Coming to work always made me aware of self-euthanasia.
Every quarterly meeting, a few people who had been there before were not there. No one needed to say anything, we all knew what happened. It wasn’t as if they had gotten a better job offer. In this economic climate, people were placed where they were needed to add to society. If you weren’t adding to society then you were simply consuming resources. Taking without giving anything back was disrespectful to your community. Self-euthanasia gave an option to those without an option. You may not be able to control anything else about your life, but you could control when you ended it.
Patriotic, even, if you think about it.
I walked the three blocks from the train station to our office headquarters. I pulled out my phab, waving it in front of the solar glass. The door slid open.
They’d stopped calling it suicide as more and more citizens began to choose this option. Suicide had a bad connotation and the government had asked the media to rebrand it. They couldn’t stop citizens from doing it but maybe by normalizing it, they could take some of the morbidity out of it.
Was it so bad? Maybe. And, a long time ago, suicide was not something a large percentage of the population generally took part in. Back then, the idea of someone taking their own life was something that made people wonder why and shake their heads. I could see how. The options were so much more gruesome and rudimentary then. They had so much to live for. I would shake my head too.
Times had changed. There was not that much to live for and options had become so much more humane. Resource management became the mitigating factor. It was why we no longer maintained the prison system. There was no reason to justify exhausting resources on individuals who were not only not adding to society, but actively taking from it. They didn’t get a choice, euthanasia was the sentence.
It was also why self-euthanasia was a crime for those who could procreate. Fertile individuals did not get the choice. Of course, it got a little muddy when criminals who were fertile broke the law but fertility always won. I’m not sure how that worked in the birthing centers if they separated the criminals from the general population. But, that wasn’t ever going to be my problem.
For every day, regular citizens, like me, self-euthanasia was an option. We weren’t allowed to marry, due to the Mandate, therefore no one had a family to mourn them. No one had a lot of money, so if by some miracle there was something left when you expired; it was reabsorbed by the city. No one was going to save the world because it was too daunting. No one believed in God because he had left us a long time ago. With the end of humanity looming, self-euthanasia was not a bad thing. It didn’t make anyone wonder why. I didn’t ask why when my mom chose it.
My mother had self-euthanized five years ago.
She had been an excellent rule follower. She had gotten the appropriate doctor confirmations since anyone classed fertile had to get permission before self-euthanizing. She had all the correct legal documents. She had a lawyer tie up all the loose ends.
She hadn’t even told me she’d been thinking about it.
I received an email notification the morning after she opted to self-euthanize, from her lawyer, explaining her decision and why she was completely justified in it. Then he outlined the distribution of her meager tangible assets as all monetary assets were to be donated to the city. It was a bit of an unusual situation for him as most women who had children these days never knew them personally as a result of the streamlining of the birthing center process over the years.
It was conducted exactly the way she would have done it as if she had been alive, no more or no less; she did only what she needed to do to satisfy her obligations.
I had hated her legalism. Hate might have been harsh, but I definitely didn’t respect her blind adherence to duty.
“We do it because we have to” she had always said.
You can’t be angry with someone who does everything they are supposed to do, can you? I don’t know. I would never tell anyone that, as that might be flagged as a treason marker.
My mother had been a law abiding citizen all the days of her life. She was within her every right to self-euthanize. She did it in the legal and prescribed manner. She took responsibility for her estate and its distributions. She was no longer consuming resources. There was nothing I could fault her for. Not one thing.
But what about me? Had it not occurred to her that I would be left alone? Was she not bothered by that? Had she no obligation to me? Maybe that was what I hated. Maybe that was why she was so ambivalent. The situation dictated that there was nothing for her to look forward to. I was not going to procreate. She had done her job. I was an adult who no longer required her assistance. We had reached the end of the line. What else is there to do at the end of the line?
But, it’s like she had never wanted to be here. She had just punched her card and made an appearance because she was told she had to.
True, she had lived long enough to give me the benefit of the doubt, which was dutiful. It was kind of her wait an obligatory amount of time after my first inconclusive diagnosis at seventeen. She didn’t have to do that. Some girls I’d known, once their mothers had been told of their daughter’s inconclusive diagnosis they scheduled had their self-euthanasia shortly thereafter.
It wasn’t all that surprising that most of those girls followed their mother’s example before they were twenty.
Statistically, if you could make it to thirty your likelihood of you of self-euthanasia went down. Not by much, women still hovered at a high percentage, but it was less than that of our younger counterparts.
But, after all, the chemicals, hormones, pressures of the Mandate, never being enough and the self-imposed mental anguish we all felt… most women just quit. For womb and county, I suppose.
This melancholy I felt reminded me that this was my reality.
The office I reported to was a large room with a few doors that led to smaller offices. Half a dozen similarly clad people were sitting in the chairs; headphones in and heads down, tap, tap, tapping away on their phabs. It was quiet.
I sat down next to a young man I didn’t recognize. He was in his twenties, jaw slack and just as pale and skinny as the rest of us. His eyes were fixed on his phab’s small screen.
There were only two people I didn’t recognize at this meeting. Not a bad quarter, I thought. It helped that this wasn’t an election cycle; there was always more self-euthanasia during an election cycle.
I had communicated with nearly all of these people online; I recognized most of them from their profile pics and having been to previous meetings but no one ever spoke to each other at the meetings. Then there were the agoraphobics who couldn’t even make it in, this meeting was being streamed live to accommodate them.
Human interaction was always encouraged whenever possible. Numerous studies had concluded that people seemed to live longer when they were “involved in community”. Work was the easiest de-facto community officials could create guidelines for. With the volatile weather patterns, most people just kept to their apartment buildings only leaving if it was absolutely necessary. It was a solitary existence really only offset by online interactions.
My boss got up a few minutes after we were supposed to start and stammered away. A few employees took out their headphones to listen.
It was safe to say that if these co-workers of mine were the only ones I was relying on for a sense of community, I would have self-euthanized years ago.