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not the one with K*m J*ng *n
“I just wanted to congratulate you on making it this far,” she said. “Just getting here must be incredibly validating.”
I nodded blankly. I tried to focus on her face, on her features, to find something distinguishing, but after hours of speaking to Everlane-clad smoothskins with shiny hair, I found my mind looking past her, focusing on the movement of her mouth, trying to hold onto something that would ground me.
“Thanks,” I heard myself saying. “I’m really excited to be part of such a vibrant and emotionally intelligent walkable community.”
A tut. Fuck. She tutted. She looked straight at me. “Well, you’re not through yet.”
“Right, right. Of course.”
“So I thought I could introduce myself and what I’m all about, and then you can give me your spiel.”
“Right, okay, sounds good,” I stammered. I could sense something wrong already. I could feel pity from her, or some sort of vague patronizing energy.
“So, I’m Archita. My husband Roger and I founded The Thriving Hive about four years ago. Do you know why?” She waited.
I waited too, and when it became clear she actually wanted an answer, I felt a hot flash of resentment. “Um—Right. Well, because you were tired of consistent contact with low-agency and emotionally unintelligent people.”
“Well, we try to frame it in positive terms,” she said, with a sugary sweet smile. “We wanted to live in a walkable community of ideas. We wanted to be surrounded by the people who inspired us. Is that so wrong?”
I was caught off guard. I knew The Thriving Hive was controversial in the news and on Twitter, but I’d never met anyone in real life who hadn’t seen the benefits. Why was she asking me? “I’m here for the same reason,” I ventured. “I’m tired of those people. I want to be around my people.”
She nodded. “I see from your resume that you work with marginalized populations.”
“Yes. I’ve worked with Yemenis and Afghanis for years, learning about layouts of buildings, common evasion strategies. Other relevant information.”
“That’s amazing,” she said. “It’s very important that we’re a global community at the Thriving Hive. We actually just got a new international member—he’s from Tel Aviv.”
“Oh, wow, that’s really cool,” I lied.
“He’s introduced us to something called the Mediterranean Diet. It’s supposed to help you live longer. Years longer. So you work on, um, was it battle robots?”
“That’s right! I’m a robotics engineer at Greylock.” 15 more minutes, I thought. I just need a place to live. This is the only apartment available in New York City. Shut up, play by the rules, and you get to live in the world’s most populous, wealthy, and desirable place.
“—and for war, is that right?” Archita was saying.
“Yes, yes, for war.”
“But you’re going to start your own thing?” she asked, as if it were a given.
“Yes, my goal is to be a founder.”
“And in what space? Defense?”
“I was thinking more about the intersection of technology and politics.”
A surprised expression. She leaned forward. “That’s a really interesting intersection to me too. I love that intersection.”
“Yes, me too. I think that if we just introduce technology into politics, that it would—”
“Yes! I agree! If we just made politics more like technology, it would create a solutions mindset instead of a problems mindset. We should just do the thing that data proves we should do, right?”
“Data-driven decision making. That’s what I’ve been saying for years.”
“Wow. It sounds like you really get it,” gushed Archita. “I’ve been talking about data-driven decision making for years. I’m glad it’s catching on. Seems like I’m doing a good job spreading the word.”
“Definitely.” I was bored. I wanted to be at home playing the video game adaptation of Girls that HBO made after the success of The Last of Us. I needed a place to live. “Anything else I should know about The Thriving Hive?”
“We designate one person a month to interact with the Instacart delivery boy. All potential sexual partners must be pre-screened for education and hustle. We’ll need you to build battle robots for us to infiltrate and sabotage our rival walkable high-agency collective, The Friend Ship. And you’ll need to pay one month’s rent up front.”
“Great. All that sounds good to me. How much is the first month’s rent?”
“Awesome. Is Venmo okay?”
Hey……the only walkable community of high-agency people I want to be around is my legion of subscribers to J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s YouTube channel 😂😂😂😂 (Imagine I typed “Wokable” instead of “walkable” and you pronounced it the same way instead of how it looks right now, like “woke-able,” because that would be a completely different thing I think!!)