Leonard, George Burr. The Transformation
Once a few years back I flew from New York to San Francisco feeling a joy and exuberance I could barely restrain. I had been involved in a project that had seemed unlikely if not impossible of success and yet had succeeded beyond my highest expectations. It was one of those moments when all things, including dancing in the aisles, seem possible. My companions on the flight were a man in his thirties and a woman in her early twenties, both good friends. Not long after takeoff the three of us managed to squeeze into the two seats on the left of the aisle.
As the plane rose, we seemed to rise much higher. We were completely oblivious of the other passengers. We talked about the incredible weeks just passed and the more incredible possibilities of the future. Our voices rose. We hugged and kissed each other with passion and belief. We wept tears of joy. About two-thirds of the way through the flight we became aware of the other passengers. Surely they had been shocked and outraged by our behavior. But no, it was all exactly the same. The robots applied themselves to their paperwork.
The stewardesses moved efficiently along the aisles. Their smiles revealed no change of attitude or emotion as their glances met ours. It was as if we had been encased in clear plastic so that our energy could in no way infect the other passenger or otherwise influence the functioning of the cabin. The airline, after all, is professional. And so the flight ended and we came to earth. A month later, I joined the robots again. No trouble.