January 06, 2011, 4:49 PM — Pfftt. Tablets. Lame. Ancient.
Jerome is an artifact. There's no way you could recruit the team he was asking for if the best BYOC premium you could promise was a tablet. Your daughter has the last tablet you owned. She uses it as a platter to serve tea to dolls.
The elevator was packed, and slow so your phone's Claustrophobe app took used your heads-up-display to count down the floors as you descended, estimate the total weight in the elevator and remaining oxygen. The HUD circuitry is invisible in fashionable glasses, as is the information displayed at an angle only you can see. Full augmented-reality intelligence without looking like you need it.
That's a premium, Jerome.
Your phone recognized a man and woman, standing a little too close to each other near the buttons. You don't recognize the names that hover under their turned faces, but you remember the meeting at which the tag says you'd met. She carried her tablet like it was a privilege, and he carried a folder. Like a child.
Now he wears HUDs, but downscale versions so big he probably couldn't see enough real world to keep from tripping over it. Insiders! Go for security because you don't have the chops to be a full-time gigger, so you have to settle for the toys one employer was willing to buy.
Gigging is a risk, but with the right premiums you can add hardware and data services until you're a walking, talking compendium of every answer, action plan and good business decision ever made. A one-person consulting company able to analyze a complex problem and spit back an answer as quickly as you could air-type the answer with the subcutaneous transponders in your fingertips and a presentation your phone builds on its own.
Once an insider, you're stuck with whatever one employer decides to give you, which isn't much.
It was just stupid that Jerome, who used to be one of the best giggers out there, thought he could get a big project done with Insiders staff that and the raggedy contract crew he could get with a child's toy for a premium.
It could have been an intentional slight. Or a mistake. He air-typed through the whole meeting. Very rude when you're F2F. You should focus on the other F.
Did he skip an upgrade to his Focus Implant to afford the 3-D wireless contact lenses that were conspicuously invisible behind the HUD glasses he wasn't wearing? No flexible display rolled up on the desk, no holo generator. Must have gone with the contacts in version 1. Full price, probably plus a pre-order fee.
Flick the switch and you're focused; turn up the current (illegal-ish) and you stay on goal 22 hours. Turn it up high enough and nothing's boring. Turn it down and the tremors stop. Turn it off and you're in a coma until your phone wakes you up.
Except in Japan when it got the time confused and you slept for three days. That'll end a gig. Or a marriage. Which doesn't matter, anyway. Karoshi among Westerners is mostly myth, anyway.
Out on the street, the day is cloudier than your phone predicted, and you're on 37th St., not 38th. You push the AppReset to reset the oval in your pocket the size of a baby's hand.
Your HUD blanked out and suddenly you were stupid. No schedule, no directions, no idea who was around you, whether they were friends or strangers, what the terror threat was or the names of your daughters?
Your body stops in the middle of the sidewalk as your mind loses its way. Your eyes decide to watch clouds.
New Yorkers, annoyed by obstacles on the sidewalk but accustomed to reboots, circle around without looking directly at you.
Clouds drift inevitably across skyscrapers for an ageless 30 seconds. Your phone relaunches and the current returns to your subcorticum. Reality is re-augmented and you can control your eyes again. You know your agenda and it rules your life. Again.
You walk briskly West.