A/N Once again an APLang assignment. This one is actually a short story.
"Imagine you are Nick Carraway (who is essentially F. Scott Fitzgerald) taking a tour of America today (pre-quarantine of course). Offer your observations, analysis, and criticisms of what you are seeing compared to where you came from (1920's America). You can think of this as a compare and contrast essay from the perspective of Nick Carraway. To complete the assignment you need to remark on 3 things:
One aspect of technology in daily lives
One social activity
One social structure (ie. gender roles, race/ethnicity, wealth and class)
As you are writing, have Nick describe the thing he is seeing, offer some reflection on what he thinks of it, and analyze how it affects the human person."
I found myself in an alley surrounded by the loud bustling of New York City. As I awoke, everything seemed to be a blur, the people on the street at the outside of the alley, the voices, the lights, it all seemed strange. What happened? I'm not quite sure, but something seemed very off. I slowly emerged from the alley to the busy streets of New York City, but was blinded by many many lights, why are there so many lights, and so extremely bright, and there were so many posters, but they were like moving pictures and in color! I was snapped out of my thoughts when a gentleman yelled at me, "Hey! Watch where yer walking, buddy!" So rude, since when were people so rude to strangers, "Please forgive me, sir!" but once I looked up, the man was gone. I must find out where I am and what's going on, New York seems to have changed. I struggled through the crowd to find a shop or a stand with a newspaper. I came upon a small shop that seemed that it might sell newspapers, convenience 24/7 was the name. "Excuse me, sir, but do you happen to sell newspapers?" "A newspaper? Why don't ya just look up news online or something?" "I'm sorry? Here, I have…" I dug through my pockets "Five cents, this should be enough for a paper, you can keep the change." He scoffed "Listen bud, I don't know where ya came from nor do I care, but yer gonna need a lot more than that fer a newspaper!" I was taken aback by how rude this man was, "Could you at least tell me what year it is?" He stared at me in astonishment, "It's March twenty-twenty, where've you been?!" Twenty-twenty… a hundred years in the future! I walked slowly out of the shop, a hundred years… so that's why the city seemed off, of course, there must've been many advancements in the world, I mean, of course there were, it's a hundred years in the future! I suppose as the world progressed, people got much ruder, I would never imagine being that rude to someone! I mean, of course it's New York City, but still, have dignity!
As I was lost to my own thoughts, a gentleman bumped into me, "Oh! I'm so sorry, old sport, are you ok?" "I stared at him, "Yes, sorry, I seem to… be a bit disoriented." "It seems so, old sport, why don't I help you? I know of a good shelter down the street, they can help get you squared away with a nice meal and a warm bed to sleep in." I nodded blankly, he oddly had a striking resemblance to my old friend Gatsby, he even spoke like him. He smiled at me and helped me walk to the destination. I was surprised by his appearance. He looked like he was on his way to or from the pool, he was wearing swimming bottoms that went to his knees and a swim top, for it had no sleeves. He was wearing strange shoes, they almost looked like tennis shoes, but I'm not sure. He also had a small notepad looking thing in his hand with a cord attached to it. The other end had two little balls on it, which, when I had met him, they were in his ears. "So, what's your name?" I looked up at him, for he was much taller than me, "Nick Carraway, thank you very much for helping me, sir." "Oh please, call me Garrett, and think nothing by it, just wanting to help a friend." He said smiling down at me.
As we walked down the street, I saw many people who were dressed like him and had notepads and white cords like him. "I'm sorry, I believe I am still quite confused and would like to ask you a question, please take no offense to it, but why were you at the pool so late?" He looked at me as if I was insane, "The pool?" "Why yes, you are dressed as if you were on your way to or from the pool." "Oh, no old sport, these aren't swim trunks! I was just on a late-night run." "Oh, why would you wear your swimsuit to exercise?" "I-I'm sorry, I'm not sure what you mean, I suppose it does look like a swimsuit." I nodded and continued straight, I didn't want to let on that I was from a hundred years in the past, I didn't want him to think I was insane, he was helping me after all.
We continued to walk down the street and I saw many people with bracelets or watches of some sort. They were square and had different brightly colored bands. But there was something strange about them. I decided to ask Garrett, "Garrett, what are those things on people's arms?" He looked around perplexed, "What?" "The wristbands, or watches, or bracelets, I'm not quite sure how to describe it. The boxes with brightly colored bands." "Oh! Why that's a watch, old sport." "A watch?!" "Why yes, what else would you think it was?" I looked around, dumbfounded. "Are they broken?" He looked around, "No, why would you think such a thing?" "People are tapping them as if they have stopped ticking." "Why, no it's an Apple watch, you know, that connects to your phone and such, to help track your health and such." I stared at him questioningly, but just as I was about to ask him another question, there was a ringing. He sighed, "Please excuse me." He said, putting the cord back in his ears, and speaking. I thought that he was crazy, he was speaking into the air, he was speaking to himself. "...yes dear, I will." He said before turning to me, "Sorry about that, you were saying?" "Huh? Oh, what were you doing just now?" "That? I was just talking to my wife on the phone." "But, how? I don't see a payphone anywhere." "On… my… iPhone? How else would I call someone? I mean, yea we have payphones, but no one really uses them anymore." "Oh, sorry, I suppose I am still a bit disoriented." "It's alright, old sport. Ah! Looks like we're here!" I looked up to see a large brick building in front of me with a large sign, 'Shelter'. "Alright old sport, let's go on in, shall we?" I nodded and followed closely behind him as we entered into the small crowded entrance hall. A middle-aged woman then approached us, "Oh, I'm sorry sir, but we're all full tonight. It's starting to get chillier and it's supposed to rain tonight, so everyone has been coming here, I'm sorry." "That is not a problem, Ma'am, we will find somewhere, thank you very much." She smiled briefly at us before we left.
Once we stepped outside, I felt large drops of water land on my face, it was raining. "We should probably find somewhere inside to get out of the rain." He said looking down at me, I nodded. "Are you hungry, Od Sport?" "Huh? I suppose." "Well, I just mean, it seems to me that I have promised you a warm meal and bed, and it seems that that may not happen. Who knows when we'll be able to find a good shelter that can take you, so I might as well keep at least part of my word, what do you say old sport, why don't I grab you some fast food?" "Fast food?" "Food." "Oh, sorry, yes I would enjoy that very much, I am quite hungry." I said, putting my hand over my stomach. I'm not sure what happened, but who knows when was the last time I ate. As we walked, I noticed all the different signs in the windows of shops, 'fifty percent off all shoes, thirty percent off all dresses…' and so on, which weren't surprising. What surprised me the most was the pictures of the women on the signs. Many were wearing tight pants and short skirts. I was in complete shock, these women might as well have been naked! As I thought further on this, I started to look around at the people on the streets, many wearing similar things. I even saw a woman running on the street with that cord in her ears and wearing swim bottoms and an undershirt! What had happened in the last hundred years, what happened to respect!
We came upon a brightly lit up building that had a large, lit up, yellow 'M' sign, that said 'McDonalds' on it. "Garrett, where are we?" "Why, we're at McDonald's, I said I would get you food, remember?" "This looks more like a toy shop for children." "No, it's McDonald's, you know, most popular fast-food chain?" I thought for a moment, warily I said, "Alright…" As we entered, there was blaring loud music and bright lights, it was as if I was in times square again. I looked at Garrett confused, all he did was walk into a line, "What would you like, old sport?" "I- I'm not sure what they serve here?" "Well look at the menu." He chuckled while pointing to a brightly lit sign that had what I assumed food on the menu. They had strange names and labels, like 'Big Mac'. "I suppose I'll have a burger and water." "Alright." "Here…" I said pulling out twenty-five cents, "I can pay for my own dinner." He looked at me perplexed, "It's… not a problem, old sport… I've got it." When we got to the front of the line, he pulled out what seemed like a business card. This confused me, did something happen with the economy? Did it crash and now there are different forms of payment? There was a box on the counter that he put the card into it and it made a loud obnoxious beeping sound before he put the card back into his wallet. "What's that?" He looked down, wondering what I was speaking about. "What's what?" "That box, that you just put that card in. what is that and why did you put the card into it?" "Oh! To pay, you know, use your card and chip reader to pay." "I-I'm not sure I understand," I said as we walked with a tray of food. "It's like, the money is on the card, and the box takes the money. I'm sorry, I'm not quite sure how to explain this one old sport." "No, that's alright. I'm sorry that I ask so many questions." As we ate, I noticed that the food that we ate tasted terrible. It seemed to have the consistency of mush. The bun was flattened and I wish I hadn't looked inside of the burger, I cannot unsee how disgusting it was. But, I didn't want to seem ungrateful to this kind man for helping me and buying me dinner. There were many strange people in this restaurant, many people wearing provocative clothing and doing strange things. I saw some teenage girls facing the wall and dancing a strange dance, it almost looked like they were beating someone up, throwing what looked like punches at an invisible person. The music that was played in the eating establishment was loud and provocative, speaking about inappropriate things. I wonder why they are playing such provocative music.
After we left the eating establishment, we walked down the street. I saw many people that looked different and strange to me, but what stood out to me most of all was a couple, well I assumed it was a couple, they were holding hands. Why they would do so in public is beyond me, but what stood out to me the most is that the man was black and the woman was white! It surprised me that they would even be together, let alone flaunting their affections in public! They passed by and I fear that I may have looked quite rude, giving them a look. But, I suppose that it's their decision and they can do as they like. I wonder, was there some type of movement or law that happened where the blacks could do as they like. It's like the movement of the women in the 20's who wanted to vote, how silly. After they passed, I started to reflect on the things that I had learned about. Ijad learned about technological advancements like the notebooks, cords, watches, and business cards, which I later learned make people more distracted and oblivious. I had learned things about how society now acts, like gathering to do strange things in eating establishments and eat disgusting foods. I learned that there are now interracial couples and that they show affection in public, which I found out later that this has been normal for years and that it was good. I learned that the styles had changed, that now I suppose women and men now wear their undergarments and bathing suits out and about. I had learned that the economy was extremely expensive. The rent was well over a thousand dollars and a loaf of bread was about two dollars. I had later learned that shortly after the twenties there was an economic crisis that left the country and the rest of the world in economic shambles. As I observed and thought about the societal and technological advances that had happened in the last hundred years, I thought that they seemed helpful in daily life and I was impressed that the human race was able to advance to such things so fast but were they necessary? I know that the societal advances weren't exactly necessary, but the technology. The notepads and the cords were they necessary? I thought upon these things deeply the next few years.
While I was lost in my thoughts I hadn't noticed that we had arrived at the next shelter. We walked into the lobby and Garrett spoke to a woman than came back to me. "Alright old sport, they said they can take you in and help you out." I nodded, "Thank you so much for helping me, I really appreciate it." He nodded. "Hey, old sport," He said rubbing his hand on the back of his neck, "I hope you'll be alright. If… uh… you ever need anything, give me a call, alright old sport." He said handing me a business card. 'Garrett Buchanan, Buchanan Industries' Buchanan, that's the name of Daisy and Tom. It must've been a coincidence. As he walked away, I thought that Garrett must've known that my situation and he must've understood and oddly enough he seemed as though he knew me. I thought that in this strange world of strange, rude people, there must still be some good normal people who are as understanding and kind as Garrett Buchanan.
~10 years later~
Nick was sitting at his desk writing a memoir of his past few years in the twenty-first century. He wasn't able to return to his time, so he had learned to adapt to life in the modern age. He had gotten a job as a journalist and had been able to work hard enough to get enough money to buy a small apartment in the south end and live a quite comfortable life. His phone buzzed and he grabbed it. He still had trouble with technology but was slowly learning to enjoy it. He didn't use it as much as others, but it did sometimes make life easier. He had read the text that was sent to him, 'From: Garrett Buchanan - Hey, old sport! Wanna come on over and look at these old photos?' 'From Nick: Of course!' He had learned recently that Garrett was the grandson of Daisy and Gatsby, that's why he resembled his old friend so much. Garrett had mentioned to him that he had some old photographs of his family and was going to show him. He turned off the lights and happily left his apartment on his bike to converse with his new friend.