Did you ever feel like the title character from the first “Terminator” movie? No, I don’t mean like a relentless killing machine. (If you do feel that way, you might consider seeking some help.)

Did you ever feel like the title character from the first “Terminator” movie?


No, I don’t mean like a relentless killing machine. (If you do feel that way, you might consider seeking some help.)


No, I mean the part where the Terminator’s robot brain weighs various replies to a verbal query.


You see the replies as they appear in his maniacal, mechanical mind, and then the one best suited to the occasion flashes.


The Terminator then repeats it out loud, like when he’s asked if he has a dead cat in his room.


A Terminator moment came to me at a local supermarket checkout line recently.


The young lady at the cash register gave the obligatory hail, “How are you this evening?”


This was an easy one. Didn’t need the Terminator moment. This was autopilot.


“Good, thank you.”


And she began to ring up my groceries.


Then the young man acting as “bagger,” asked, “Would you like paper or plastic, sir?”


Another easy one.


“Plastic’ll be fine,” I responded without needing to consult a list in my maniacal, non-mechanical mind.


Then he threw me.


“Plastic is a wonderful choice, sir.”


Huh?


The list of replies flashed in my brain:


1) Thanks, I’m pretty happy with it.


2) Thanks, your approval means a great deal to me.


3) Uh, OK.


I replied, “Uh, OK.”


Then he tossed me another verbal knuckleball.


“You’re truly an intelligent person, sir.”


Now, this was delivered with all the sincerity of Eddie Haskell complimenting June Cleaver’s wardrobe.


The replies popped into my head once again:


1) Hey, you graduate from Columbia, sonny?


2) Cogito ergo sum.


3) Uh, OK.


I replied, “Uh, OK.”


Finally, he had bagged my goods in plastic as requested. And he left me with a parting remark that was – and I had never experienced this in real life before – actually dripping with sarcasm.


“You have just a wonderful night, sir.”


The replies appeared in a synaptic flash.


1) What time do you get off, kid? ’Cause I’m going to be out in the parking lot with eight or nine blood relatives.


2) Well, you just have a nifterino night yourself there, Sporty Spice.


3) Uh, OK.


And I, of course, replied, “Uh, OK.”


Maybe I’m just programmed to always pick the third alternative.


Frank Mulligan is an editor in GateHouse Media New England’s Plymouth, Mass., office, and can be reached at fmulligan@wickedlocal.com.