I bought the newspaper out of pity before I boarded the local. It felt thin, and looked like nothing new. I swiped my card near the fare box and at the same time watched myself do so on a monitor showing me from behind, shot by the camera above the door. Other cameras grabbed me from other angles and built a composite that would have been recognizable to anyone who knew me. I took my seat opposite a fidgety man with very big hair parted awkwardly. Monitors throughout the car showed other passengers taking their seats on this train and others, and sports stars being interviewed about off-the-field infractions, and luxury items, and frivolous foods. One showed my wife getting off a Number 7 train with overflowing shopping bags, in surveillance grays, from her good side. Predictions in the paper were dire. Apparently pension payments to municipal workers were causing a budget shortfall; the clear remedy was that they should give them up. The nation’s youngest fashion designer, age 8, was asked about her influences. On the next page, looking fidgety even in his photograph, the man with big hair was interviewed about losing his job to reverse discrimination. The poor sap, he looked it. I would have fired him too. I stared at him until he moved and watched him fade on the monitors. My own story, however, was not accurate. The picture of me getting off a train had been retouched, I believe, to make me look forlorn. The details of the stock transactions had me placing bets no sane investor would ever have risked; the whole thing lacked credibility. The hat I wore, for instance, did not look right for senior management, but I knew where I could buy one. I got off one stop early.

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