Scene one

1995: at the entrance of a building I was living in at that time

‘Jordi, what does this mean?’

Ms Garcia was pointing at a new sign I have just put in my mailbox: 

Jordi Serra del Pino

My name was not the mystery. No, the question referred to the ‘prospectivista’ – the Catalan word for futurist. Mrs. Garcia was one of my neighbours, an old lady that had been very friendly with my wife and I since we moved into the building. Not only that, she had some influence in the community and I wanted to let her know that Futures (prospective) was a respectable practice. In retrospect, I think that I also wanted to impress her, let her know what a great thing Futures was and that she was lucky enough to have a trained futurist in her own building. Her look showed true curiosity and, maybe, a spark of anticipation. I started explaining Futures to her. I tried to sound erudite yet accessible; but, before too long, I began to realise that I was losing her. I decided to raise the stakes by improving (or so I thought) the quality of my explanation, but her body language was clear, I was a sinking ship. And there I was, desperately trying to find the most sophisticated examples to make my case, when she decided to put me out of my misery. With a movement of her hand she stopped me while asking a second question.

‘Just tell me this, do you throw tarot cards?’

That was the proverbial torpedo to my flotation line, I was not sinking, I had already sunk.

‘No Mrs. Garcia, I do not throw tarot cards.’

Her look now was a mixture of disappointment and compassion. At that moment I comprehended that, for her, I would have been a lot more interesting, not to say exciting, if I would have been a fortune teller. It was quite obvious that she had paid no attention to my speech. Her expectations were more in line of knowing if I could tell her if her daughter would find a suitable husband, or if her husband would overcome his breathing problems.

It was quite a blow. It was the first time that I understood, despite many people’s interest in the future, that they might not have an equal interest in Futures. The implications of this realisation chased me, and gave me a great deal to think about. Only years later I would understand that this had been a key moment in my professional career.

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