Nobody ever sat down in the city of North Star.
It was a productive city, the most productive in the nation in fact. It produced all sorts of things in its factories: software, hardware, clothing, metals, and so on and so forth. The city's net worth had never been known to go down. Calling it a well-oiled machine would be a very apt description, or perhaps not since well-oiled machines occasionally break down from wear and tear.
If you were to go up to a citizen on the streets of North Star and say hello, he'd most likely ignore you. In fact, if you yourself were a native to North Star you wouldn't ever stop to say hello to anyone. Any time spent stopping to say "hello" to anyone on the street would be a second later you'd get to your destination, and a second less time you'd have to do important work, which meant your productivity would drop. And that's not worth a simple friendly greeting.
For you see, the city valued its productivity, and did everything it could to keep it high. Leisure was forbidden; any time you spent relaxing was time you weren't spending working. Men, women, AND children worked day and night, staying awake via energy supplements.
Nobody was allowed to enter or leave North Star, and anybody who tried was killed on the spot. Even birds that tried to fly over the city limits were shot on sight by the round-the-clock guard. Any distractions would be a severe handicap to the productivity of the city.
As I said earlier, nobody ever sat down in the city of North Star. You approach your desk standing up, so why not stay that way? If you spent an extra few seconds sitting down and standing up every time you entered and left, that'd be a few less seconds you could spend working-- and that sort of productivity loss just isn't worth anything. Besides, the citizens spent so much time standing up that they were far too accustomed to it to need to sit down for anything.
It was all highly regulated. You would stop your shift at precisely 11:50 A.M. and zero seconds-- not a tenth of a second earlier or later-- for a meal break. You would take exactly fifty-three steps to the ration distribution area, where you would receive a ration containing exactly the nutrients you needed to sustain yourself until your next meal break. You would eat it in exactly twenty-two bites, chewing each bite exactly twelve times before swallowing. Then you would take exactly fifty-three steps back to your desk to resume your work. Of course these details varied from person to person, but they were set beforehand and people followed them.
There was no art in North Star. There was no music, no comics, no television except for news and the like. Not even comfy cushions existed. After all, those things existed for leisure, and as I said earlier, leisure was forbidden.
You're probably thinking now, "North Star doesn't sound like a pleasant place to live." And you'd be right. But that remark would have made no sense to the city's residents, to whom concepts like joy, pleasure, and humor were totally alien. These emotions, and for that matter all others, were banished from the minds of North Star, for any extra effort that was put into crying, laughing, or growling could also be spent doing a little extra work-- and emotions have no monetary value.
Sometimes a person would fall out of line. They'd take fifty-four steps instead of fifty-three when coming back from their meal break, or turn their head to look at something while walking down the street, or-- God forbid-- sit down while working. Anybody who did this was designated as "inefficient" and would have their heart stopped on the spot by means of a special receiver that was implanted directly into every citizen's nervous system at birth. Then another citizen would take his place. It was a bit on the draconian side, but a small price to pay to keep people in line and keep productivity from slipping.
Then the day came when a single teenage vandal whose name no one knew slipped past the city's defenses...