“Trail, nearest chicken-bacon to-go sandwich.”
Andrew’s e-bracelet beeped and his phone vibrated. He stepped lightly aside from the flow of people on he street and pulled his phone from his pocket. The Trail software had accepted the command and overlaid a clear blue path on top of a map of the nearest streets. Andrew skimmed the map and followed the instructions. On a list besides the map were several other suggestions for food on the go but Andrew knew what he wanted, no need to ponder or look around. He stood aside to let a couple of other customers out before entering and walking with sure strides down the aisle to the sandwiches. The Trail map even extended so far as to tell him the shelf he would be looking for. Grabbing two packets for good measure Andrew walked over to the till, paid and then left.
“Trail, nearest computer accessories store.”
Again the software put an overlay over the map, this time showing a longer distance than before. Andrew would be crossing 3 bicycle paths and 2 roads on the way and a bright ? on the path denoted a place of interest. He put one sandwich-packet in his backpack and ripped the other open then set back on his path, walking along the press of people while munching his food. Andrew ate the last of the sandwich as he crossed the second of the bicycle paths. He crumbled up the packaging and made a motion to toss it away before stopping himself.
“Trail, add nearest bin to current route.”
A branch-like network of detours sprouted on the map, each terminating in a little bin-icon. He choose one at random and continued, dumping the sandwich-packaging as he passed the bin. The rest of the way to the computer store was somewhat windy but Trail kept him on the path. The ‘place of interest’ was a large work of graffiti street-art depicting a man, much like Andrew himself, walking through a landscape while using the Trail app. His e-bracelet beeped. The Trail app could use more photos of this ‘place of interest’ so Andrew snapped a quick photo then continued on his way.
He arrived at the store in short order. It was pretty noisy with a bunch of other customers consulting devices as to what hardware or accessory to buy. He was looking for a cover for his own tablet and he already had a specific one in mind. Trail beeped and the aisle and shelf location bloomed up as text on his screen.
He left almost as quickly as he had entered, tablet-cover in his backpack.
“Trail, route to home.”
“Trail, route to home.”
No change. His e-bracelet was dark so he pulled his phone up. Fine reception but Trail couldn’t find any connection to the servers. He pressed the Report Issue button but was met with a similar problem. Andrew looked around him. Several other people had just left the store, each mumbling commands to their app but none seemed perplexed.
He sheepishly approached the nearest person, a man with a baseball cap screwed onto a big head. “Erm, excuse me, is your Trail working?”
Surprise, then confusion spread across the man’s face. “Oh sorry, could you repeat that?”
Hadn’t he listened? “Is your Trail app working?”
The man looked just as confused as before but looked down at his screen then turned it towards Andrew. “Of course it does.”
“Odd, mine can’t connect.” Andrew responded. It seemed clear to him that the man wanted to be away.
“Huh. Well just use the report function.”
Andrew inwardly sighed. “Tried that, same problem.”
“Really? Then search for their customer support number. Can’t be hard to find. Excuse me, I really have to go.”
The man was already turning away before Andrew could respond. “Okay, thank you for your time.” He typed “trail customer support” into the phone’s default search function. ‘+45 46926734’. Came up in bold type straight away. Andrew felt he should be sitting down so looked around. The broad street was choked with people using the side-walks and scattered bicycles ran along the middle but in a narrow bit between the two he could see a wooden bench with a large flowering bush growing around a big net of steel bars. Minding that he was walking cross the flow he hurried over and thumbed the support number into his phone as he sat down.
There was no queue. A womanly voice responded in a friendly, yet professional tone. “Yes this is Karin at the Trail help-desk, how can I help?”
“Erm, yes, my Trail app can’t connect to the servers. I would have used the Report function but that also cannot connect.” For some reason his problem sounded outlandish even to himself.
“Hmm, we have no reported server outages. Okay, if you could give me your phone model and Trail user ID, I’ll see what I can find.”
“Cyborg Ac-model, #242982-1984.”
“Right. It seems your user has been temporarily locked. I apologise, it’s an issue on our end, bug in the new version.”
Okay so it wasn’t some odd signal switch-up from the store. “Okay so what can I do?”
“I can unlock your user straight away, the logs don’t show any activity that should lead to a user-lock. Unfortunately it will take about 30 minutes for the app to register the change.” Karin responded in a tired tone.
“Not to be rude but that seems like a long time for what sounds simple.” Andrew responded, trying to sound jovial.
“It is. I apologise again. If you wish for some refund because of disrupted service I can forward you to our PR people.”
Andrew briefly scanned around him. In the distance the city’s cathedral poked above the skyline, its bell-tower visible almost everywhere. He lived pretty close to that and knew the route from the cathedral square by heart. “Thank you for the offer Karin but it shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Okay, if you change your mind, your case is open for another 5 working days. I hope you have a good day and thank you for calling the Trail help-desk”
Andrew thanked the woman for her help and hung up. The crowd on the side-walks had thinned out a little so he hurried to fold in, walking in the approximate direction of the cathedral. Shortly after he left the cross-section where the computer store was located he passed a side-street that linked two of the larger streets in the city. It was roughly the direction he should be going so he pushed out of the crowd and headed down.
The side-street was a riot of colours. Shop-signs seemingly competed to be the most colourful or gaudy. Clothes on drying-racks and blooming flowers hung from balconies above him. Buildings with red or yellow brickwork were covered in more graffiti, lines of runny paint flowing down from the street-‘art’. Several small eateries were open along this street, the smell of food poking at the hunger he had sated with a sandwich earlier. He stopped several times to look at pizzas, hot-pots and tubs of hot-from-the-fryer chips. He thought of the sandwich unopened in his backpack but quickly felt otherwise. Towards the end of the street he found a narrow shop where the front was a ground-to-roof painting of a bowl of hot noodles with herbs and a whole fried egg on top.
He ordered the one on said cover and got pretty much that. The large bowl was filled near to the brim with noodles, broth, herbs and egg. It was hot and warmed him from the inside quickly on the cold October day. Even though the spices and heat almost scalded his mouth he ate quickly and moved on his way, mentally making a note of where that street was. He kept the direction as best he could but more side-streets and small shops kept distracting him.
Before long, Andrew realised he had arrived back at the graffiti street-art he had passed earlier. Now that he was looking at it again he noted more than on his first passing. The man, with Trail-app n hand, was in grey-scale with no colours, the phone backlit by a grey halo with the windy-path Trail logo. The man was staring at the phone, not noticing the vibrant colourful landscape around him. Small birds and animals of the forest were depicted in moments of movement, flying or leaping about in the flowering bushes and blooming meadows, all of which the man missed by virtue of his staring at the Trail map.
Andrew felt a vibration in his pocket and his e-bracelet lit up. A service-message with the announcement – “Trail service has now resumed. We apologise for the inconvenience.” showed up on his notifications-list. The map from the computer store to his house blinked onto the screen. Andrew looked at it for a moment then his view panned back up, the tall bell-tower of the cathedral peeking up above the skyline of the city. A deft thumb flipped open the active-apps list and closed Trail. He’d know the way.