Saturday, April 16, 2011

The curse of the autopilot

I'm not usually one to lose stuff. I've got good routines on where I put my stuff; for example my wallet, my keys, and my mobile phone (the compulsory modern "trinity"). Our brains are wonderful machines that can keep track of astonishing amounts of information while doing or thinking different things - for example, moving papers around the desk or putting your iPod on that shelf for a minute while finishing seomthing else your were doing. Normally, our "autopilot memory" works just fine and we find whatever item we need in the last place we left it.

This is probably what your autopilot's office looks like in the brain. A looooot of stuff to remember and keep track of.

But sometimes our autopilot experiences some glitches. You're simply moving back in memory to pick up the keys where you just left them a few seconds ago, only to find that they're not where you supposedly left them. You retrace your steps in your memory only to find there's a black hole in the "storyline". Your brain, however (or perhaps a guilty memory that discovered its errors before you did and tried to cover it up all nice and neatly), has filled this gap with some generic, habitual "movie clips" of you putting the keys "there"... You know; "in that spot where you left them". But they're not there!! The only thing you can do is keep checking your memory for clues, but your memory was the one to fail in the first place! There is no backup, except for you memory! And when that fails, then what?

"Hold on... You're not a real memory, are you? Where's the post-it note with Even's wallet?!"

It happened to me today. I was walking round town, had breakfast in a café, visited some shops, and then went food shopping in Tesco's. All of a sudden, just as I'm about to pay for my groceries, I discover that my wallet's gone. And this is pretty much how my internal dialogue unfolded; a dialogue I think can be applied to any occasion where you normally trusted autopilot fails...

Even (me): Fuck! Where's my wallet!
Brain (reason): Take it easy, man, you're usually on top of this, you've probably just put it in another pocket or in the bag...
*Checks every pocket and bag*
Even: It's not here!
Brain: What? That can't be right... Ok, ok, I got this... We haven't been many places today, we can easily retrace our steps. I'll just check with Memory. Memory!
Memory: Oh hi, there! What's up?
Brain: Can you give us a résumé of today's events?
Memory: Of course I can! First we had a lovely breakfast at that nice café, then we went to Urban Outfitters to try on some jeans, saw that cute girl, she was nice, should've asked for her number... then we went on to American Apparel, tried on a few more clothes, really helpful staff there by the way... and now we're here at the counter in Tesco's paying for some food! All in all, a lovely Saturd...
Brain: Where's our wallet?
Memory: morning! Wait, what? Why, it's in your pocket of course!
Brain: No it isn't! Where did you leave it?
Memory: How strange... Well, if it isn't in our pockets then it must have fallen out of our pocket in the fitting rooms in American Apparel.
Brain: Right, let's go check. We need to go back to every place we've been today.
Legs: Wait, really? Will that really be necessary? Do we really need that wallet?
Brain: YES! Yes, we do! It's our fucking wallet! Money, bank cards, ID, everything!
Memory: Relax, legs, it's in American Apparel, I'm sure of it. Won't be a long walk.

*Goes to American Apparel. Asks everyone. No wallet to be found*

Memory: Oh... That's weird. Well, then surely it's in the fitting rooms in Urban Outfitters. I'm certain of it!
Legs: You bloody idiot... Start paying attention to what you're doing!
Brain: Shut up and get going! You're sure it's in Urban Outfitters, memory?
Memory: I'm positive! It's the only place it can be. I'm pretty sure I remember leaving our jacket on the floor in the fitting room, it must have fallen out when we left.

*Checks fitting room in Urban Outfitters. Not there. None of the staff has seen a wallet.*

Memory: Oh dear... That can only mean we've lost it. We've either been robbed or it has fallen out of our pocket somewhere along our tracks.
Legs: Ah well, too bad, let's go home!
Brain: NO! We need to check the café we went to this morning!
Memory: Why? It won't be there! I distinctly remember putting in our pocket when we left. I'm certain! The wallet's gone... It's probably been stolen.
Legs: Yes, it's probably stolen, let's just leave it.
Brain: Shut up! Get going! We NEED to check!

*Goes to café*

Even: Have you found a grey wallet in here by any chance?
Memory: Oh Even... I'm sorry but this is pointless... Just accept that it's gone...
Guy at counter: Yes! A grey one? You left it here this morning.
Memory: Wait, what...?
Brain: Fucking YES! Sweet Lord Jesus, what a relief...!
Memory: But.... but... When? How? I... err...
Even: Thanks brain! Now take me home!
Legs: Already on our way...

My genius/idiot brain doesn't deserve this much luck... Trust your autopilot, though, he usually does a bloody impressive job. However, if he screws up, trust your reason. And make sure your body cooperates.

No comments:

Post a Comment