted on the side effects.
"Here's Geri," Candi said. "He can help you with your issues."
Geri smiled. He was blond, with braces. "Hello sir, how can I help you today?"
Vern looked at Geri's name tag. "You have a heart over your i."
"Yes sir, I do."
"You are a boy, aren't you?" Vern said, and immediately regretted it. "I'm sorry, that was impolite. I've been having a hard couple of days since I got my chip."
"Don't be concerned sir. I have a special emotion enhancement that allows me to ignore negativity. Every employee at ISS does. It keeps us smiling," Geri smiled wider to emphasize his point.
"That sounds like hell," Vern said.
Geri continued smiling. "If you would tell me your problem, perhaps I can help resolve it."
"My problem, Geri, is that I want the chip your company installed in my head, removed."
"Hmmm, interesting, and what is causing that feeling?" Geri asked.
"If you must know, the damn thing made me get up and go for a walk on Saturday during the Red Sox game. And, in case it needs to be said, Geri, I would have preferred to have remained on my couch, drinking my beer, and watching the end of the game."
"Ah, well, the chip operates best when your body is in peak condition and, I apologize for saying this but my honesty enhancement requires it, your body is about fifty three pounds over its ideal weight. The chip is programmed to identify self destructive behaviors and avoid them, as well as encourage positive behaviors, such as exercise. If our chip is to be successful, you are going to have to work with it."
"It made me walk 5 miles! I almost had a heart attack!" Vern shouted.
"The chip monitors your heart rate at all times and is well aware of its limits. You were in no danger of having a myocardial infarction."
"Oh really? What else does your omniscient chip know cause it sure as heck doesn't know anything about the area I live in. It marched me through a very, very, bad neighborhood," Vern replied.
Geri's smile flickered. "Sadly, there have been some issues reported with the GPS function of the GMC 4. But rest assured, our engineers are working on a fix and we expect an update to be downloaded any day now."
Vern was actually speechless. His mouth opened, then closed, then opened again. Finally he spluttered, "An update? I was almost mugged by a drug dealer with a smart gun."
"Well, he wound up shooting himself in the head."
Geri shook his head and tsked loudly. "How unfortunate. Must have been that nasty Hemingway virus that's going around. Anyone who owns a smart gun should really run a virus scan."
"Look, that's irrelevant, I just want the chip out,"
"Just a moment sir," Geri cocked his head to one side, as if he heard someone calling his name. "Good news, there is a patch coming in the next five seconds that will address all of the issues you've been having."
"I don't want a patch, I just want..." Vern suddenly stopped and a smile spread across his face.
"How do you feel now sir?" Geri asked.
"I feel wonderful," Vern replied. "I love my chip. The only thing that could make my life better is if I lost fifty three pounds and 6 ounces. I'll get started on that right away.": He turned and marched out of the door.
"Have a pleasant day, and be sure to come back for the upgrade. You'll be due in just about six months," Geri called.
Copyright 2012 John Lance