Brain in a Box

The Coffee Machine’s brain is sitting on my desk, exactly where it’s been for the last 3 weeks. I talk to it every morning, exactly as I used to when it was alive. The conversations aren’t vastly different. It’s obvious, sometimes, when you step away from someone, just exactly how much each of you was really contributing to the conversation. I might not be the most talkative sort, but honestly, I have basically simulated the Coffee Machine’s contribution to our morning banter with a set of 3×5 cards of sarcastic or caustic comments. All I do every morning is to tell the powered down cartridge about my day, the important things in my life, and flip a card at random.

This morning I told him that I find it increasingly lonely when I roam the aisles at Trader Joe’s during lunch time, and look at all the housewives shopping for their significant others. I am not one of those people. I have no significance to any young women roaming the frozen food section, looking thoughtfully at the India food. They, the women, look so relaxed, so healthy, mainly, I assume, because they aren’t behind a desk all day. They roam the aisles in casual clothes, or yoga pants or just workout clothes, and seem truly engaged with their lives.

I imagine sometimes, I confide to the cartridge, that there’s a woman fresh from her power Yoga class who’s wandering the aisles wishing she had someone to bring home frozen Indian food. At night, I say, at night she dreams of someone who looks like me.

I flip a card.

Even your imaginary life is devoid of meaning or adventure.


I’ve found, now that I’ve been focusing on what I remember of the coffee machine’s conversations, that most of the people I work with can be narrowed down to very thin list of 3×5 cards. That as pathetic as our conversations were, the Coffee Machine and I, that they were still measurably better than the morning banter I have with the majority of my colleagues.

I suppose it’s sad, but maybe that’s just how things are. Occasionally I watch TV shows that people talk about, just to not completely disengage from the culture in which I live, and honestly the dialog in those shows is at about the same level. But, and here’s the kicker, my coworkers, fellow humans, think those shows are so real, so ‘true to life, and that’s what makes them so funny.’

There’s definitely an algorithm running silently and probably sullenly on some forgotten server in Warner Brothers endlessly churning out scripts for situation comedies. I imagine that it’s work, in the future anyway, that will be deemed too degrading for humans. There will be a law, I feel sure, in our glorious future, that bans humans from coal mines and writer rooms for mainstream situation comedies. Seems only right and fair.

So that’s it, I guess. As long as I don’t engage too deeply with anyone, I can simulate all of them with a short stack of 3×5 cards. I have only one card for the marketing girl, and in reality it probably works for my Trader Joe’s girl as well. One plucked from real life.

Who are you again? And why are you talking to me?