Daily Archives: September 26, 2008

Visions of Dystopia

I woke up this morning with only a few hours of sleep after a night of drinking and dancing.

It was foggy, and still dark out, when I left.

As I started the car I heard the familiar voices on NPR, they tell me Americans all over the country are waking up to more bad news about the economy.

Bailout talks are failing, my bank has been seized by the federal government. I’m not sure what that means, but the word “seized” is intimidating. I have visions of armed troops storming their offices, taking it over by force.

I sit at a red light, a bus comes barreling down the road, slamming on the brakes as it reaches the light. It’s hood goes flying forward, bouncing from the momentum. The driver looks dumbfounded.

I start driving down Avenida Oriente, looking for the line. I keep going and going. I start to worry and wonder where the TJ police have rerouted the line today. I keep going, and find the line, exactly where it should be, without having to go through a maze to get there, it’s a quarter of the length it usually is. I wonder if they’ve all heard the latest news of economic collapse, and decided to just stay home.

It’s still dark and foggy as I wait. I watch the pedestrians walking, the electronic billboards lighting up the predawn sky. All of a sudden, surely inspired by the mood on the radio, I start to feel like I’m in a science fiction dystopian future. I’m sure this exact scene has taken place in a movie, I feel like I’m in a Philip K Dick story.

It’s dark and foggy, dirty. Giant electronic billboards light up the sky, bright colors, advertisements for crap you don’t need, you don’t even want. All around are other brightly colored by dirtied billboards hocking more junk. The people walk quickly, minding their own business, eyes to the ground, making sure not to have contact with anyone else. The ominous building looming ahead: “United States Border Inspection Station”. Federal agents with drug sniffing dogs walking in and out of the stopped cars.

The scene looks futuristic and bleak. As I get to the front of the line I wave my ID in front of a scanner. 10 meters away on a computer monitor being watched by a customs agent details about my life flash onto the screen. My picture, my fingerprints, the dates and times I’ve crossed before, who knows what else they have in that database.

After a few pleasantries with the agent, I’m on my way, on the huge suburban freeways, with their own promise of where the world is headed.