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I read the story in the early '70's, in a hard-cover anthology that was passed down from my father. I don't think he was reading science fiction at that point and my belief is that the book was at least a decade old. It is not Groundhog Day.

In the story, the protagonist is a man who is a stereotypical office worker as perceived in the 50's or '60's. Every day he has exactly the same experience. He wakes up, gets dressed for work, he eats breakfast, spills his coffee on his shirt and has to change it. He is late for work and has to make excuses, tells the same corny joke to his secretary, is dressed down by his boss, etc.

Every day is exactly the same. No variation is possible, at least in externalities. He can have different thoughts, but cannot say anything different or do anything different. Gradually he becomes aware of the presence of other beings observing him, and laughing at various things.

He eventually comes to the conclusion that he is in a kind of museum exhibit, i.e. "A Day In The Life Of A Human Being."

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  • Sounds a bit like Twilight Zone though I'm don't recall an episode title. – Zeiss Ikon Apr 15 '20 at 11:22
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    Wait, you mean some people don't feel like this? – uhoh Apr 16 '20 at 8:29
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It sounds like "Not for an Age", a short story by Brian Aldiss published in 1955 (not to be confused with a different time-travel novel by Aldiss, "An Age"). As you say, the protagonist (Rodney) is forced to live out the same day of his life again and again. At first he thought he was being used as a scientific exhibit, but gradually became aware he was in a carnival exhibit, being used to give cheap laughs to the masses - he could hear the audience laughing, and commenting on his actions and appearance. Finally...

the machine in which he is trapped breaks down, and he is able to escape for a while and finds himself in a run-down, unpleasant future.

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  • "Not for an Age" is listed in the ISFDB here. Check to see if any book covers look familiar. – Invisible Trihedron Apr 15 '20 at 13:54
  • Yes! I think that is it! Thank you for the help. – Mr. Bill Apr 15 '20 at 19:17
  • An amazing story that is similar to this is "Knock" by Fredrick Brown. Synopsis is "The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock at the door." Aliens who have no concept of natural death have wiped out humanity, literally to the last man and woman, whom they put in a zoo as public curiosities. otrplotspot.com/mindwebs.html en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knock_%28short_story%29 – Lopey Tall May 8 '20 at 7:37
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This is one of my favorite SF shorts. Fits your description.

http://www.otrplotspot.com/xMinusOne.html

Tunnel under the World
aka: "The Tunnel under the World"
Year: 1956; 1956
Duration:
Genre: Sci-Fi
Available for Listening Booth: Y
Story by: Frederik Pohl

Every day seems to be a repeat of June 15, but only one man in the entire city is aware of the anomaly.

Reviews:
The ending was a shock for me the first time I heard it, but I continue to listen to this episode all the time. There must be something besides the ending that keeps me listening. --- C. Phillips

One of the better X Minus One episodes, this story perfectly encapsulates author Frederik Pohl's (near prophetic) fear of a too-powerful corporate America. "It was the morning of June 15 and Guy Burkhart woke up screaming..." Note: This episode was aired twice on X Minus One, the second with a different cast and slightly different script and sub-par (especially for X Minus One) production values. --- Brendan

Creatively, the best episode of this landmark series bar none. Excellent organic storyline loaded with intriguing plot twists and a surprise ending that would even surprise Rod Serling. Excoriations against the ad world are however ridiculous, but work beautifully as classically satirical anti-big business paranoia of the straight out-of-left-field, far left. --- Bruce Fisher

This is the single old time radio episode that most stuck in my brain after hearing it - I originally heard it when I was 9 years old or so and thought it was terrifying! The premise - that the main character keeps re-living the same day, and no one else realizes that the day keeps repeating - is clever, and chilling when you start to find out why this is happening. There are some clear plot holes that detract a bit from the show, but overall a good, fun episode. --- Raj Ghoshal

You can listen to it here https://archive.org/details/OTRR_X_Minus_One_Singles

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    This story doesn't really match the description. The day isn't looping (per se) although it is repetitive. The guy isn't restricted in his movements, nor is he stuck performing for an alien museum. – Valorum Apr 15 '20 at 19:59
  • Re, "Every day seems to be a repeat of June 15." Not exactly. The date always is the same, but the one man who is aware of that fact can plainly see that the events of the day are different each time, and not just because of his own actions like in "Groundhog Day." Each iteration of the day is different all over the city. The "shock ending" is closely linked to the reason why. Can't reveal it without spoiling the story. – Solomon Slow Apr 16 '20 at 15:14
  • It was correctly ID'd as Not For An Age by Brian W. Aldiss. – Mr. Bill Apr 16 '20 at 20:26

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