It became obvious to me that this strange neurological disorder that had scrambled my brain yesterday is continuing to takes its toll. The man next to me was talking quite loudly on his phone. From the loud laughter it sounded like he was enjoying the conversation with whomever he was talking to. Now had my thinking been right. Had I not been infected with this strange neurological malfunction, I would have told him in Thai to keep it down. Instead I thought to myself “Wow, it sounds like he is having a fun conversation with someone.” Full stop. No complaining to myself about the traffic that was traffic in name only and more closely resembled a parking lot.
It got worse. I switched buses because the air condition was not working and the engine sounded like it was dying. The lady who collects the tickets smiled at me, tried to explain to me that we would have to switch buses. And I smiled back and said “Mai pen lai”, Thai for “No problem” Where was the anger? I was going to be late. I would have to stay out in the hot sun for maybe a whole ten minutes. I should have been furious that there would not be any justice meted out.
I got on another bus and there were some protesters going to an anti-government protest. They were sitting there enjoying themselves telling some story, probably from the day before , and laughing and having a good time. Did they not realize that I did not support them? And I did what any good citizen would do. I yelled at them…except…I didn’t. They chatted away and I watched Bangkok roll by . I didn’t even think about how tragic it was that Thailand was being troubled by all these protests. I was thinking about more important things. First about the Red Sox, then which coffee I would have when I met my friend, then about the Red Sox again, and then finally how fun it was to see the city go by me.
I at no point offered my opinions on the protests even though I know plenty of big words. In fact except for the brief mental note that in all likelihood these people were going to the protest I didn’t think about it at all. I don’t understand why. Had I said something I probably, based on the fact that the advice was coming from me, would have convinced them not to go at all. I also did not think about the economy despite the fact that Obama clearly needs my opinions and solutions. Nor did I glare angrily at the slow moving person in front of me when the bus finally reached my stop. I just smiled, and the person smiled back.
Perhaps the most worrisome thing is when I passed the shopping mall and saw that they were having some competitions that involved two people wearing the same color shirts doing silly things while another team of two people did equally silly things. What came from me? Was it a sarcastic remark about how silly the whole thing was? No. Was it some snide comment about how easily the people are being duped into coming to the mall to join this event? No. It was this creeping feeling that I had to look up in a medical dictionary. I was apparently, according to the symptoms I matched , enjoying myself.
The worst had yet to come. I finally met my friend for coffee. We ate at Au Bon Pain. No comments about how the international companies are making every one big Mcworld and making one country indistinguishable from the next. Not a thing about politics except for a moment when we agreed we were both bored about hearing about all the protests. No brilliant speech about how AIG had proved , much to my disgust, that Marx was right about the nature of capitalism. We did not talk about the socio-economic problems facing migrant workers in the Mekong valley. We did talk about golf, and some of experiences teaching in Thailand and some of the places I visited.
When I finally got home I began to worry. Apparently after the onset of this mind ravaging problem I had acquired worse things began to happen. For example I heard that people suffering from late , nearly terminal, stages don’t wait for “someone” else to fix problems in society. They actually go out and teach young people at disadvantaged schools. They go to Africa and other places and , for free, use years of expertise to help people who have never gotten help before.
I am quite afraid that will happen to me. That one day I will see a problem and instead of complaining about it with my friends while we drink coffee, whose combined cost equals a months salary for a Cambodian farm worker, I will actually go to Cambodia and try and find out help THEY need, not what help I determine they need. Or maybe I will do it in Thailand. I fear for the world if too many people get infected with this. I fear for me.
Unless a cure is found I see society, as we know it, breaking down. We will stop listening to 24 hour news stations and their constant demagoguery that serves not to inform us, but rather to please starving companies that advertise on the stations . We may even go back to a dark age where we put this ancient tool called a “pen” to a “paper” and use that to connect to love ones around the world or even worse than that, actually see our loved ones face to face. We will stop shopping at the Mac store because Macintosh told us to buy the newest gadgets. We may wait a year maybe three (less if it is me because I lose my phones at quite a spectacular rate) before buying a new phone. The result being that the economies of countries that are used to whoring out their people and environment to meet our consumer demand might actually have to switch to other products. Or even worse they may not only switch but may raise the wages of the lowest workers to some drastic rate above forty-cents an hour so as to stimulate an internal economy.
I will go to a doctor tomorrow and see if he can make these bad feelings go away. I hope he cure whatever parasite is in my brain that is allowing me to enjoy life for what it is. I hope, but I fear it will not be. I am far beyond the salvation of any three-word phrase.