Looking Robotic

I went for a little drive to complete an errand of no big importance. That is to say, it was not a pressing matter and I could have handled it on any day in the next 3 weeks. The point is I didn’t want to wait. I wanted to get out and go somewhere, anywhere. You would think that after seeing only Sparky for so long I’d welcome time without him but while he was at work the house seemed so empty. Thus I merrily jumped into the car and headed to my destination. Except I was too wrapped up in other thoughts and missed my turn. No problem. I live in a relatively small city and I’ve lived here for 40-ish years. What I didn’t count on was road construction.

I had missed my turn due to being on “auto-pilot” and taking a very familiar route that I drove daily to work. My destination was NOT the university but a place located before that institution would come into view. I ended up driving for about 20 minutes taking multiple turns and additional detours to end up right where I started. That is, right where I went wrong! Having become disgusted with myself and the summer construction season, I turned for home.

I was caught up in my own little dark cloud of perturbation when it dawned on me that I’d just passed my original destination! I was able to redeem my trip by pulling into the next business (albeit a bit abruptly) and simply parking and walking across the lot. It occurred to me that this trip where I was like a programmed robot is how many people go through life. Once I was back on the road I decided to really pay attention to the people and places I was passing. I saw lots of people walking, mostly alone, in a seeming trance. They didn’t respond to a smile and a wave. People in cars saw only my car and not me in my car smiling and waving. It was a little disheartening. You would think that we’d all be hungry for any positive social interaction. Which leads to this post. My question is, have you been robotic in your life? Are you still on autopilot? Have you been able to break out of the routine and experience the miraculous and the joyous?

85 thoughts on “Looking Robotic

  1. Good post! I have to say that I get lost frequently with twists and turns despite having lived in the Tampa Bay area for two decades. It is a busy area and always changing. It is easy to miss a business as the businesses around might have changed. That being said, I think this keeps me from being robotic and programmed. I am more eclectic which is why I always change up the route. If it brings me to a rough area, albeit I learn a few new things.

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    1. Oh Bonnie! I had to smile but you know staying in is the safest course of action. While I was driving I saw that the Chili’s restaurant was closing and one of the furniture stores was going out of business! The pandemic has changed the face of my community for sure.

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  2. Yesterday one of the places we unloaded at had three different road closed due to construction on the truck friendly routes. The only way left was full of tight turns with people who pull up past the white line making it impossible to turn

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    1. I always like to give the semis lots of room! We have a manufacturing/industrial area not far away and the road I take in and out of my neighborhood sees lots of truck traffic…

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            1. That is not a fun surgery! He may still need to have it done later as he gets older but I hope not! I bet he’s still sore and hopefully not too cranky!

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        1. I’ve seen it too but I drive a little car and I really value my life. All the truck drivers I’ve met have been conscientious and they deserve some space and respect… Saw a car pull that move when a truck was turning and they were lucky not to have the truch run over them!!

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  3. It sounds like your little unplanned journey was exactly what you needed.
    Yes, I’ve noticed that people are less friendly in the grocery stores, as if they think a smile might be contagious…oh, right, I guess it is. The other day I made some meant-to-be-funny comment to a man, then realizing that my mask might have concealed the intended humor, I said, “I’m smiling under this mask.” He replied jovially, “Yes, I can see that in your eyes.” It was a surprisingly heartwarming encounter.

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    1. Hehe! Yes, the little drive around town was just what I needed. There were changes for sure but we are still attached to the planet and that was reassuring. (Though I had a brief Twilight Zone moment). The masks do change communication styles but the eyes don’t lie!

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  4. As I know that I will be working from home as we enter July, I am beginning to feel less robotic. Another blog friend described the sensation of the first weeks of “self quarantine” with her kids and husband as moving through water. I wholly agree that it was very much like that for me as well, and I am single and live alone! When I am out and driving somewhere, life feels a bit like normal in some ways. The ever present stack of clean masks tells me other wise, though.

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    1. The drive felt good if a little frustrating. At least the road crews are making money and staying busy! And construction is happening too. I hope that the rethinking of the definition of “office” give workers more flexibility. I know that for some folks that could be a big savings in daycare costs if a parent was working from home… depending on the number and age of the children.

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  5. Getting your errands became a true expedition, Val .
    The look or not of the people at you is a symbol of our time too much speed .
    Until then I have not been a robot but now the health problems nail me .
    Love
    Michel

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  6. Being retired military, and having traveled in many countries, a few without a road network, I can tell you from experience that developed nations have three types of roads – proposed, under construction, and under repair. Murphy, and his twin sister Karma, assure that your .planned route will have all three in direct proportion to your need to arrive at your destination.

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    1. I’m just happy that I was able to complet my mission despite the problems! Road construction is in full swing here since in the winter it is impossible. So they do it all from April to October…

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  7. Welcome to my world Val! My car is not auto pilot, but my brain is. I have done this exercise of missing turns and driving around for twenty plus minutes in a tiny town, so many times. My children laugh at me.

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  8. I laughed about you accidentally robotically driving to your old workplace. I did that a few times on a Saturday when I had another destination in mind but somehow ended up in the hospital parking lot. Then I panicked because I was in street clothes instead of my uniform. It took a minute to get my bearings. After our move, I’d just started to relax into a routine when COVID turned everything upside-down. When the store was out of something, I had to go to a different one or figure out how to do without it. There was no more Socrates Club at the library, no more free books, no more coffee dates or visits with family, no more Mass, no more gym, no more anything but staying home, preparing meals and making coffee and doing laundry and emptying the dishwasher and walking dogs and watching TV. I hope not to fall into my old patterns when things get back to normal, but I think it’s human nature to take the path of least resistance and walk around half asleep doing things by rote. 🙂

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    1. Ha! I’ve never driven to work on a weekend unless I have been scheduled to work – that must have been a heart stopping panic!! My house has never been cleaner. I’ve never been more organized. I now know that I am capable of being truly a “neat freak”. I can’t wait to get back to a better normal that includes dinners with friends…

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  9. One day when I was working, I noticed a gentleman standing unsteadily at the rack of men’s belts, with an electronic scooter cart about six feet behind him. He looked distressed, but several shoppers walked right past him, lost in their own worlds. I asked if he needed help and he did… he couldn’t get back to his cart. It only took a minute for me to offer my arm and help him walk six feet. I have no idea how long he was standing there afraid to move while dozens of robots walked right past without seeing him.

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    1. He was so lucky you were there! Too many people refuse to see. Others see but refuse to “get involved”. Then there are the angels (and saints aka saintvi)! Sparky asked me about 3rd of July. He seemed a little disappointed…

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        1. Haha! I was just talking to Sparky and we were thinking of having you two over… Probably easier to go to you with all the 4 leggers. Boo is probably not going to mind Sparky being there – he was very chill the last time. DO NOT buy a grill! I will bring my George Forman over if you want to grill!! Or I even have a tailgate set up… Oy!

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  10. I try to avoid autopilot and a nomadic lifestyle encourages that … not to much automation when the destination change frequently!

    One lady in the supermarket stopped to thank me profusely for my smile, she was genuinely touched 🙂

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            1. I think She Who Must Be Obeyed is a kinder moniker than She Who Must Not Be Named (for fear of an untimely death). But my interactions with her confirmed my belief in evil incarnate and also bolstered my belief in God. God does answer prayers and he is a righteous judge… she will now have to deal with the consequences of her actions!

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  11. good questions asked. I do that more often than not, being robotic especially with mundane tasks, on the other hand being robotic physically allows my mind to think deeply. if that makes any sense at all! i am glad you still enjoy ride in the car with your beloved – smiles!

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    1. Repetitive tasks do allow the opportunity for deep thought. I value my deep thought time since it is difficult to find the time and place that lacks distraction and the static of everyday living…

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  12. I do that often. When thinking about my many errands to go to, I forget where I’m headed to, and pass the street I was supposed to enter.

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  13. Great post! I tell you that my life has been on autopilot many times and it’s not a good feeling! Anytime my life was on autopilot was when uncontrollable things began happening to me, bad things that came out of left field that I couldn’t control and I didn’t even have the slightest control over my life. It was the feeling of having Power. Over. NOTHING! To me that was worse than death!

    Today, I realize that you can’t control everything. However, I make it a point to at least have some say over what happens to me. I hope this makes sense.

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  14. There have been more times that I’ve been on auto pilot, than I can count. Mostly, that has been with regard to pulling into a parking lot, jumping out of the car and going inside a store, without noting my car’s spot. You can guess the time wasted, once my business is done-and the hazard warning only makes things worse, as people become irritated by the shrill beeps. I am getting better at paying attention to my spot, though.

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    1. Oh you are not alone in that regard!! I mostly park in the same area at work and when shopping so that I can narrow the search! I’ve only had to use the horn on the remote once – it was snowing and my car was buried so it looked like all the others. The horn honks and the lights flash so that was a huge help in locating it!

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