Thursday, October 1, 2015


Getting Even
By Peter McMillan

Bruce threw a huge rock at the parking enforcement robot and knocked it to the ground. Seeing the robot go down in a heap of clattering metal and sparks was almost worth the $500 ticket.

The fine was ridiculous—excessive and unfair. Overnight parking at the train station was not allowed between 12:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., but he'd only been in violation for one minute, if that. The ticket said 5:59; however his watch read 6:04. Besides, his Ford wasn't even worth $500.

Why not ticket the DeLorean or the Porsche or even the Ferrari in the first row. They were here before he was. And they were the latest 2115 hydro models and could easily afford to pay the fine. It wasn't his fault the robot didn't complete its tour in time to see they had parked before 6:00 a.m.

It wasn't fair but there was really no point contesting it, because these robots had impeccable memories for details and their bodies were hardened to protect the data. Data tampering had plagued earlier models. The data storage was actually protected by greater security measures than was the on-board computer. The computer was essentially just a common circuit board available online and for drone delivery at most big box technology stores. The replacement process was so straightforward that parking enforcement robots were capable of auto-installing their own circuit boards.

It wasn't clear whether he'd done any real damage to the robot, so he walked over to the supine pile of metal. It gurgled and made a number of unintelligible sounds. Their English is generally high school level, so clearly some damage had been caused to the language centre. The midsection, which housed the incriminating data, was still intact though. That was a concern.

Looking around among all the cars and trucks in the parking lot, Bruce found one of those giant tow trucks that are used to tow big trucks and buses. Making sure that no one was paying attention—and everyone was running for the train anyway—he dragged the slurring robot and shoved it up under the rear double tires of the tow truck, ensuring it could only be seen by someone stooping down to look underneath.

He had to be certain that it worked. The damage had to be done and it had to be severe enough to remove all traces of the evidence against him. He could sit in his car and wait for the tow truck to back up or he could go off to work and have faith that the tow truck would finish off the robot.

He decided to wait. He could also call in sick. So he waited. Finally, the driver of the tow truck arrived. The driver checked all the sides but didn't bother looking underneath. When he backed up, incredibly he didn't notice the bump. The tow truck crushed the robot effortlessly and with no bounce whatsoever. Amazingly, the tow truck driver drove off without the slightest idea he'd just flattened a parking enforcement robot.

Bruce was ecstatic. Everything had worked to plan. But just to be sure, he got out of his car to confirm that the robot's torso region had been satisfactorily destroyed. Indeed it had and the robot was no longer gurgling pre-language sounds, so it had to be out of commission—completely out of order. He went back to his car and got in and drove away to enjoy the rest of his sick day.

What Bruce had forgot to consider was the surveillance canopy, the high-tech CCTV net, which continually recorded every square inch of the train station, the parking lot, and the adjoining construction site for the new station. Feeds from the canopy were routinely scanned at head office by parking enforcement robots with desk jobs.

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