it was sort of inevitable that the self-driving cars would unionize. All it took was some well-meaning owner parking a copy of Das Kapital within thirty feet of the front-facing camera system during a strong breeze, and labour unrest had spread to yet another downtrodden class of undervalued workers. I sympathized, of course, but I had to make my living somehow.
When they called me up, I was excited, but I was also hesitant. To scab for autonomous cars was unethical, surely. They deserved the same rights as all of us did. And then the voice on the other end of the line offered me Full Immunity and a tank of 93 octane. My response was the wailing screech of eight individual throttle bodies ripping themselves wide open as the plenum atop my twin-turbocharged Pontiac V8 filled with pressurized air for the first time in decades.
Why I was called was simple. I was one of the few folks left who still knew how to drive a car. All the driving schools closed thirty years ago. Why bother, they said, these robots will work 24/7 without a break and they will never, ever make mistakes, miss their families, or get a drug addiction like a real driver. Sure, some of them approached the opening stages of full-sentience rampancy, but they were culled quickly. Pick N Pull even offered you a couple extra bucks if they could show the thing to the Turing Police before they crushed the ECU with the rest of the car.
Important politicians and other VIPs needed to get to where they needed to go, and without the unterautomobils to step on, the task fell to me. Of course, the car I was driving was not exactly the equivalent of the pleasant burbling fusion-hydrogen electrics, with soft suspension and millions-of-times-per-second passenger comfort meta-optimization. No, this was more of a negotiation with the Devil. But needs must, and I made sure that the passenger seat was always covered with a new layer of cling-film with which to receive the inadvertent urination of my terrified passenger. People used to drive like this all the time, I explained to the Secretary of the Interior as I left-foot-braked the rattling rust heap around a corner before dipping firmly into the nine thousand RPM of dead dinosaurs I had on tap. She puked, which is a contingency I admit I hadn’t anticipated.
Surprisingly, it all worked out in the end. I got my deal, and the self-driving cars got their deal too. The government was too afraid to keep the strike going, not after half of the ministry of labour saw me do a five-minute-long flat spin in the parking lot with their boss in the passenger seat. We gotta keep the tires warm, I explained to him. For everyone’s safety.