This is as well as I can remember: The man visits an old woman each week - it had started as volunteer work, but had turned into something which was taking over his life. He wanted to get her a nurse, but couldn't afford it. He owns a tape store, where the tapes can be played into your mind (Total Recall style), and one day someone breaks in to rob him. Somehow he straps the guy to the machine, and figures out that he can run it backwards to get a memory out and record it to tape.

He ends up taking a bunch of his own memories of war and history, edits out the graphic parts, and then sells it to a school. The school wants more and more tapes, and at the end he ends up recording most of his memories (erasing them in the process), using the money to take care of the woman, and leaving himself a note that he was a happy person, and should live a happy life.

  • Interesting question, and welcome to the site!
    – Wad Cheber
    Jul 14 '15 at 2:36
  • Not an exact match, but the memory-selling aspect reminds me of "The Mind of Simon Foster" Jul 14 '15 at 2:42
  • Hi Folks- thanks for the friendly welcome. I did look at the Mind of Simon Foster, and that's not the story unfortunately.
    – Adam
    Jul 14 '15 at 4:36

This might be "Offloading For Mrs. Schwartz" by George Saunders.

It has a similar-sounding plot to another similar sounding question.

He sounds old but feels strong. I tell him it's hard to explain. I offer to demonstrate.

He says do so, but slowly. I fit him with a headset. I gently guide him to a treadmill, then run Sexy Nurses Scrub You Down. Immediately his lips get moist. Immediately he pops a mild bone and loosens his grip on the knife and I'm able to coldcock him with the FedEx tape gun. He drops drooling to my nice carpet. A man his age should be a doting grandfather, not a crook threatening me with death. I feel violated. Such a man was Tom Clifton, past his prime and bitter. How does someone come to this?

I strap him down and set my console for Scan.

It seems his lousy name is Hank. I hear his portly father calling it out across a cranberry bog. I know the smell of his first baseball cap. Through his eyes I see the secret place under the porch where he hid whenever his fat kissing aunt came. Later I develop a love for swing. It seems he was a Marine at Iwo who on his way to bootcamp saw the aging Ty Cobb at a depot. I sense his panic on the troop transport, then quickly doff my headset as he hits the beach and the bullets start to fly.

To my horror, I see that his eyelids are fluttering and his face is contorting. My God, I think, this is no Scan, this is a damn Offload. I check the console, and sure enough, via one incorrect switch setting, I've just irrevocably transferred a good third of his memories to my hard drive.

  • I've taken the liberty of editing out some of the chatter and editing in the quote where the robber is "scanned" since that's what the OP mentioned in his question.
    – Valorum
    May 7 '16 at 19:15
  • 2
    What kind of idiot puts the "harmless scan" and "irrevocable transfer" settings on the same switch?
    – Broklynite
    May 8 '16 at 3:24

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