Monday, July 13

#28 - time bank


A new business has set up shop on the corner of one of your town's busier intersections. The company bills itself as a "time bank" and intrigued, you pay the location a visit one Saturday afternoon.

Once inside the classy, high-tech interior, you are guided to an open desk of one of the time bank's consultants. After a short amount of small talk, the consultant explains how the bank operates.

Those running the business have pioneered a method by which a person can reclaim (withdraw) time from earlier in their life. These withdrawals can be from a certain time period (the summer months of 1992, for instance), or interestingly enough, tied to specific experiences. The bank consultant throws out the example of piano lessons. If you feel that the piano lessons you were put through as a child were a waste of time, you can reclaim any or all of that time to be applied to other endeavors. The catch is that you will no longer have any memories or skills associated with those times. If you retain any of your knowledge of playing piano, it would be erased once you made the withdrawal (which involves a quick, painless, safe scan of your brain).

Once you have this additional time on your hands, you are somewhat limited in how it can be used. There is no real way for this time to simply be added to the end of your natural life (though the consultant implies that some research was initially done in this area). Instead, the time bank carries an extensive set of "skill cassettes". Your knowledge from the erased time will be replaced by a corresponding amount of knowledge from any combination of these cassettes (which include sports, foreign languages, etc). Though there are some differences, the process is likened to what was shown in the original Matrix film. An important factor to bear in mind when making these selections is that you will be limited by your own mind and body. The tapes will not have the same effect on every individual. If you are not naturally predisposed to excelling at golf, it would take a longer time with the golf cassette for you to fully internalize its contents.

There is a nominal fee associated with setting up an account and doing business at the time bank, but it does not strike you as an unreasonable amount. You take some of the available literature and head home to ponder the possibilities.

Do you return to the time bank? Before you left, the bank agent made a point to caution you as to how you make your selections. Any memories (including places or people) associated with the withdrawn time will cease to exist in your brain, so there is the possibility of altering relationships in ways that would be difficult to predict.

3 comments:

Holly said...

On a practical, non-philosophical level, I would say I'd want to trade my time on swim team in high school for time invested in soccer. In 9th grade I had to choose between the two (whereas I had done both before), and I think I chose wrongly. I found out quickly that I will never be a spectacular swimmer. As an athleticly-built 5-footer, I think soccer held more promise for me.

On a more personal/thoughtful level, I would say that I would trade all of the fights/nasty comments that I directed toward others (especially family members), particularly in my 13-21 year range. They might be like 5-cent deposits here and there, but my guess is they would add up pretty quickly considering the mouth I had on me during those years. I'd probably trade them for some type of positive, healthy ways to deal with conflict tapes. Who knows if they would have worked, but it would be worth a shot.

Derek said...

Oh I'd go back pretty quickly, I think.

I would ask if they could, with some specificity, target the 11ish-12ish time slot on Sunday mornings, from about the time I was 10 or so, until I was about 22.

More often than not, I wasn't paying too terribly much attention anyway, and if they could just target that bit, I wouldn't actually lose memories of experiences or friends, et cetera.

If they only took 40 per year, that would amount to something like 480 hours!

That should be more than enough credit to have "skill cassettes" that would amount to impressive proficiency at sign language, for starters. It would also be cool to gain knowledge that I would rather have been learning, in hindsight. A firm over-arching grasp of the history of philosophy would be pretty great. Oh! I'd want a whole ton of astronomy, too.

Matt said...

Hmm, his is a really tough one.

It's hard for me to pin down a particular experience or time for this, and I'd be worried about accidentally removing memories that would affect things.

However, I might investigate elementary or middle school, any overlap in school subjects that I took. For instance, the few weeks in a class that were just a review of the previous class or year. I've probably forgotten so much of that stuff anyhow.