dog talking on phone What does a cute dog on the phone have to do with service stations of the future? Bear with me: I hope you’ll like the journey and its destination.     

I barely remember the service stations of old. I can pull up small, distant memories of 33 cent gasoline, the Sinclair dinosaur, Phillips 66 signs, and service station attendants who washed the windows, filled the tank, and helped in emergencies. I remember driving to Palm Springs with my grandmother and a sandstorm that pitted our windshield and forced us to stop at one such station in Whitewater. I recall a trim, neat guy in a white short-sleeved shirt and sharply-creased navy blue trousers helping us. His name was embroidered on the chest as I recall. Maybe it was “Joe” or “Frank.”

The gas station attendant in my memory was probably a TV guy and the real guy was grizzled and sweaty, with a pre-pop-top beer can in his hand. As a child, I was instinctively fearful of big sweaty men who reeked of beer. My grandfather Bampy was always neat and clean-shaven and kindly-eyed.

Was I wrong to think that way? Don’t judge me.

And that’s the first thing I see for the future. The judgy among us will themselves be judged. It will be for many, a sweet reckoning, like a cold, refreshing dish of berry sorbet after a long, forced, tasteless meal of their least-favorite foods.

I was half-inclined to judge the uninspiring and sad list of female futurists I just reviewed, but their slavish adherence to 20th century norms like branding and marketing is their problem: not mine or yours.

So, about this futurism game. What is it? Is it predicting the future? Is it forecasting? Or is it driving today’s trends? Is it just all about money — or is control and power the game?

I think all of us with common sense know that to achieve an ultimate or long-term goal, vision, planning and strategy are essential. And there’s no accident the image on this post is a dog talking on an old-fashioned phone. Again — don’t judge me! It’s not like there are thousands of license-able images of dogs talking. There aren’t.

But there will be. Someday. That’s the vision. Dogs can talk and humans will have acquired the amazing superpower of listening.

So, about this future thing. Many of us have been in abusive relationships, and we’ve also endured trauma. Often, these trends occur on the job, every day. May I have a show of hands for how many of us have spent years working in jobs we hate to support our families?

OMG thank you so much! I know how you feel.

Are we the work we do, or are we who we are? What I’m talking about is the intersection between aspiration and life, and someone else’s aspirations, needs, and life. I estimate it took me about a decade to understand the true meaning of Mike Rowe’s message about the value of “dirty jobs.”

Mike says, “People who do ‘dirty jobs’ are the happiest people I’ve ever met.” Road-kill picker-uppers whistle while they work, he adds.

Many people don’t mind doing hard, dangerous, difficult jobs as long as they can have the life they want for themselves and their families. It can be rewarding to do a job where you’re not actively abused, as long as your paycheck covers what it needs to cover and you have your off-the-job time for yourself and your family and friends.

So, what’s the problem?

Paycheck doesn’t cover what it needs to cover. You don’t just have to clean other people’s feces off toilet seats, you have to run away from a sex pest boss. You don’t just have to pick up road kill, you have to avoid a psycho supervisor whose life is dedicated to creating the most miserable workplace in history.

And some jobs exist and some people do them, and do them very well, but we’d all rather that someday, they didn’t have to exist: like counselors for abused children and homicide detectives.

I woke this morning and thought about an article I recently read by this futurist guy who I don’t think has to scrub other people’s feces — and who I think gets featured by the genius mid-century smarties at Medium because he is so, so smart —

Rich People are Leaving the Cities and Isolating

So the gist of this article was that the richies are escaping crowded cities full of COVID by moving to safe places like isolated forest retreats in Switzerland or France. Or, I thought, they are constructing self-contained, gate-guarded enclaves in beautiful and unspoiled farmland like Maha in Guenoc Valley. Among this development’s many charms, it promises, “With its development, Lotusland is honoring the area’s lushness and history while infusing it with luxury.” Maha is a 22,000 acre property, located on a massive ranch formerly owned by the 19th century actress Lillie Langtry — which I suspect is a story in and of itself — approximately the same size as Disney World in Florida. Maha: Disney World for the cultured! And don’t miss its multi-million-dollar mansions, with their own power, own water and — if the plan comes to fruition — own organic, sustainably-grown food.

Yes, the wealthiest will retreat and already are retreating from the diseased, violent, rioting cities to their own special paradise, living out the lives of their dreams. They already brag of this! There are countless well-off people shaming others for leaving their homes during COVID … to bring them their specially-prepared meals of grass-fed organic beef and organic baby veggies and fruit.

And as I lay there thinking about Douglas Rushkoff’s articles and about the images and thoughts I’ve had in my head over the past year or so — images I barely have words to describe —


Science fiction and futurism is about “What if?”

And it’s happening: right now!

It’s literally a dream come true, but we’ve all been living in a nightmare so powerful that …

OK, so picture yourself — you are in an awful job working for a boss you hate or you’re in a relationship with an abusive partner who makes you feel like crap every day — just picture this for yourself, and I’m going to tell a story because I love this idea so much and I want so much for it to come true, and once you hear, I think you will, too …

When Your Prayers are Answered

Years ago I had this friend named Pat Furfari. Pat was a retired USAF master sergeant and he was my counterpart at the United Way in San Bernardino. I was the campaign and communications person at the United Way in Redlands. I was just a girl in my early 20s. Pat was old enough, obviously, to be my dad. And at first we hated each other because our United Ways were supposed to be “enemies.” And, it was mostly about money because most of the money came from Norton AFB. At the time, it was still an active base, so the CFC (Combined Federal Campaign) was big stuff. Millions of dollars.

Pat was one of the hardest-working guys I ever knew. And over time, as I got to know him, I came to respect him and started to like him, and I think he probably also liked me. Pat  was honest, moral, and loyal, but his boss wasn’t. His boss, I’ll call him “Don,” was constantly stabbing Pat in the back at every opportunity. He also didn’t pay him well, and didn’t ever thank, recognize, or reward him. He actively took credit in public for work that Pat had done. Over and over again.

Oh! Did I tell you Pat was a Sicilian and a devout Catholic?

So one of the most shocking moments of my life occurred one day when Pat confided that he had prayed every day that about his bad boss “Don.”

“Every morning I light a candle,” Pat said, “and I pray that he’ll suffer a heart attack.”

His black eyes were absolutely opaque, and his voice had dropped to a low, raspy whisper. It was a moment straight out of The Godfather or Goodfellas.

Pat and I had this chat on a Thursday or Friday. When I got into my office the following Monday, my very good, wonderful boss (who had also been oppressed by “Don”) called me into his office and told me we had some campaign events to do we hadn’t planned on, because … wait for it …

“Don” was in intensive care — he had suffered a massive heart attack. His condition was “grave.”

My next conversation with Pat was something, that’s all I’ll say. And we remained friends for many years. I never wanted to do anything to offend Pat.

Can you guess the implications of this small human drama to our present circumstances and future? Whether old “Don” had a heart attack because Pat had had enough and was praying for it, or he had it because he was so old, mean, nasty, narcissistic and so much of an asshole that his coronary arteries finally clogged up with pure meanness, bile and cholesterol, will never be known, and doesn’t matter.

“Don” was out of the picture, allowing normal, decent people to go on with their lives.

Let’s Party Hearty!

To my leftist friends: why go to all the trouble and bother of guillotines if the problem people are going to self-isolate and remove themselves from society?

What if — you were in an abusive relationship or horrible job — and your abuser had a heart attack, like old “Don”? Wouldn’t that be a dream come true?

It is coming true. The rich and privileged are self-isolating and want to establish their own communities, or they want to live in isolation.

Good for them: let them go to it.

Robots Will Take Our Jobs: Awesome!

How many times have you heard, “Robots will take our jobs.” It’s like a prayer. So if this prayer comes true, so what? You mean that people actually WANT to physically clean feces off toilet seats just so they can eat and pay their bills?

Hardly. Although I do think the “Dons” of the world should do some of that for a while, like maybe six months, so they understand what it is to do a dirty job and have the opportunity to improve themselves and maybe, realize what happiness is — and that it’s not bullying or oppressing others 24-7.

Make Your Own Future

Here’s the great part about our “bad boss” problem solving itself as rich, white elites self-separate from the rest of society.

Now, this allows the rest of us to do things better. My distant memory of working with Pat Furfari was that our two fundraising organizations, instead of competing for donor dollars, started to be able to work together, since old “Don” wasn’t backstabbing and encouraging enmity. The results were not only smoother, better workdays for all of us, they included a lot more money for both of our communities.

This will happen in every field, but let’s hope that charitable fundraising will not be needed in the future, because people will have their basic needs met and lack of basics will no longer be leverage to force people to do as abusers demand.

Heretofore, we have had science done largely by people who’ve never confronted a genuinely serious personal problem in their lives. We’ve had managers directing huge staffs who were raised to bully their less-favored or female siblings and who had every conceivable thing provided to them by indulgent parents and who received top grades in school for “C” level work. We’ve had business concepts created by people whose motives are solely to acquire money and power for themselves, personally.

The learning of the future, the evolution of the future, is going to be about what people will do and how they will do it once the bad boss leaves the building.

They’re leaving right now, so what is your future dream?

Service Stations, Again, Really?

I am now about 25 businesses into my second edition of business planning and consulting. That’s not very many. But — I have not talked to a single person whose business model is “I want to make as much money for myself as possible! To h**l with everyone else!”

Everyone is concerned about sustainability for themselves, their business, their relationships with others, and about the environment and human rights. Everyone, and unlike a lot of “futurists” and “experts,” I worked before with businesses all over the world and continue to do so. I work and worked with male and female founders, and with people from many parts of the world.

Not one of them is going, “My CEO model is Jeff Bezos!” or “I want to model after Elon Musk”. I decline to work with people who want to “brand” themselves. I can’t stand marketers who think they can create a message first, then shove it down everyone’s throat.

So, why was I writing about service stations?

Well, that may be a story for another day. In rural areas, the service station is not dead.

Look – there’s even a Garden Shop!

Now I think we all know that gasoline-powered cars won’t be on the roads forever, nor will diesel-powered trucks. I’m thinking that in the future where dogs may be answering something like a phone and uttering the thoughts out loud that those of us with eyes, ears and hearts can so clearly perceive in their eyes and bodies, there will be “service stations” and there will be people who do help travelers, just like that friendly guy did many years ago, when my grandmother and I were on the way to Palm Springs. But not fill up the tank with petrol (love you, UK). Maybe a power-up, a rest, and then on your way again.

Maybe the helper at the station won’t even be a person. Maybe this will be a service station in the stars. And what sort of Garden Shop would it have?

It’s up to a future entrepreneur to decide. And let’s hope he or she is more like Pat, me, or you, than he is like old “Don” or Jeff Bezos.

There are many thousands of entrepreneurs like that right now and the bad guys’ and abuser’s time is coming to an end. They are self-separating from society and may Grace be with them.