An ordinary cabin of an ordinary passenger jet. Stewards serve drinks, etc. The voice from the dynamic: "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We will land in JKF International Airport, New York in about 15 minutes. The temperature in the airport area is 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Please fasten your seat belts."
Next scene: The control tower of JFK. Camera goes down and shows that the tower sits deeply in the water. Then we see the terminals, actually only their tops with hydro-planes parked at the gates.
Because of the green-house effect and industrial pollution and collisions with meteors and two hundred other reasons, the temperature on the Earth rises. The Antarctic ice melts and the ocean water rises. The cities built at the sea level, like New York, have to be either abandoned or adjusted to the Venice-style life.
Street traffic in Manhattan looks exactly the same way, but instead of cars there are boats. "Yellow cab" company decided to keep its name. The same meters for boats, "no standing 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.", etc. Police are trying to organize traffic without much success. Bigger boats (busses) have to stand in the same traffic jams. For the needs of the public transportation, the city uses second-hand nuclear submarines (a rather good deal, as long as Pentagon stays over the sea level). The submarines cruise along the former subway routes: "This is the 6th Avenue express service. The next stop will be 42nd street".
Pedestrians have to be more patient. They can walk along metal walkways, similar in structure to the existing fire exits. At the crossings small draw bridges go down with the "walk" sign. However, the most impatient ones have small water shoes - two micro boats for the left and right feet. These guys mess up the traffic even more. This is one of the problems for the City Council - what to do with tens of thousands of "Jesuses".
The office life runs the old way. The standard office games, "politics", gossips, stupid blond secretaries, bosses demanding overtime for no particular reason, etc. Because the water level keeps rising, the safest place within a corporation is the top floors of a skyscraper, while the lowest level employees have to be laid off. Under such circumstances the expression "This order comes from the top" acquires not an idiomatic, but literal meaning. The usual war between departments for the office space became the matter of vital importance. The higher the skyscraper was built in the middle of the XX century, the more powerful the company turns out to be now. The Twins and Empire State Building are still the symbols of the New York City.
Lobbies of the office buildings are not on the first floor, obviously, but elevator shaft goes down to the first floor anyway. This is why each company has appointed a CLO - Chief eLevator Officer (this abbreviation is a gift from the Chicago people to the Big Apple). The main task of CLO is to make sure that electronic equipment of each elevator blocks the movement of an elevator below the water level. This is a vitally important position, and that is why heads of Security and Fire Departments report to CLO.
In our company such misfortune did happen once. An elevator full of people carrying their lunches from the cafeteria went wrong way deep into the water and got stuck there. The new improved construction of elevator cars keeps air inside at the top, so people can breeze for a while. The telephone in the elevator worked, however, so they managed to report the problem right on time. Our brave CLO first thought it was a practical joke, but after some reflection rushed downstairs and dived into cold water saving the whole car of people and risking his own life. Of course, the future love of his life was inside the elevator. They worked next door to each other for many years, but only noticed each other after this disaster. CLO was sued for gross negligence, and she helped him out, explaining that because of his being so courageous no harm was done: "-After all, the air in the elevator cabin was good and fresh".
A bit more on the city geography. As always, the most expensive apartments are in the highrises - Midtown, Downtown, Central Park West, Upper East Side. Most of the Manhattan ground is below the water level - except for Washington Heights, which significantly improved. Most folks now live in New Jersey with its regular, old fashioned streets. Because New York bridges (except for the George Washington Bridge) are ending up in the water on one end, they were converted into piers - one can park his regular car on the bridge and jump into the city boat. Those bridges that ended up having two ends in the water are converted into city parks. In particular, Central park had moved to the Verrazano Bridge.
Chinatown survived, surprisingly. They imported one million of jonkas from motherland China and all stayed afloat.
The protagonist is coming from a "dry" area. He is looking for an apartment close to the office, meeting his landlady, buying a boat. He first tries to take his boat to the office in the mornings, but can't park it ... insurance issues ... He rents a boat, then finally switches to a commuter boat, which was originally a military boat, but now carries commercials all over the place. Boat stops look like your old manholes.
The protagonist works in the headquarters of an air balloons manufacturer as a statistical team manager in the marketing department of the Balloons-for-Grown-ups division. His name is Jack, he is single and he had successfully worked elsewhere before.
Jack falls in love with the Long Island area manager of underwater balloons. They take several elevator rides without noticing each other. At one point the elevator goes under water. He is trying to be a hero, open the door and break out of the elevator, but she stops him fearing for his life.
After being saved from the elevator disaster, she invited him to
take a walk in the park in the Long Island (he did not realize
that it was an underwater park, where people are only allowed to
stick their heads out of the water in designated places), and on
the way there they had to pick up Taffy (he thought it would be a
poodle, while it turned out to be a sea turtle pet).
In the park she will be enthusiastically showing him some scary cuttlefish, while he will better like the small bright fish that swim by.
Apartment in two levels. The bedroom is on the lower lever below the water level. First she is feeding him seafood hinting that the next thing to look at will be her bedroom downstairs. Then she takes him downstairs, it turns out to be all water and she insistently invites him to swim. The are having sex, naked but hardly visible. She is very graceful and slender, he is very awkward and constantly has to swim out to catch his breath, which is taking longer every time. The turtle is circling around them.
She is dragging him up the staircase, he is shabby and spent, she is beaming and beautiful. She is trying to pull him into the bathroom, he is resisting violently, because he hates to get back into water again, but there he finds hot air shower. It looks like a regular shower, she opens the tap, switches it to the red mark, and dryer comes on.
Bathroom: sun bathroom under beams of light.
In the morning he is presenting her a pot of flowers growing in the soil.
During the lunch they are going up to the terrace, find a quiet spot under a palm tree and, in beautiful harmony, start dreaming of how they are going to create a family and build a house, without ever noticing that their dreams - his "land" dream and her "water" dream - have got not nothing in common. He is eating a hamburger, she - pizza.
In the corporate life she will also be fairly successful; he - not quite so, though he can in principle make it with some effort.
It is morning and they wake up in his bed. He starts getting dressed and is at the same time telling about an important meeting.
She says she has got a surprise for him. When he is just ready to put his tie on, she presents him a tie with a tiny turtle, which is otherwise a perfectly normal tie. He says he likes the tie and the turtle and keeps putting his old one on. She is very surprised. He freaks out and explains her that he cannot attend this particular meeting in a turtle tie. The get into an argument. They take a submarine to the office and sit with their backs to each other.
Argument during lunch on the same terrace.
He is accusing her of being solid and cold, as a turtle,
instead of being aerial, as a bird. She claims that he only likes
to think he is aerial, while in fact he is stiff and
They are eating identical sandwiches.
She is swimming lonely in her bedroom.
He cannot make himself comfortable in the big bed in which they slept together.
She makes fire in the fireplace, the fire is getting bigger and bigger, so that it looks like it is going to turn into a house fire, but the next thing the emerges instead is that she is walking in a traditional American land park, the Central Park on Verrazano Bridge.
He is jumping with a parachute. Something is preventing him from pulling the ring - it turns out to be a parachute for left-handed. By incident, he falls into a river.
Encounter in the elevator. They are moving into the opposite corners, but are watching each other.
They start calling each other at the same moment. Mess and confusion with the phone lines. They are telling how they cannot live without each other, and tell each other how they have spent yesterday.
Night New York on the water, fireworks, the camera shows skyscrapers, water, reflected flashes, they are hugging, swearing to love each other forever, and at the last moment there is an allusion to the first palm tree, i.e. the fact that their ideas of happiness remain irreconcilable.
Jack gets a temporary pass and attends orientation. He is listening to a lecture on the company values, watching a movie about balloons and getting samples of all imaginable balloons. TV commercial - the company values displayed on balloons.
He is taken on a tour of the building and issued a new pass.
He goes into his boss's office and learns where his cubicle is.
The meeting. The boss tells Jack that he will receive full support of the management, how pro-active he should be, how utterly important his future achievements and new fresh ideas bringing performance to the new heights are going to be...
Jack is a manager of a team of two analysts
A - nice guy, somewhat a ninny, diligent, has got some common sense (will honestly answer the question of a big boss when the scandal looms large)
B - wicked guy, wants to take Jack's position, plays dirty office games (the manager is saved)
Jack is asking his subordinates and colleagues detailed questions about where to get the information and, in the meanwhile, gets to know the director of Balloons-for-Grown-Ups. All answers are verbose and totally confusing. He goes to the enthusiastic boss with the same questions. The boss tells him that this is exactly what Jack has been hired for. Jack says OK, let us collect all the information there is.
Jack and his team alone in the building late at night.
The diligent subordinate is checking the print-out against the screen. The office-games player is reformatting the table at the same time and then calls the first one, who now has to start all over again.
Samples of moronic behavior.
Collage of many days and nights, everything is a mess, unfinished sandwiches, waste paper basket gets full and emptied, a flood of documents, paper cups, sandwich wraps etc.
Jack is alone. He is swamped with print-outs and documents. He calculates something on a big computer, gets a negative amount, re-calculates, looks amazed, rights down this amount (a large negative one) at the end of the print-out, circles it, turns round and round in his armchair, gets back to the amount and puts several exclamation marks next to it.
The meeting. Plenty of issues. Everybody is talking: we have been working on this project, we have made significant progress, our contractors have never provided us with all the necessary information and that is why we have never got to finish the project, but we are working on it (several people are saying the same thing). The boss: you have only contacted such and such people, now you also need to reach such and such people and demand that they do it, you all contact wrong people instead of just picking up the phone and calling the general manager, and then use your judgment, and don't forget I am always here to make the decision ...
Two or three essentially identical episodes that differ in plot and length, that all boil down to "use your judgment, and don't forget I am always here to make the decision".
Jack gets up: We have conducted an extensive research and made significant progress. I would like to made a brief slide presentation of the results (the others look surprised). In dead silence, he presents the results, largely in Newspeak. At the end he says that something needs to be done.
Complete shock, it takes the boss 20 seconds to clear his conscious memory of what he has just heard and deliver his normal response: keep working, you should be more proactive, you should make your own decisions ...
Visit to the director of Balloons-for-Grown-Ups
Jack: I'd like to discuss the new brand, I came up with some interesting results.
D.: OK, shoot it.
J: Here are some calculations and numbers, the brand production should be cancelled.
D.: It is a very interesting question, we will analyze and use the results of your research.
J: Are you still planning to go ahead with the production?
D: Yes, we have made significant progress, it will be a huge success.
J: It is going to be a disaster.
D: Your opinion is extremely important to us, I find this discussion very helpful, your opinion will be given the most serious consideration, please keep working on your project ...
Visit to the supervisor - director of market research (spontaneous, enthusiastic idiot).
Jack: I have been trying to clarify an important issue, but I
have an impression that he does not realize just how important
this new information is and will not have enough time to make the
right decision while the production can still be called off. I am
asking you to help me to make clear how important our analytical
conclusions are, otherwise what do we need the team of analysts
Boss: The analytical team is vitally important. Should make all possible and impossible efforts. You should give me a more detailed report to this effect.
Collage. Jack brings the report and is told that it is printed on a wrong printer in a wrong format, and that rows and columns that were switched around should be switched back. Asks every superior how it is going, using all possible means of communication: personally, via e-mail, in the elevators, at the meeting, by voice mail, through the inter-office mail.
Everybody tells him "Thank you very much for letting me know. It is extremely important to us. We are working on it." Also: "We should discuss this some time over lunch" (colleagues brand managers).
Two supervisors at lunch. First about wives, children, dogs,
jokes. Then they discuss Jack in the most marvelous expressions,
his being hyperactive and showing initiative ... also as far as
the corporate values are concerned... Bright guy.
- shouldn't we give him another challenging assignment?
- they are discussing how useful it is for an employee to widen his understanding of the company and for the company to use the existing talents.
Director of the Analytical Department: I have been just thinking about such project.
Director of the Analytical Department suggests that Jack take care of balloons sales in Brazil.
Jack: but the decision has not been made yet!
Director: you have provided us with all the necessary information. The management is extremely pleased with your work.
Meeting with the VP of Marketing (bosses everybody around, super-schemer - show right management).
VP: Please feel free to say whatever you feel must be said, if
not for these meetings the company would not have become so
Jack: I am a manager of Brazilian sales; I would like to discuss the chameleons. They will only bring losses and put the company on the verge of bankruptcy...
VP delivers a speech addressed to the others - how important it is, what high responsibility it is, that it is the only reason the company is up and running, and he will personally study all the documents that must be delivered to him today by 6 p.m.
Delivery of the documents at 5.30. VP of marketing left at 4, which according to his secretary had been planned long time ago.
Every boss shakes Jack's hand, tells him how wonderful everything he has said is, that he supports him and would love to know what is going on with the Brazilian project. Jack complains about the missing information and data. He is told that, since he is so active and shows so much initiative, why does he not just call the stores himself. He says he does not speak Portuguese. If you are so smart, why don't you just learn Portuguese ...
As usually, Jack is out asking where to get the information. His boss suggests that he conduct ...
VP of marketing calls Jack and his supervisors to his office, tells him how please he is with Jack's work, that Jack is a vitally important specialist for the company, that he is utterly happy such talents exist, and that Jack is precisely the person worthy of becoming a manager of the new brand launch.
Applause and congratulations. Restaurant, champagne. Everybody drinks to the 4th of July and his new appointment; she is sitting in the corner. This episode develops into the episode with the night city, where they are hugging and kissing for the first time.