After watching the old Harrison Ford classic “Blade Runner” the other night, I was feeling the need for something less dystopian and flipped over to Channel 10 just in time to catch Byron Day leading into a story about proposed bridge tolls. I’m not sure if it was Byron’s soothing, coffee- rich voice, the huge bowl of Mexican food I’d devoured or having to hear about this stupid I-10 bridge toll again, but I began to get drowsy and drifted off.
When I woke, everything seemed a bit off. The wife and kids appeared fine, but a little too fine, if you know what I mean. On a hunch I took a flat-head screwdriver and quickly popped the top off my teenage son’s head. As expected, it was full of computer boards, gizmos and possibly Cheez Whiz®. He was an android, as, undoubtedly, was the rest of my family, which could only mean I was dreaming about the future. I put his lid back on and told him to vacuum the house, which he did without complaint. So the future’s not all bad.
But I suddenly felt panicked and out of place. “Quick! What year is it?” I asked my smoking hot robot wife.
“It is 22 YOT,” she responded, smiling and offering me a cold beer.
I dreaded asking, but did anyway. “What’s ‘YOT’ mean?”
“It is 22 Year of Trump, our glorious leader,” she said, still smiling.
“Aw you have to be kidding me! Are you telling me that bozo is still in charge?”
“No, wonderful husband, the Great Leader is gone, but his giant brain is in a jar and has been in charge of developing new reality television for more than 20 years now. The new show, in which a gang of homicidal androids chase journalists through a huge field of broken glass, rusty needles and rattlesnakes, starts this very evening! Shall I prepare your spot on the couch?” she said, making air quotes when she said “spot.” I liked her attitude.
But this being a dream about the future, I figured I’d better leave the house and check out what was going on around town.
“Hey everybody, let’s go for a ride,” I said. The robot family began laughing hysterically — for robots.
“Dear, that’s a lovely, old-fashioned idea, but I don’t think you’re going to enjoy driving as much as you did before the Great Leader redesigned the automobile using his superior mind,” robot wife said.
“Did he try square wheels or something?” I asked rhetorically.
“So you heard!” the wife said. “Unfortunately the tire companies were not smart enough to follow Great Leader Trump’s design specifications and the tires disappointingly ended up round. But they are amazingly round.”
“OK, then let’s all go for a ride on these redesigned round tires,” I said, wasting my sarcasm on my robot family. They dutifully piled into our car, which cranked up from thought waves. An episode of “The Apprentice” started playing on the audio-visual system, with Trump’s mouth covering most of the wind- shield. “This doesn’t seem safe,” I muttered to myself as the car began to roll forward, then stopped suddenly at the end of our driveway, which was blocked with traffic.
“What’s the deal with all this traffic?” I asked.
“It is always like this. Ever since the new I-10 bridge was built,” robot wife said. “The toll is now $8 one way, so no locals use it and the streets are filled with people trying to find a way around.”
“So you’re telling me that in the future we don’t have driverless vehicles and flying cars to get around all this mess?” I asked.
“We did, but everyone was avoiding the toll, and the company that helped build the bridge had not yet collected $9 billion back on their investment, so the state passed a law that people still have to drive on the ground until the company is happy,” she explained. “But most people still don’t want to pay so much to go across the bay.”
This seemed like a truly dismal future — defective square tires, excessive tolls, Trump’s brain in a jar, attractive robot wives. In fact, it seemed like pure madness. But I was about to find out just how mad it really was.
A guy in a Hawaiian shirt who looked suspiciously like Mike Dow walked up to the car and knocked on my window. “Hey guy, you interested in a high-speed ferry ride to the beach?” he said. “I got just the thing for you and your, um, family. Just $20 a head and you can ride a high-speed ferry down to LuLu’s, then catch a shuttle to the beach! You can avoid all this traffic that way!”
“So $100 for me and the family to go to the beach and be stranded if the weather gets bad? Sounds great. I’m not even sure my family is saltwater safe, so I may need to pass,” I said. “Besides, wouldn’t it just be cheaper to pay the toll and take the bridge?”
“Sure it would,” the man laughed, “and it would get you a great spot in the traffic jam
in Baldwin. Ever since Bucee’s expanded to 1,500 gas pumps, the traffic on I-10 is backed up from the Beach Express to Spanish Fort. If the beach isn’t your thing, maybe just a visit to lovely Fairhope. Right now the Carnival cruise ship is running trips across the bay hourly for pedestrians. It’s a bargain at $15 per person, or whatever you call those things.”
The man went on to explain how people on both sides of the bay spent most of their days trying to avoid paying tolls. That was further complicated after Alabama Power bought the Bankhead Tunnel in 5 YOT and started using it to store coal ash.
“Actually,” he explained, “ALDOT’s even thinking about building a new non-toll bridge to try to go around the old toll bridge. They’re hoping it’ll be finished just around the time Trump’s brain finishes its redesigned plans for flying cars. I hear it’s way too complex for the idiot manufacturers to understand and they’ll have to stay on the ground for a few years, though. Anyway, it’d be a good idea to get another route around this toll.”
My robot wife rolled her eyes and I woke up. Thank God for heartburn.
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