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The car stopped at the red light. Presley Gauguin looked at the time on the dashboard. The heat flowed and the rider’s favorite station continued to play.
“Sure is getting cold out here. It is January, though. You think that we’ll have any snow this winter?” rider Dred Hastings asked.
“I’ve received weather alerts to that effect,” Gauguin said.
“You will arrive at your destination in five... minutes,” the computer system announced.
“Damn thing. I keep forgetting to turn it off,” Gauguin said.
“I don’t mind it. It allows me to gauge my time.”
“You’ve got a smartwatch for that, no?” Gauguin asked.
“I sure do and it’s synched up with this particular ride.”
The car stopped at an industrial park.
Okay, Gauguin thought, I’ve had the heat up, his favorite tunes blasting, and a somewhat chummy discourse. My tip has got to be substantial.
“Thanks sir, and enjoy the winter season.”
Gauguin waved at the passenger exiting his vehicle. He then pulled out his smartphone.
“One... dollar. The lousy thing about it all is that I’ll have to pick him up tomorrow! Or maybe not…”
He sent: “Yes, Mr. Hastings. It’s been a pleasure being your driver, however, I will no longer be providing such services. Best, Presley Gauguin.”
Gauguin felt a jolt of energy like a battery had just switched on his mind. He started peeling off the decals that represented the ride-hailing company. The realization that self-driving cars would be taking over soon propelled him. He drove home with a smile plastered on his face.
Once he had arrived at his house in Newark, Delaware, he posed like a golf player hitting an eagle. His arm curled and he brought one knee towards the ceiling.
Soon his wife, Kalia Gauguin, redbone with blonde hair, arrived from the hospitality service on their property downstate.
They met each other at the kitchen island. They stared at each other. Then they plopped their heads to one side.
“The two of them were phantasms of ill will,” Kalia said.
“My passenger wasn’t so hot either. Remember being a kid and having to shovel snow?”
“Yes. It was a rather lucrative business for me. I was among the only girls in my neighborhood who dispensed with the white stuff,” Kalia said.
What if we give up the ride-hailing and hospitality service and just shovel driveways for the rest of the winter?” Gauguin asked.
“And what will we do for the remaining months? Cut grass?”
“No, we can start our own business. Our own car and house services.”
“Okay. I’ve noticed that in the forecast there will be a northeaster carrying at least seven inches of snow. But where will we find the most substantial amounts of money in this state?” Kalia said. Then her mind shifted into high gear and her eyes lit up.
“Alapocas!” the couple said together. They kissed.
On the day of the snowstorm, robots had been doing most of the work that the humans had done for centuries. Gauguin and Kalia ventured to the scene of sprawling lawns and gigantic homes. They had brought a snowblower, two shovels, and six bags of salt in their pick up truck. But they soon experienced dejection.
“The robots have done a sufficient job already,” Gauguin said.
“Yes. We should admire it,” Kalia said.
Then she looked off into the distance and discovered a sizable estate that’s driveway and sidewalk had been untouched.
“Look over there. That occupant must’ve never owned a robot.”
The couple ventured over to the house. The snow made it look like an ice castle. They cleared a path to the front door.
After a few rings, an old woman named Delia Van came to the door.
“What is it?” she asked.
“We would like to clear and salt your property, ma’am.”
“Okay.” She then shut the door.
Gauguin and Kalia finished in just under one hour and sought to claim their pay. The door opened. “Here,” Delia said.
She handed them both tax forms and checks equaling 1,200 dollars each.
“But we usually…” The door slammed shut.
“It is the season for taxes,” Kalia said.
“Maybe this will be the last season for income taxes.”