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The main character is male and his only possessions are his car, a pair of socks, and this video or audio recording of a tour of an apartment that he wants to buy. The city in which he lives (or maybe even the whole word) is perpetually stuck in traffic. People sometimes try "start-ups" by turning on their cars (they're normally turned off to conserve gas or because they have already run out of gas) and trying to get other cars to finally move. Large drones fly around and dump hot, soapy water on the people stuck in their cars.

The main character obsessively watches/listens to this tape and becomes paranoid that a woman is being murdered/hurt in this apartment, and he becomes convinced that he has to help her. He enlists the help of the daughter of the family that lives in a mini van near his car.

Her looks get them "hired" for the day as advertising agents, they get picked up by a drone, and injected with something that lets them pass through the "semi-permeable barrier" that makes surface humans invisible to the richer class that lives under ground. They get dumped in this mall and try to talk to people to find the apartment but the only things that the injection allows them to talk about is the things they are advertising (beer? or pens maybe).

They eventually find the apartment and there is a man living there who seems nice, but then he calls the police on the main character and keeps the girl he is with, we assume to hurt her.

I found this story story in a paperback book in the value bin at Strand Bookstore in New York in 2016. The author is male I think, and has a pretty popular book, maybe about being in a gang in New York City? His short story collection has something to do with eyes in the title and the cover looks like one of those long exposure light photos, blue and red colored I think.

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    This sounds like an episode of Doctor Who with Martha Jones though in it, the surface is locked and the lowest level of the planet a monster lies and every level in between is stuck in traffic. – Dev Mar 7 '18 at 7:08
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It's "Access Fantasy" by Jonathan Lethem, from Men and Cartoons: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/jonathan-lethem/men-and-cartoons/

The city in which he lives (or maybe even the whole word) is perpetually stuck in traffic.

“Access Fantasy,” strongest of the SF pieces, paints a creepily just-plausible future world that’s divided by a “One-Way Permeable Barrier” between have-nots who live in cars stalled in an eternal traffic jam and the privileged folks who have actual apartments.

The main character obsessively watches/listens to this tape and becomes paranoid that a woman is being murdered/hurt in this apartment, and he becomes convinced that he has to help her.

After watching an “Apartment on Tape” (the entertainment of the dispossessed) that seems to show a murder, the narrator volunteers to wear an Advertising patch that lets him cross the barrier so he can tout Very Old Money Lager to strollers in the Undermall, but his efforts to investigate the murder just get him sent back to the street.

I was trying to solve this one too. I'm so relieved I found it.

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