Hello and Goodbye in Portuguese

by Joel Johnson


As jizz-mopping gigs go, this isn’t my worst. The worst was the Uber gig, seven months back. Fully-fucking-autonomous cars that can park themselves in your driveway to wait, or figure out when it’s polite to double-park or not (and in which cities the ticket fines aren’t worth the efficiency), but too dumb to clean themselves out when a fare decided to tug one out on the way to the airport. And the suits cheaped out on the cleaning supplies, too; just a cheap sponge and some protein-unwinding, mostly all-organic cleaning spray. They were saving their money for the autonomous car washers, which spun up for the first time after I’d been scratching at the edges of dried cum with a nitrile-covered fingernail for seven weeks. Two weeks after *that* — enough time to make sure the moisture and DNA sensors woven here and there into the seat fabric weren’t too finicky, and that the big steam blaster wouldn’t fuck them up — we were all out of a career, nearly a month faster than anticipated.

This one is better, or at least less hands-on. A little RV company opened up a second depot on an empty parking lot in a long-gone resort up here in the Catskills. All these little motile homes look custom, but they’ve all got the same floor-plan inside, give or take a divan, and the sleds they drive around on are industry-standard shit: four wheels and a battery, the same thing you see in road trains hauling whatever on the interstate. They’ve all got cute names like “Furthur” and “Voyager,” and they don’t look like a bad place to spend a month in: bay windows to look out at the forest, a little range for cooking. If I get past the threshold, I’d definitely consider renting one.

What’s nice is that the cleaner modules themselves are automatic, and if I have to get my hands on the filth, it’s at least gone through the sloshy, soapy tummy of one of these things before I have to deal with it. I don’t really mind the jizz stuff, honestly, but dealing with shit still bums me out, so I avoid it if I can. The cleaners handle everything up-to-but-not-including a fat, spiteful, targeted turd. Smears are fine; the wall cleaner gets them. But for some reason these assholes will pack up their clothes, put away all the dishes, give a five-star rating to the RV company, and then squat right in the middle of the floor and take a huge shit. I mean, there are gadgets that *can* clean those up, I’m sure, but we can’t use a big steam blaster in the RVs because of all the Etsy knick-knacks that would just evaporate, and the Roombas just walk right up to it, do a little curtsey, and go around.

I think it might be something sexual. Or symbolic. I don’t know. It’s rude, for sure, but it’s also keeping me in work for at least a few more weeks. Heck, maybe longer. The RV fleet is just a start-up side project for this other-side guy who is making ridiculous money doing something with fish. My profile had projected this career to be obviated in 12 weeks, but I’ve been here for four months and haven’t gotten a two-weeks-notice pop-up yet. I figure there’s a way to automate even the delicate fabric stuff — there’s that tree-looking thing that wheels around in full-service condos that I’m sure would work — but I think the human touch is part of the whole B&B vibe. According to the jobs app, they’ve got another 90+ days before they anticipate obviating this career, but they don’t seem to be in a rush to figure it out.

I’m not sure I can trust what the jobs app says anymore. I mean, it’s nice! I really like the updated interface. You can sort by Projected Life of Career or by career categories, and it has all your personal data loaded so it already knows what you’re qualified for. (I haven’t tried any of the career training games except for ‘Caregiver’ because it’s a prerequisite in the tutorial.) I’ve got My Physical Risk set really low, so it’s not showing me any careers with bonus multipliers. And I don’t have any other continents checked so I’m only getting the NA pool, which takes me out of the lottery. I’m probably not managing my effort optimally given how many of the really nice careers’ countdowns are already flashing, and it’s not like there’s another app to use lol. (Ah me! If only it were still two summers ago, when the termination day on that watercolor pet portrait gig seemed unfathomably distant. Still the best thing we ever did, even if the pay rate set us behind the curve by a half-percent and we got fired six weeks early when they wheeled in that dog scanner.)

Honestly, it doesn’t matter. At this rate I’m not projected to cross for, like…well, I could check the app, but it’s like twenty years and change. And that’s with me saving 85% of everything I make over the minimum monthly income *and* with the future minimum increases factored in. And I might get cancer! Some of the Reddit threads have their own calculators that indicate the ones in the apps are being optimistically tuned, even though that’s fucking illegal. (At least I think it’s illegal.) There’s a guy on there who I used to think was a steel-beams kook, but now is saying that all the baseline threshold-threshold dates are projected out for 70 more years because that’s how long it will take for all the people who will never cross over to die off. I mean, he’s still a fucking racist, but he might be right about that. I’m super glad I’m working, at least.

Anyway, I miss you guys. I wish we could have kept living together, but I understand why it made sense to do what you did. If I had a chance to marry into a family now…even though I still think we could have pooled our money and bought into retirement earlier than you think we could have. They can’t just let everyone run around scrounging after the career tables wrap up, can they? People would fucking riot.

If you get a chance, rent one of these RVs and come see me! (Just tell it to come to the resort and I can walk over to the campground lot.) I expect I’ll be here for a while longer, and I’ve got a cool setup out in the woods — a little stove and everything — which should last me until winter hits.

Just do me a favor and jerk off on a tree like a decent human being.


Hey, thanks for writing back. Your Insta is amazing! I’m very jealous. So green!

I’ll try to make it out soon. It’s hard because I blew all my transit on going back home in May. We can buy more but Richard is on again about how we have to live within our means, which I gather is his attempt to act normal, or what he thinks is normal. It’s so stupid. We can afford extra credits on just our monthly interest alone, but it puts that stupid badge on your profile that says “Mega Traveller” and apparently that’s gauche now or something.

Anyway, I’m sorry to bitch about it. I know I shouldn’t, but it seems like everyone who lives on this side has to appear to act really guilty all the time, like everything here is perfect. And yeah, we’ve got food (you have food, right?) and I can live a “normal” lifestyle, but I can’t go shopping without getting dirty looks from people who see me carry stuff home, like I’m the one who invented the check-out machine or that I’m some weird poseur because I want to actually leave the house to shop. There’s just nothing to do! How many books can you read? How many games can you play? I even had the house install one of those tanks where you only feel pleasure and can’t think coherent thoughts, because it’s supposed to be really good for you, but that’s boring, too. I mean, it feels amazing when you’re in there, but once it’s over you can’t remember any, like, time, so it’s just this spot in your memory where you remember feeling good but you don’t feel any calmer afterwards. (My skin feels great, though.)

There’s like 50+ years left of this shit before we go full auto, and I am not sure I’m going to be able to keep myself busy until then. Or after, I guess. Ugh, I should come see you. Richard would plotz, but who cares! I just don’t understand how any of this works. We’re supposed to be rich because our money is going to keep growing until…nobody uses money? Fucking doubt it. We’re going to be, like, 5 days from the flip and the richest guys are going to push back the date again, because who wants to be not rich? Ever? They’ll just say we have to keep using money to keep track of things, and it’s been such a great system for this long, and there are too many contracts in the chain that still aren’t resolved, and f;alkshflasdihaskhr.

(Winton says hi, btw. He’s doing great. We have a girl come in once a week because we are trying to do our part, even though she sucks, and she’s teaching him a little Portuguese, which is awesome.)


I’m sorry to hit you up like this, but I need help. Do you think you could send me 5.442? I know it’s a lot, but I need to have my fund over 15 or I’ll look off-track and nobody is hiring people who are off-track anymore. I don’t think I can handle going through the winter in a stand-up shelter and this RV gig is kaput. (They bought one of those tree-things.)

I promise I will never, ever pay you back.


No problem! Just don’t say anything to Richard about it. Like, don’t say thanks, because I know you’ll want to. He won’t care, but he’ll feel compelled to lecture me about it since he won’t feel comfortable lecturing you.

Check your account. It should be in there! And I sent you a little extra so you can at least lay down for a few weeks while you wait for the careers app to refresh.


Welp, this sucks. I hope you haven’t been avoiding my messages because you feel weird. Don’t. It’s not your fault. There was every indication that this would happen. (I just didn’t expect it to happen this year! The timetables are fucked.) I didn’t even get a notice before I was fired. One second I was down in a sump attaching the hoses to the feeder-scrubbers, and literally the next second a hose snaked down from the porthole into the sewage and plugged itself in. Scared the shit out of me. (Metaphorically, sadly.) By the time I crawled out and unsuited they’d already paid me and cancelled the career for the entire Eastern Seaboard.

A bunch of us got together and built this nice camp rig up in New Hampshire that is holding steady for now. Karen sprang for takeout yesterday and used the drone’s camera as it flew out to us and we all looked at the stream. The harvester line is about to cross over I-93. They’re leaving the trees up, of course. It honestly doesn’t look that different behind the line than in front of it. Just more manicured, somehow. I can’t imagine how many calories they can possibly be getting from a bunch of second-growth scrub floor, but they’re going to pick up what they can all the same. The harvest will be here in a week or so; I guess I’ll get to see how they work up close when they cross over our camp! I still get tickled at seeing new bots. Dumb, I guess.

We’ve got the standard three-sisters garden going up here and it’s working well enough, but it’s so fucking hot already. July is going to be tough. I know they’re saying they’re not abandoning us, but come on. They ran out of careers two months ago and we’re still 87 years from a North American cross-over? We’re not all going to make it. None of the new algae farms around Greenland are even producing, from what I’ve read. (Well, they are, but it’s just as much bacteria than anything else. Why are we in a rush to collect all this cum and shit if we don’t give it time to break down! Basic aquaponics, fam.)

I should have worked harder. They said we were all going to get over eventually, and it sounded a lot like a hymn, but I sang along anyway. And I know there are a lot of very smart people working their asses off trying to buy us some time. But I still feel like this is my fault. I just never thought there would come a point where they’d have to leave anyone behind. (At least not in the U.S.!) How hard is it to make another tanker of Soylent, right?

I truly, genuinely hope you are well. Please don’t ice me out!


Lol Pat I am so sorry! I changed emails. It took me a while to realize I screwed up the forwards.

You’re being overdramatic a little, aren’t you? Have you been watching the news? Half of the lunar yeast farms are already running! There’s a payload of Soylent dropping into the Great Lakes like twice a day.

Be patient, okay? They only killed the timetables because everything is moving too fast to calculate. We hit full auto a decade-and-a-half ahead of schedule! That’s good news, not bad! Everyone will cross over soon enough. (At least here.)

Just wait a little longer. They’ll figure this out. Just a little longer.

I mean, it’s not like you ever liked working, right? Enjoy it. Read a book!



P.S. You have got to get one of these tanks.