In 1988 Volkswagen asked Kurt Vonnegut to write a letter to those living a hundred years into the future. Here is his letter entitled “Ladies & Gentlemen of A.D. 2088”.
- A man is sentenced to 10 years in prison. On his first day in the slammer, he gets into a fight and falls into a coma. He wakes up 10 years later. Is the man free to go?
- What would you rather fight — 5 bears the size of a chicken or 1 chicken the size of a bear?
- If you walk into a pizzeria and order a pizza for delivery, what would you say to convince them that they now owe you a ride home?
- You have a button, and when you press it, it does something. What does your button do?
- If you had an endless supply of any food, what would it be?
- One law no longer applies to you. What is that law?
- You are now a car salesman. What’s your strategy to get people to buy cars from you?
- Your significant other will be home in five minutes, and you haven’t bought or planned anything for their birthday. What do you do?
- What is the most boring state?
- What do you think there are more of — chairs or people?
- There are 7.7 billion people in the world. What is one thing specific to you that nobody else does or thinks?
- Name a famous person you share a first name with that you wish didn’t share your name.
1950s ideal employee qualities: show up on time, work for 40hours, help others, leave before 5 years and there is something wrong with you.
Vonnegut addresses the graduating class at Fredonia College in New York on May 20, 1978. Taken from If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?: Advice to the Young.
I suppose you will all want money and true love, among other things. I will tell you how to make money: work very hard. I will tell you how to win love: wear nice clothing and smile all the time. Learn the words to all the latest songs.
What other advice can I give you? Eat lots of bran to provide necessary bulk in your diet. The only advice my father ever gave me was this: “Never stick anything in your ear.” The tiniest bones in your body are inside your ears, you know — and your sense of balance, too. If you mess around with your ears, you could not only become deaf, but you could also start falling down all the time. So just leave your ears completely alone. They’re fine, just the way they are.
Don’t murder anybody — even though New York State does not use the death penalty.
That’s about it.