As he tapped his fingers on his desk, Future-Man struggled to figure out how to convince his latest nemisis “50’s-Guy”, that the next millenium has much more to offer than the previous one. He wanted to bring them something. Show them something amazing. His eyes unintentionally focused onto his cell-phone, and there he found his answer…
Trip log 279 – Mail/Womens-rights – 10/7/1952
Walking into the 1950’s, Future-Man rubbed his temples before reaching for his cell phone.
It was not there. At least not in the same way it was before. From his pocket, Future-Man pulled a bundle of parts that resembled a cell-phone, but in reality was just a mess of junk.
“Damn. It wouldn’t let me take it. But why is my watch not destroyed?”
Staring at his analog watch, Future-Man came to realize that the portal doesn’t allow artifacts of newer technology to cross into older time fields. Either the portal, or the laws of time itself, prevent it. The only exception being his return-beacon which looks surpisingly plain anyway.
“My cell-phone better find itself in working order when I return!” Future-Man grunted, although he wasn’t really sure where to direct the threat. He could only hope that the process would reverse itself.
The phone cost him 250 dollars, after all.
Future-Man was standing next to a fence near 50’s-Guy’s house. From around the corner, he could hear a conversation. Happily, he decided to introduce himself.
That didn’t happen.
As he turned the corner, Future-Man saw a greater challange than he had expected.
It was 50s-Gal.
The first time Future-Man was introduced to 50s-Guy’s wife, he found himself sorely outmatched in wit. He drew in a deep breath and tried to cover up his shock at the mere sight of this woman. It takes a few days to recharge the portal, so any thoughts of cancelling the trip were quickly erased, and besides, Future-Man felt he was better prepared this time. He knew not to underestimate this woman, and with that, he started toward her.
50’s-Gal was talking to her mailman when Future-Man approached. The mailman offered a quick smile and a nod before continuing on his route, carrying a sack labeled U.S. POSTAL on his back.
50’s-Gal turned to face Future-Man. “How ya doin’? Back already? I heard you were just here a few days ago.”
“Yeah, I was here when your husband was working on his car. Is he around”? Future-Man asked, hoping for an escape.
“You came a bit early. He’ll be home from work in about an hour.”
Future-Man knew he didn’t have time to wait. This was it. He had to think of something. He thought of the mailman as he continued delivering mail down the street.
“So the mail is delivered by hand in your time?” said Future-Man.
“Well, sometimes a truck will come around, but mostly the mail is delivered by a man with a cart or a bag. They are always on time and friendly about it too.” 50’s-Gal explained, growing curious about the future’s mail system. “Let me guess.” she continued “The mail of the future is delivered instantly right onto your breakfast table every morning, right?”
HA! Future-Man laughed to himself, but tried hard not to look smug.
“As a matter of fact, we have something called E-mail. Letters that are transmitted instantly to a monitor. It’s like a TV, but for getting your mail.”
“That sounds nice, but what about bills, Birthday cards, and packages?”
Future-Man knew what she was getting at. She did this to him the last time they talked. She would pick apart his information in search of flaws.
Not this time, he swore.
“Some bills can be paid using that same tv device, but for actual packages, cards and solid stuff, we still have the same mail service you do. With many alternatives too! UPS, DHL, Federal Express,… there are many other companies who can do the job, just as well.”
Future-Man stared hard at 50’s-Gal wondering if she was even listening.
Shuffling through her mail, she finally looked up and said “There’s talk that one day the cost of sending a letter may reach a nickel. Does this ever happen?”
Future-Man wanted to laugh, but for fear of giving too much away, he held back. “The cost of sending a standard letter costs quite a few nickels, actually. The price is raised a little at at time, so we hardly notice.”
50’s-Gal was quick to question this. “So with every increase in price, do you see an increase in service? I can’t imagine it getting any better than it is now.”
Future man knew he was in trouble. As he watched the mailman stroll from house to house, his thoughts shifted to his own mailman. Or mailperson. He hardy could tell from his house because all the mailboxes on his block were on the far side of the street. This made it easier for the mailtruck to make it’s stops without having to turn around.
By now, Future_Guy was visibly upset. He was paying so much more for the mail service, only to cross the street, in the cold, or the rain, just to get his mail.
50’s-Gal had forced him on the defensive and they both knew it.
It was time to change the subject. Maybe assault her directly, although not so obviously, of coarse. Must always keep the conversation pleasant in case he ever wanted to come back and talk some more.
Future-Man looked her in the face. She looked a wreck, truth be told. No make-up. Hair in curlers. Even her choice of clothes… it was time to attack.
“So… enough mail-talk. How have you been? Working much?”
It was a subtle move, knowing that career women in the 1950’s were few and far between. The women’s movement hadn’t made demands of equal employment, yet… and that’s where Future-Man felt he had an advantage.
“I’ll say. If I don’t get the house cleaned and dinner started before the kids get home… forget it. My day is shot.”
Future-Man expected that answer, or one like it.
He had to make her take the bait. Try a new lure…
“Ever wanted to make some money for yourself?”
“Naa, I’m not much for nursing. The blood and stuff. You understand. And typing behind a desk all day, you can forget that.”
Future-Man knew he had her now. Trapped in her own ideals about what a woman is supposed to do for a paycheck. “In my time, women can become employed in just about any career they chose. Many big companies are owned and controlled by a woman!”
Take it, Future-Man thought. Bite the hook. I’ve got you now…
“What makes you think I’d be so thrilled to jump into the man’s world anyway? At home, I can take a break whenever I want. Watch TV. Invite a friend over for morning coffee. These are things you have to wait for the weekend to do. Am I right?”
What the hell? How did she turn this around so quickly? Recover. Recover. You’re OK.
He tried a different approach.
“Look, don’t you want to be self sufficient? Independant? The choice to become a full fledged member of America’s corporate union. Or government! Did I mention that? You can run for office! There are many…”
50’s-Gal interrupted. “Do women have to do this? I mean, are there any housewives in the future, or how about househusbands?”
That made Future-Man laugh. He honestly couldn’t think of a single couple where the man doesn’t work. Or even the woman for that matter. Except for a few business owners or rich doctors. Maybe their wives or husbands can stay home.
“No, I can’t think of any househusbands, and few housewifes.”
Future-Man wasn’t sure where to take this topic now.
Damn, he wished that cell-phone still worked.
50’s-Gal, on the other hand, wasn’t through yet. “It sounds like we’ve damned ourselves by forcing women into the job hunt. By just that one move, you have doubled the competition in the workforce. Which probably hurt the standard average income. Am I right?”
Future-Man shook his head. “No no, I make way more than the average man from your time. I actually make pretty good money for a man living in my own time.”
“That’s not the point. My question is: In the future, can one average man’s income, maintain a house, a car, two children in school and a stay-at-home wife?”
Future-Man threw his arms up in the air. “No alright! No it can’t. But there are other factors. The cost of living for example. Prices go up…”
“Like the mail?” 50’s-Gal smiled and crossed her arms.
Future-Man almost told her to shut up right then and there, but 50’s-Gal still wasn’t done yet.
“So either by force or by necessity, women are in the workforce and you think this is such a great achievement?”
Future-Man didn’t wait for his return-beacon to beep and tell him it was time to go. He started towards the corner and paused for just a moment before walking through the portal.
“Fine, you just sit around and watch TV or whatever, but get used to the idea of working outside the house because it’s coming. Equal rights, baby. Pay your own way, and you can forget about us holding doors open for you!”
Future-Man leaned back against the wall of his home and thought himself an ass for the comments he made before returning. Although he felt a little better when thinking that in all likelyhood, that woman has died of old age, by now. Hell, he needed something to feel like he had some sort of a victory back there.
Come now, he thought, it wasn’t a total loss was it?
He relaxed and let his hands fall into his pockets.
And felt around.
His cell-phone was still broken.