“YOtopia, YOtopia, YOtopia!” The familiar refrain jolts me from my soma-induced sleep this morning as it has for the last four hundred and twenty seven mornings since I began my service. It echoes around my small bedroom, bouncing off the damp walls, filling the flat with noise, just as it fills me with a sense of perfect contentment. Men from the company fitted the ‘call to work’ technology the day before my first shift and this morning it reminds me of the debt I owe YOtopia.
Walking through the old town used to be dangerous before I joined the company. Squatters lurk in the shadows of run down buildings. Are they looking for shelter? or their next victim? The orange light of a small wood fire dances behind a boarded-up shop window as I pick my way through the rubble in the streets heading towards the new town. Now that I am part of the company, my journey to work goes unhindered. I wear my bright orange YOtopia branded clothing like an impenetrable suit of armour. I pass the guarded checkpoint with a flash of my ID and the change in scenery is remarkable. The streets here in the new town are paved with perfectly clean artificial marble and colourful lights in the shopfronts dazzle the eyes. The streets are empty here, but not for fear of being attacked; simply because it is early in the morning. I continue my journey, the sky is still dark.
The restaurant comes into view as I enter the shopping center. Though I know that I am in good time, I check my watch. Fifteen minutes early, no need to panic. I smile at my co-workers as i walk through the automatic doors. The openers have already switched on the internal climate control and programmed the day’s motivational messages. As I swipe myself in at the till, the big television screens tell me to stretch regularly during long shifts. I should be fine today though being as I’m only rotad in for nine hours. The system recognises my identity and welcomes me with the same “YOtopia, YOtopia, YOtopia!” that woke me this morning. When I think of this mantra being heard every twenty minutes in two hundred restaurants across the UK, I can’t help but remember the eateries of the past; small, isolated businesses unable to compete today in the glorious age of corporations.
I realise that I have been thinking dangerous thoughts and turn my attention to the day’s tasks, beginning with going to the deep freeze to get the salads needed for today’s service. As I pass an upstairs window on the way to the freezers I catch a glimpse of the sun rising over the new town; the tinted windows of majestic concrete skyscrapers glinting in the warm morning rays. The management assures me that in just three more weeks I’ll be moving into one of those spacious new living spaces. What a day that will be, to leave my old flat in the slums and take my place in the new world, the place I’ve earned after working sixty sixty-hour weeks.
As I come back out of the deep freeze, the manager’s voice booms out over the restaurant’s intercom;
‘YOchef seven three four one please present yourself in the manager’s office. YOchef seven three four one to the manager’s office please. Thank you’.
When I walk into the manager’s office I am handed an envelope from YOtopia HQ. My thoughts turn to my impending relocation to the new town. My day just gets better and better!
Outside the office, I rip the letter open and inside i find the following message;
‘Due to a nationwide reshuffle of staff, your services are no longer required. Please return your company clothing within the next week to avoid the items being deducted from your final pay cheque. We appreciate your service’.