Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Great Escape Pod...

Hello Friends.

This is going to sound depressing, as if I've endured terrible circumstances, but it's not meant to because I haven't. I have always wanted an escape pod. Some kind of space vehicle that would appear whenever I wished it, open some sort of top hatch, and fly me into the air, hermetically sealed from the world around me.

Again, this would not be to escape actual bad things, like drunken beatings, hungry nights huddled by a hobo-fire, or outdoor music festivals. Rather, just to have at the ready during slow school days, endless meetings, awkward small talk, or helping a friend move. And it's interesting to me that, though the mind-numbing circumstances warranting the pod have changed (long day in seventh grade versus long day at the cubicle), the design and features of my pod are basically the same.

Dream: Have an escape pod.

Goal: Achievable. I guess the idea was born, like so many futuristic but impractical notions, out of The Jetsons. Remember in the opening credits where George Jetson has his family in that pod and they descend in individual pods wherever they're going? That's what I want, except going upwards, not down to the Space Mall or wherever the hell Jane Jetson went for her “job”, which was shopping. According to Wikipedia, The Jetsons lived in 2062. If the show's creators are prescient, and I'm hoping they are, I will be nearly 80 when they are created. Just in time to zip away when the grandkids visit and start pulling on my neck for fun.

Plan: Elaborately describe the pod I desire in the hopes that some ambitious tech geek stumbles across this entry and decides to devote time and money towards creating it for me.

The first time I remember really putting thought into my escape pod was the seventh grade. I had a particularly heinous teacher riding the crest of her final year before retirement. Short-tempered and snappish, she ran a tight ship where no one raised their hand, talked out of turn, or enjoyed themselves. It was a nervous and crampy year for me, filled with the pointless busywork of a dragon's victory lap. I remember spending an entire day doing some kind of project where we stuck pins in a bar of soap, then wound ribbons around the pins, then more pins, then more ribbons, to create some kind of useless decoration. My friend Ryan remarked, “Hurry up. We have to get these to the streets of Taiwan by morning.” That still makes me laugh, fifteen years later. Anyway, Ryan and I somehow determined which car (as in make, model and license plate) belonged to our mean teach, and whoever got to school first would inform the other if she was in that day or not (blessedly, she took lots of days off to smoke and plot genocides). Anyway, after hearing the bad news in the schoolyard and waiting for the bell to ring and another tense day to begin, I first began dreaming of my escape pod.

As I envisioned it, the pod was long, but narrow, with a clear bubbled top like an alien spaceship but also pretty casket-esque, if I think about it. Anyway, when called on for a question during French, being told we were going to spend gym class “practicing our running”, or looking up at the clock, praying for 3.30 and finding it was 9.07, in an ideal world, the pod would suddenly appear, and open the top “hatch” part and I would get in and the hatch would close up over me. I'd have enough height to sit up, but not stand, and more than enough room to lie down and stretch, because the base of the pod was my bed. Depending on my mood, the hatch would then tint so I could see out, but no one could see in, or I'd keep it clear to give the finger to my stupid classmates, and start my ascent to the skies with a spaceship sounding “be-be-be-be-be-” (or, if you prefer, “boo-boo-boo-boo-boo-”). In a stroke of design genius, I made the pod completely soundproof. Thus, I would watch my terrible teacher rage and fume, screaming at me to return “maintenant!” and I would just laugh at her dumb face. Other kids would regard the pod with a mixture of confusion and total envy. “How come he gets a pod?” they would mouth, as I effortlessly broke through the ceiling of the classroom and way up into the sky. I guess the pod would have a television and a stock pile of preferred snackables, but the fact that it was predominantly bed meant that I would usually just play some soothing music and drift off, my problems light years away, drifting through space.

I'd probably want WiFi in there now, but otherwise, the design would be essentially the same (though regrettably wider, to accommodate my adult girth). How I'd love to leave crowded subway platforms on it and cruise over horrendous commute traffic. How I'd have it idling near the till of my old retail job, so when an angry custy came up with a broken product and a tattered receipt expecting a refund, compensation, service, I'd tell them quietly to go fuck themselves, and while their rage face went from red to purple, the hatch would open and then “be-be-be-be-be-”. In my current job, I'd lie down and snuggle up during discussions of “volume and velocity strategy” in endless meetings, or when last minute changes come down the pipeline with the condescending instruction, “This needs to be done yesterday,” boy oh boy, a pod would be nice.

I guess the funny thing is, though daily life now technically presents more urgent challenges than those faced by a crampy seventh-grader, I feel like I need the pod a lot less. We tend to romanticize childhood with the benefit of hindsight, but how quickly we forget those endless days of doing exactly what you're told and engaging in pointless activity at the whim of some adult. At least now, if I really hate my job, my commute, my circumstances, I can simply choose not to take part in any of it and suffer the consequences. Luckily, I've got things pretty good but that's because, at least in part, the choice is always mine.

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