Los Angeles airport. I choose a sandwich and hand it over to the cashier.
– “Hi, how are you?” she asks.
I open my mouth to let out a polite and mindless “Fine, how are you doing?” but instead I feel compelled to tell the truth:
– “Actually I’m exhausted. It’s been a long day. And a long week.”
– “I’m tired too. I couldn’t sleep last night. Does that ever happen to you?”
– “Oh yes. The body is tired but the mind won’t shut down.”
Soon we are chatting like old friends, revealing our tricks to find sleep on those long nights when counting sheep just won’t do the job. I like to focus my attention on breathing. She prefers to get up and drink a glass of milk. We laugh. By the time we say goodbye we are no longer strangers. We connected. The exchange was real.
Later on while the airline crew calls the First Class passengers to board the aircraft my mind wanders. I imagine what the world would be like if we said what we really mean instead of always playing a role and giving the expected answer….
Dinner in a fancy restaurant:
– How is the fish of the day?
– Unless you want to be sick you might want to order chicken.
During a business meeting:
– Shall we order sandwiches and continue to work while we eat?
– No. I prefer getting out of this depressing meeting room.
– Awesome idea! We can picnic in the park across the street.
Early morning in a hotel lobby:
– Did you sleep well?
– No. The guests next door were humpin’ and pumpin’ until 3am.
– I know. I couldn’t sleep either.
The voice on the speakerphone calls my group for boarding. As I step into the plane, the flight attendant repeats the same words to every passenger:
– “Welcome aboard. How are you?”
I nod, a fake smile on my face.
Being a robot is so much easier than being human.