Autopilot 

I don’t know about other people, but for me nearly every workday morning is a blur. Just about everything I do is automatic, which is good because most of the time I’m pretty much still sleeping. Folks I work with will tell you I’m still sleeping at noontime too, but that’s a story for later.

Being on “autopilot” means that as long as every step is the same as usual your next step comes without thinking about it. It also means that if you don’t notice something was different you can cause yourself some issues.

It was late last week when I began questioning what I did the day before. Our usual tasks when we leave for work is I head out to the car first, putting our lunchboxes in the car and starting it, turning on the heat or AC depending on the season. Trish soon follows carrying our travel mugs of coffee. When we get to work I leave my mug in the car. If there happens to coffee in the mug I dump it out in the afternoon. But the key is I never take my travel mug out of the car.

My problem happened when on Thursday when I noticed Trish had bought some disposable cups. We used to use disposable cups years ago, so I had an “autopilot” for those where I carried the cup into the building and threw it away.

But now I couldn’t remember what I did the day before.

I “remembered” carrying my empty mug back into the house, only I wasn’t certain if I’d really done that. As I stood there staring at the disposable cups I really couldn’t be certain what had happened the day before. Then I realized I was concerned about what kind of cup I had used the day before, as if it mattered at all. But it did matter, because I couldn’t remember. Turns out I went back to my old autopilot, and threw the cup away.

Mystery solved.

Trish and I both have a funny autopilot story, which we still talk about because it is the true definition of the word. It was years ago when we were living in the apartment, and we headed out on a day off to do some errands. It was nothing out of the ordinary and we did as we always do; we drove to the furthest destination away from home and began our errands heading back toward home.

While we were headed out to the Oxford Wal-Mart (the one in Leicester didn’t exist yet) we talked about some of the odd things that had been happening at work (some things never change). We got to the store, grabbed a cart, and walked inside. After walking up an aisle I asked Trish what we were looking for first on our list. She glanced at the list, looked around, and started laughing. I looked at her, then looked around too.

We were standing in BJ’s.

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