How the Average American Imperial lived.
(Cascadian National University Lecture Hall)
Morning again. Hey, great job on the inter-murals last week to all of our students. Great showing by everybody, and I know it's not easy competing against schools where they have entire funding departments dedicated to sports.
Which is a great way to bring the discussion around to some lighter topics.
So far in this class we've covered some of the more deep aspects of American society, touching on the reasons why they did what they did. However, how did the average Americans really live at that time? What did they see, what did they feel, and most importantly, why they did it.
Now, we won't focus on the lives of the rich. If you want to focus on that, there's tons of stories, books, and lots and lots of archived performances to observe. The opulence of their society was obvious to all, mostly because they advertised EVERYWHERE. You won't find an American artifact without at least four to five labels, logos and various other warnings, all of which attest to the quality and perfection of the object.
Good luck getting one of those to work now, I might add. A lot of suckers get taken in by some guy selling what he calls genuine American quality and quote labels and logos as proof. I will attest that I have not seen one Cell Phone ever work like they do in the stories. I understand there's a lot more than just a couple of phones to get it to work.
Anyway, back to how the average American lived. The average American lived in a multigenerational unit which was almost always at odds. Much of the American Propaganda of the time worked hard to ensure that families struggled for the Empire, and not for the family, and as a result sowed as much inter generational hatred as possible. The home would generally be owned by the eldest family member, who would then pass it down to the next resident, who would take over the duties of paying the rent on the property to the state. Often the situation would mirror that of the state, with the younger family members paying their rent to the elders, who would in turn pay it to the state. It became an unofficial serfdom of sorts, with the ultimate authority lying in who had the right to summon Soldiers to settle the matter without major consequence. In essence, who ever payed the largest share to the Empire directly.
The Average American was expected to work every day. If you did not, you were considered to be a poor slave who needed constant monitoring. An average American Slave was expected to be a performer, a laborer, and a book keeper. Firstly, the American slave had to perform for the clients of his owner, flattering and behaving submissively in a manner to impart gratitude for the client's business. Then the Slave was expected to perform whatever task that the client expected, with a cheery disposition and all the while attempting to gain more business for the owner. The slave was expected to extoll the virtues of the owner's products, disdain those of competing merchants, and all the while show joy in their servitude. Those that did not do these things were punished by the withholding of money, which was vital for even the water that slaves had to drink. The Slave was also expected to keep perfect track of an owners funds, and if even a dollar was out of line, the slave would not only be punished via the withholding of money, but sometimes forced to work even harder and longer hours.
An Average American was lucky to have a room to themselves. Most shared sleeping space with either family or others without family. However, that hostility that I spoke of earlier reared its head again, and even those with family were often forced to seek shelter with others who had been driven out. For the lowest, they slept on the streets or in extremely flimsy homes that they built out of whatever they could. These homes were always subject to destruction by the Imperial Soldiers, who would often delight in driving the "Bums" out of their assigned cities.
So, an American would wake, and immediately take stimulants. Every day. Just like now.
(General Chuckle through the class)
However, once again, that whole American work ethic comes into it. Instead of making your own cup of coffee, thinking about how much you had left, if you remembered to go to the dairy, whatever... An American would get in their car, drive to a restaurant, and not even get out of the car to be handed their coffee. And if it wasn't perfect in every single detail, an American would feel totally justified in having the slave who made it punished.
Then they would proceed to their task, which half the time was doing the exact same thing. Those that didn't have to directly serve clients often felt themselves superior to the common slaves, and would spend the entire day ensuring that the slaves were always working, and punishing those who did not. They of course feared the same from their superiors, and so on, up to almost the highest levels of power.
So, most of the time, an American would spend their time doing as little work as possible, and keeping their head down. The old joke, "The Boss is coming, look busy" was not a joke to Americans. The secret to a long life in America was not working hard, because if you did you would injure yourself out with constant demands and ever increasing work, but LOOKING like you were working hard. This resulted in the most successful among the lower classes not being those who succeeded, but those who took the credit. As you can imagine, backstabbing and intrigue were rife with the lower classes.
Slaves would delight in fighting with each other, trying to one up each other in meaningless diversions that brought zero tangible gains. A slave would spend years practicing on their own time for the chance to fight in the gladiatorial games. Sometimes they'd have a rich patron, or their family would support them, but it was considered to be greedy to demand that the time you spent in such hard labor to be counted against your work requirements. For the few very lucky who succeeded in the games, fame and great Cult power was promised, and occasionally delivered. Only very occasionally of course, and it would immediately be snatched back upon the slimmest of pretexts.
Watching the games, though was something nearly every American could do. There were tons of diversions, and after a day of work, they were provided to every slave who could pay properly. Often the diversions were about things that they could have if they only worked harder, and so the propaganda fed back into the need for them to appear to work harder, since so many were succeeding. Of course, no-one could work harder forever, but that didn't stop the propaganda from screaming how hard the obviously fat and lazy upper classes were working.
Americans were expected to also devote their time to the cults. You were expected to participate in shows of devotion every four years, and every two years for the especially devout. The most devout attended every local cult event and eagerly joined in the shouting down of any who questioned the wisdom of the cults. To an American, it didn't matter what cult you were in, as long as you believed in an official Imperial cult. Fringe Imperial cults were looked on with suspicion, but still were tolerated by the vast majority of Americans.
Americans dreamed of success. but were fully aware that hard work was not the way to achieve it in their society. For many, the true American dream was one of finding an unguarded bank vault for ten minutes.