Has anybody here ever been in downtown Bellevue, Washington (state) ? Sucks doesn't it? A very strange place, where you feel the stultifying vise of OWNERSHIP, and CONTROL, and SURVEILLANCE more than any town I've ever been in. Even London doesn't weird me out as much. It seems that every square centimeter of space, every cubic inch of air, every view, every motion is metered, monitored, charged, and billed for by some unseen enforcement machine you feel must be lurking all around you. Terrible.
Being in downtown Bellevue gives me the same creep-o vibe on a large, outdoor scale that genius sci-fi guy Philip Dick described for an indoor setting in his book Ubik:
He vigorously strode to the apartment door, turned the knob and pulled on the release bolt. The door refused to open. It said, 'Five cents, please.'
He searched his pockets. No more coins; nothing. 'I'll pay you tomorrow,' he told the door. Again he tried the knob. Again it remained locked tight. 'What I pay you,' he informed it, 'is in the nature of a gratuity; I don't have to pay you.'
'I think otherwise,' the door said. 'Look in the purchase contract you signed when you bought this apartment.'
In his desk drawer he found the contract; since signing it he had found it necessary to refer to the document many times. Sure enough; payment to his door for opening and shutting constituted a mandatory fee. Not a tip.
'You discover I'm right,' the door said. It sounded smug.