Dear Dirty America


Just Actors In Our Play: Human Drones Running On Autopilot

Just Actors In Our Play: Human Drones Running On Autopilot
March 17
14:52 2014

Marlin told me to look at all those robots. Lines of them. Some holding their shopping baskets by their black handles. Others standing, many with slumped shoulders, next to their carts. The cashiers sliding product after product over their scanners. Hello. Did you find everything OK? Thank you. The chaotic, unorganized series of beeps as every other second eight cashiers dragged, at slightly different intervals, the bar codes over the lasers.

The various colored boxes of macaroni, cereal, muffin mix, and microwaveable meals slid to the end of each checkout line. Piles of processed and packaged food gathering. Prepared cuts of blood red meat smooshed against the clear plastic wrap more perturbing than even the brightest printed colors. Two boys, both with spiked black hair, walked up and down and packed the products into paper or plastic bags. The customers slid their plastic cards, punched a few buttons on a flat screen, and carried their bags out the door with them.

It was early evening. Marlin and I stood next to the cigarette stand. He’d sequestered me to speak about the latest health news scandal–about how deadly artificial sweeteners like aspartame in foods like yogurt and ice cream would now be included under the ingredient ‘milk solids’ so most consumers would never pick up on what they were actually eating–but now he was obsessed with what he called the grocery store zombies.

“Look at them all, buying load after load of nutrition-less food,” he said. His greasy pony tail almost whipped me in the face as he spun his neck from side to side, taking in the scene. “It gets me every time I’m in a public place. The blank eyes. The overweight bodies. The deadened glow of almost every person.”

From our vantage point, it was difficult to disagree. Marlin and I were spooked. I didn’t have nearly the energy he did, even though he was twice the age I was. Mostly because Marlin lived off wheatgrass juice. The chlorophyll and living plant enzymes kept him so vibrant it was hard to calm him down. Yet that evening he was docile. Soulless human beings everywhere. Defeated. Corrupted. Sickly. Like animals in a zoo. Nothing natural about it.

“Look at these people,” he said. “I’m beginning to think they’re actors in our play. We’re more aware and alive than ninety-nine percent of the people in here. Why did they all come to the grocery store at the same time we did, anyway? Doesn’t that seem like an odd coincidence? They aren’t awake like we are. Just a bunch of energy forms running on automatic.”

You think they’re just an illusion to fill up our personal representation of reality?

“They are here for us,” he said. “It’s for our experience. They’re on a time loop over and over again. No souls. It’s like the background characters in video games. They look like real characters. They act like real characters. But when you look closer, when you study them, you find they are on repeat. Making the same motions again and again. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them would vanish into thin air half a block away and reemerge back in the grocery store to start filling up their shopping cart all over again.”

You’re onto something with that theory, I said. I could see his single tooth, covered in spit, and gleaming in the glaring fluorescent lights. So it’s not that we’re ‘extra special’, I asked him, but we’re actually the normal humans and it’s our job to make choices and live life fully, through a world that is filled to the brim with simulated drones.

“Human drones. Very detailed, perfect holograms from the Source to populate the backdrop for the experience our souls signed onto before being born into their current bodies,” he said in his high-pitched, rapid way of speaking. Like a little dog yapping.

Earth suits, I said. I call them earth suits. Or human vessels.

“Your earth suit and my earth suit are similar,” he said, pointing at me. “Tall, skinny. We both have long blonde hair and enticing Nordic features. That’s why some men think we’re gay.”

And look at you, I said. You’re too nutty to be a fabrication in the planet Earth simulator. Your pants are way too short. Your scuffed white, Velcro sneakers are out of this world. Surely you’re a fully realized manifestation of the Creator.

“That’s exactly it,” he told me, “we’re living out our current issues this time round the Great Wheel. That would explain why these people are zombies, padding and challenging our realities.”

Dangerous ideas, I said, but there’s got to be some sort of theory put down to explain this muddled mess of humanity. That one is as good as the rest. I wouldn’t say all ideas are equally important or relevant, but you raise an intriguing one.

“You gentleman need to step aside,” a stern guard told us. “You’re blocking the walkway.” Her curly dark hair was squashed beneath her officer’s cap. She was dressed like a cop, but stripped of the honors. No gun. No Taser. No handcuffs. But she did have a corporate badge that said, in official blue letters, SECURITY.

I glanced at Marlin. What did he think? Real human, or just a simulation to test us? Marlin raised one eyebrow.

Ma’am, I said, this is all an illusion. We’re onto you. We’re onto this scheme. My friend and I will be creating our own reality. You will not playact importance over us.

It would seem that even a middle-aged, plump Latina security guard can get stern. She’d been tempered by the wildness of the late security shift in Koreatown. Without blinking she said we had five seconds to move our conversation outside.

“Hola, mami!” Marlin shouted. He was a regular at the grocery store, and it turned out he knew the guard by name. “She’s a real schoolmarm,” he said after we’d stepped outside.

It’s good to keep in mind that even dead energy can give us considerable problems, I told him.

“She’s no simulation,” Marlin said. “Sparkling eyes. Unforgettable smile. Soft in all the right places. But don’t give her any guff.”

[Man considering cuts of meat from National Cancer Institute, photographer Bill Branson, 1989]

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