The Complaint Department: Metacognition

The customer addled up to the counter before the obligatory call for “Next.” He wore a pretense of authority, obviously unable to admit his predetermined disadvantaged state. The clerk scanned for the tell-tale signs of betrayal: skin pigment tone changes, muscles tensing, or the slightest of a quiver in the lips.

The customer pulled a receipt out of his pocket. This one knew the rules; no receipt, no return or exchange. He laid the receipt on the counter, followed by a bag imprinted with the store's logo. The clerk didn't show any signs of noticing. A finger tapped the receipt, followed by the preliminary attention-getting clearing of the throat, “A-hem. I would like to make a return.”

The clerk’s eyes narrowed, and captured the customer in the pinpoint crossfire of a pair of steel blue eyes. The customer braced himself and continued. “I would like to return this brain, and either get my money back, or exchange it for another.”

The clerk gauged the nerve of the customer. No flush in the cheeks, no tensing of the face muscles, no quiver in the lips. A peculiar staunchness stood before him, someone with spine. The clerk took greater notice. This customer was prepared, determined, and parried before the first thrust was even presented. “And what is wrong with this brain?” the clerk sneered through gritted teeth.

“It doesn’t work right,” the customer asserted. “Its thinking isn’t correct. I believe it to be a faulty product. It is certainly one of poor craftsmanship.”

The clerk weighed the words carefully, and retorted, “And just what makes you believe that the thinking isn’t correct?”

“I have thought about it,” the customer responded coolly. “I've thought about it a lot, and I find it to be presumptuous, and rather maladaptive in its adaptations. I surely want something that works better than this contraption, and if that isn't an option, then I would like a full refund. Believe me, I can do without one of these, thank you.”

There was a short silence. “This determination of bad thinking," the clerk continued with a procedural tone, "by way of the process of thinking about thinking, presents a situation that I am not prepared to address. Please, allow me to call the manager.”

The clerk's hand paused ever so slightly as he reached for the phone.

- The Fool
- photo artist unknown