solaris

Higher and higher female voices are finding an increasing number of ways to communicate with me. They call me in the middle of the morning when I’m expecting my aunt to ring and tell me that they can help me out of my debt problem for free. The call is free too, they say. She says. She says I shouldn’t worry because she’s got the solution and it’s free. She finds me on the train in Liverpool. She says there are delays towards West Kirby. She is polite, lite, friendly and automated. Her words are evenly spaced and her sentences go up at the end. She’s not from Australia, though. She’s English. She says I should mind out for the step at Manor Road. She says there’ll be delays tomorrow. And she’s there again on the way back down to London. She’s automated still, but alive. Her body walks down through the train asking people if they’d “like an upgrade?” Upgrades, she says chirpily, cost fifteen pounds including free refreshments and tea and coffee. She’s our manager. She’s managing our journey and we should go to her with any problems. She turns the heating up and then down, and then someone complains and she turns it up again. In the middle, she says, and giggles. Another lady marches down the corridor hurling packets of red and yellow crisps into our laps. She pours tea, too, and splashes water onto the grey Formica shelves above our knees. She is followed by a man with a shallow voice who gives each of us a packet of milk chocolate biscuits with orange pieces.

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