A Photo of Yourself From The Future is the 215th Subnormality comic.
Plot Summary Edit
A man enters a shop after he received an email from a mailing list about their services. The receptionist is eager to prove to him that, despite the business's outlandish name, they really do provide photos of customers from 20 years in the future (although sometimes the result comes back blank). She offers him a free photo, just to prove it to him, and shows him the equipment - a printer that she enters names into. To test the concept, the man gives her the name of his friend, Terry, and is stunned to find that the printer returns a picture of a future Terry in a suit.
The receptionist admits she has no idea how it works or even who owns the store (although the sign outside implies it is Bernard) - she just answered an advert looking for a receptionist. She also admits that she still hasn't put her own name in, as she's scared that the picture will come back blank or show her a bad future. They talk about themselves in an attempt to stall, then agree to enter their names together. While waiting for the results to print, the woman becomes nervous, and the man takes her hand.
The printer produces a picture of the two of them twenty years in the future, married to each other.
Dude: Hi, so this place can't be for real, can it..?
Clerk: Yes, come in! We are completely for real! Can I ask how you heard about us?
Dude: I think it was just one of those mailing lists you don't remember signing up for and then you don't unsubscribe 'cause you just like getting E-mail. I just assumed this place was a joke though.
Clerk: Not a joke, I promise! I know it's hard to -
Dude: Please don't tell me it's some scam then. Even though it pretty well has to be.
Poster: Success Stories!
Clerk: It's not a scam, it's not a joke, it's not even expensive – all we ask from you is your name, to access the information, and 20 bucks – a dollar per year – which is us not even breaking even. We're so not a scam.
Dude: So it's just some stupid novelty thing – people figure there's probably no chance it's legit but it's so cheap you might as well find out and then you of course get some fake photoshopped thing in return. So basically your entire business is you mining that one-time little bit of amused curiosity in people with a certain amount of money and free time?
Photo in background's sign: Hi Jim
Clerk: Dude, I'll comp you, how about that? I'm honestly willing to pay the $20 dollars myself just to convince one friggin' person this week that we're for real. Plus you might not even get anything, you might get a blank result, so this way I wouldn't feel as bad. I completely get the hardcore cynicism, but I gotta take it as a challenge
Dude: Alright, I can respect that actually. So... what? How does this work? I'm concerned about the path I'm on or whatever, so then I give you my name and then somehow you –
Clerk: Yes! We enter it into the transceiver and then a couple seconds late you get...
Store sign: A Photo of Yourself From the Future(tm) A division of Bernard industries, inc.
Address #: 215
Window poster: $20.00 Tax Incl.
Window poster 2: Not a Joke! (yea rite)
Window sign: OPEN
Next store sign: FOR LEASE Emerald Realty
Clerk: Yes! From exactly 20 years in the future. And it will... tell you something about how you end up, and therefore if you're on the right path maybe.
Dude Can I watch? Or are you gonna disappear behind a curtain and then there'll be the unmistakable sound of a shitty dot matrix printer?
Clerk: Yes, you are definitely gonna watch! Come on back
Dude: This is... it?
Clerk: This is it!
Clerk All I have to do is enter your name and then it'll say "signal received" and the photo prints off. Or it doesn't, because sometimes it comes out blank.
Dude: Because... the person's dead 20 years from now...?
Clerk: That's what I assumed too, but no, not necessarily. Okay, so as far as we can tell the deal is that there's an equivalent store at this same location in the future where people voluntarily have their photos taken to be sent into the past. So I guess not everyone participates, but there's obviously no way to know why.
Dude: So... but... is this SERIOUSLY a thing? They just fully have time travel in the future??
Clerk: I don't know, but they at least can send wireless signals back in time. This is just a normal photo printer and a little radio shack thing that's able to pick up their signal on WiFi or something.
Dude: But then couldn't it just be someone nearby? You put in the name and then an accomplice who took my photo as I came in and has been photoshopping me the whole time just sends it to you and it prints off? I know, I'm sorry I'm so cynical, it's obviously just tough to believe...
Clerk: That's clever actually! I refuse to not prove this to at least one person today. - I'm sick of being the friggin' crazy chick, I'm not used to it – so just give me the name of a person you know and we'll get their photo right now. It only takes five seconds, so you'll know there's no messing around.
Dude: Oh, okay, good plan. Alright here, I'll write down... this kid Terry. He's not even on FaceBook so even if there's some dude with a parabolic mike googling him right now he'd never find a picture in time.
Clerk: Okay perfect! And here we go...
Printer message: RECEIVED...
Printer noises: *Clunk Chr-Clack Vrrt Vrrrr Vrrrr Vrrrr Vrrrr Vrrrr*
Clerk: I do that with mailing lists too.
Dude: Oh, the not unsubscribing thing? Right on.
Clerk: Dude I love getting E-mail.
Printer noises: *Vrrrr Vrrrr Vrrrr Vrrrr Vrrrr Vrrrr Vrrrr Vrrrr*
Clerk: There you go! Is that him?
Dude: Okay, let's – Oh shit, it IS! It's like 40 year old fuckin' Terry!! How did you do that..??!
Dude: Hoooly shit man, what is going on?? Oh shit, look at him!! That's SO weird!! Oh my goodness that's fucked up... Dude, you have picture of people from the future!!
Clerk: Yes, yes we do.
Dude: Oh, he looks good too..! Look at the suit!! That's amazing... Oh I wonder what he does..?? Oh man if he could see this...
Clerk: I can't let you keep it unfortunately, It's completely against policy to put in someone else's name. I just had to convince you.
Dude: Oh man, thank you...
Dude: Oh, crazy..!! Okay – like where did this... how did... HOW?!
Clerk I don't know! I just work here – I was looking for a summer job on Craigslist, I wasn't even paying attention to what the company was really, and I got lucky and they immediately called me back. The interview was just these two weird dudes, and they needed someone with customer service experience for the storefront. They didn't tell me a lot else, I have no idea how it all got started. At first I was just like yeah whatever you guys until I put my Ex's name in and got a future photo of him 5 seconds later.
Background Craigslist Ad: [Reply] Seeking Receptionist/ of downtown) Exciting new business / experience. Great summer position/ extremely fair compensation/ use mean any kind of experience/ or even, fast food (BK, etc) *** Summer p/ location:downtown/
Dude: This is messed up... I don't know if I wanna do it now, what if I just look fucked?!? I was thinking at BEST this was gonna be some trick where it teaches you a lesson about living for today by always printing off a blank photo, but...
Clerk: But shit is for real, I know...
Dude: Oh man. So have you put your own name in yet?
Clerk: Every shift I'm like yeah I'm gonna do it at the end of the day, but I never have. I think if you get a photo at all it means you're doing okay maybe? You can only tell so much from one photo but the ones I've seen mostly look like people wanting to tell their past selves that they'll be alright. That's what I would do, like hang in there, past me..!
Dude: I know, me too.
Clerk: And yeah, a blank photo could mean a lot of things, so it couldn't hurt to try, but still...
Dude: Problem is I pretty much have to now, I feel bad for not believing you. It would sure be easier with another person though...
Clerk: Should we..?
Dude: Honestly, If Terry turns out alright... I'm just gonna say it's a good sign at least. I love that dude – we used to work together until he burned his bridges there – but he just lights up and listens to system of a down in a basement 8 days a week right now. He got handed a bunch of money and it just ruined him. Long story. You try to help him out and he just reverts. So even just this picture would've been worth the trip. I have never seen him not wearing a T-shirt. I am seriously glad you wanted to prove this was not a joke. Seriously.
Clerk: I'm glad too! That's great about your friend.
Dude: Yeah, this is so cool... thanks if I didn't say it before.
Clerk You did say it before, and thank for taking me seriously!
Dude: No problem.
Clerk: Dude I mean it. I'm sick of being yelled at all week. I don't deserve it. As much as I need the paycheque they should seriously just make this a vending machine instead.
Dude: Yeah, not that I want you to not have a job, but that would seem to make a lot more sense.
Clerk: Right?? I 've literally Emailed them, like how do you guys even stay in business, we bring in like $100/week!
Dude: Yeah? What did they say?
Clerk: They were just like well sometimes to get something good takes a disproportionate amount of effort or something, so if we help out even one person it'll be worth it. "Something is lost with automation," That's how they talk. They got their reasons I guess.
Dude: Maybe the future told them what to do..? I'm still strying to figure this thing out here...
Clerk: Yeah... like this place does exist in the future, so I guess it turns out to be worth it..?
Dude: Oh! Maybe someone sent back a photo of the building and that's how it all started!
Clerk: Oh I never thought of that! That's amazing...
Dude: Or can you imagine if it was time travel AND a scam! Like there's some dude in the year 3000 who has the technology but is just using it to mess up the past...
Clerk: Oh shit I had that exact thought – you think about all the internet trolls, it could completely be the future equivalent of that. I doubt it though maybe, 'cause most of the photos aren't really the kind that...
Dude: Yeah, if it was trolls then all the people would just be people photoshopped to be 600 pounds with no teeth. I mean you can practically do that now with just an app. Add in a poorly fitting fast food uniform, just scare the shit out of people!
Clerk: Hey, I worked in fast food..!
Dude: So did I! Looks like you got time to lean..!!
Clerk: Then I got time to clean! Time to friggin' quit more like it.
Dude: I know, I literally walked out of there the day I finished school, I was like yeah I got nothing lined up but no way in hell am I working there with a degree. Because apparently I know what I'm doing. But what if I don't.
Dude: And thus we're blatantly stalling here.
Clerk: So blatantly.
Clerk: I know – it's so hard to do when you know it's actually for real..!
Clerk: Oh! You know what, we could go at the same time – I can cue up to five name in case of groups, 'cause as you can see we constantly have huge groups of people in here.
Dude: Okay, nice.
Clerk: Yeah! I actually did put in a whole family once – It came out in 2 separate photos, one of just the Dad. Awk-waard...
Dude: Brutal... Do you like this job? Not really, I guess?
Clerk: It's just isolating, it's good money for school, basically. I honestly don't really know why I'm here, maybe it'll make sense later, but I doubt it.
Dude: It's better than fast food?
Dude: Here, this's me.
Clerk: Jon without the H, I love that! How's it going Jon? I am Synthia with the S, literally because my parents can't spell. How sad is that?
Jon: Naw, it's distinctive, I like it. Nice to meet you Synthia.
Synthia: Yeah, you too!
Panel 41 <No text>
Synthia: Sorry, I'm just so nervous..!
Jon: Synthia, I'm sweating bullets over here, Synthia.
Synthia Stop it! So what are you hoping to see?
Jon: Fuck, you know what, I'll just settle for not being back at fuckin' Burger Maxx again, because I have recurring nightmares about that like once a week. Back in uniform somehow, making the fuckin' chicken sandwiches, don't even get to make the actual burgers. I'm sick of those fuckin' dreams. Man, fuck that place.
Synthia: Oh, no way – that's exactly what I did at Burger King. The "Spec." Station – all the chicken and the fish and all the other shit no-one buys. Just going nowhere. Never talked. No self-esteem. God my life felt like such a waste of time. It's the photos from the past that troll you, like that is NOT me!!
Jon: Yeah, at the time you're like so this is what my life is. But then looking back maybe who you are can't predict who you will be, no matter how set in stone it seems. You enter into a situation and it could be your future or it could be forgotten 10 seconds after it's over, or you could only realize the significance in retrospect. My dad's on about that all the time – "You know son, I didn't realize it at the time, but..."
Synthia: Nice Dad voice!
Jon: Dude, He talks like that. "Stop imitating my voice, son..." He's a sharp one though.
*Tek tek tek Beep*
Jon: Man, you did it...
Cynthia: I know. Oh God..!
Jon: So look – maybe you never really know, is what I'm saying..
Jon: Like, you go to some sketchy as hell builidng for 2 minutes just to get mad about a scam and then you end up staying.
*Clunk Cha-clack vrrt*
Synthia: Dude it's SO sketchy, I can't believe you did stay. It's my fault isn't it?
Jon: Pretty much. Don't know if I could have done this if it was a vending machine, actually.
Synthia: Yeah.. It's hard enough with another person... Could you..?
Panel 54 Yeah. Whatever happens, it'll be alright.
*Vrrrr Vrrr Vrrr Vrrr Vrrr*
Synthia: ... Just don't let go.
*Vrrrr Vrrrr Vrrrrrrrr*
Mouseover text: i no longer have time to clean
Image title: timetolean.jpg