Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I sometimes amuse myself by adopting new terms for things; I have renamed my cat countless of times (he answers to most of them), used different words to signify "cramming" to make deadline days sound more, er, colorful, and borrowed other people's new terms when I find them amusing enough (hello, superhero duties).

The latest addition to the word bank is what I call 'autopilot,' that is, the state in which one is so tired that all the movements and tasks are done robotically. Now before you think anyone can actually write on autopilot (quite impossible, actually), let me say that I thought up this term while I was walking to the Ayala MRT station from the bus stop at Paseo-Ayala through the pedestrian-friendly walkway-cum-maze in Makati. I was walking methodically, only half-aware of where I was. I was so tired I just let my feet lead the way. I knew I was so out of it when I actually thought I had already passed Glorietta while I was still in Landmark; I got all the malls jumbled up in my head, but I was still walking the right way.

Autopilot can be a dangerous state, especially when crossing the road (best not to let it happen in Cubao, too). And now that I think about it, it's a state you can't ever be in while at work--what slipshod results you'll have to your name!

That day, I was already in SM Makati when my brain sent a signal to the autopilot that maybe I could drop by the Homeworld to check out the list for a wedding I am attending. I took the detour and looked for the desk; but, I had to ask so many sales people where the desk was. I finally ended up on the other side of the mall where a pair of salesladies at a cashier answered me with a harsh "Ano bang registry yan?" and, after I said "Bridal," told me to go to a small empty desk at the corner of Homeworld and get my list there.

Now, I understand it if there are many different desks for other kinds of registries, but shouldn't there be somebody manning them all? What was I to do, talk to the empty chair? They could clearly see from where they were that the desk was empty. I snapped out of autopilot right then. I thought: maybe there's something about my tiredness that showed; no one was taking me seriously! So, I decided to get the list another day, when I'm more bibo.

When you're on autopilot, people can respond to you rudely because they see (or feel?) you're running low and are obviously not in any mood to get indignant or to complain. It's a kind of indifference that makes you vulnerable to getting shortchanged; sometimes, I think it isn't only an individual state because, collectively, people can be functioning on autopilot too (hello, fellow youth).

One can't afford to be on autopilot--as I said, it's a dangerous state. Sure, people get tired, but won't it do you so much good to stop dwelling on how tired you are and forget yourself for a while? There are so many things to be done that there is no time to be apathetic, indifferent and lukewarm...

How will you change the world if you're a zombie?


Photo above is a poster of The Mechanical Man, an Italian silent (epic, horror) film, which showed here a few months ago. Interesting how the robot enters a party a la Phantom of the Opera, and nobody notices that he's the killer mechanical man...and then he attacks, as expected. That's an example of collective autopilot. Poor people, they didn't know any better.

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