“I cry, and also, I really cry. Meaning, not just as my client, but I start crying, too. Sometimes it happens. I don’t know why, exactly. Maybe because he was somebody’s grandpa. And he looked like a nice one, a nice man. Maybe something about the way his arm fell against the guardrail on the hospital bed, nothing dramatic or poignant. Just a part of his body going thunk against metal. Maybe because I could sort of tell, when Grandpa was looking at his grandson for the last time, looking into his eyes, looking around in there trying to find him, he didn’t find him, he found me instead, and he knew what had happened, and he didn’t even look mad. Just hurt” (Yu 11).
In the world of “Standard Loneliness Package,” all forms of negative human experiences can be outsourced to other humans. The nameless narrating protagonist works for a company specializing in the outsourcing of negative emotions from one human to another. At this job the protagonist is forced to feel physical and emotional discomfort so that privileged distant strangers don’t have to. During the particular work ticket described in the paragraph above the protagonist loses his composure and is overcome by the emotions being outsourced to him. Having processed the deaths of many clients’ family members, the protagonist wouldn’t normally be so shaken by a similar ticket, but this one is different. The preliminary list of reasons for crying listed by the protagonist can be largely ignored as they don’t give significant insight into why this death was so difficult for the protagonist to deal with. The word “maybe” is neither concise nor definitive and its use in these early sentences helps to emphasize exactly how ordinary this situation is for the protagonist. He even admits that there’s “nothing dramatic or poignant” about the experience (Yu 11). The protagonist breaks only after the grandfather’s realization that the narrator is present within his grandson. The protagonist describes the grandfather as “hurt” after failing to find his grandson. This suggests that unlike the grandson, the grandfather hasn’t chosen to outsource his negative emotions. This is suggestive of a generation gap within the culture of this grandson and grandfather. Growing up and living in a world with a certain technology keeps one from experiencing life without that technology. Specifically in the context of this paragraph, the grandson has chosen to take advantage of a seemingly beneficial piece of technology available to him. That said, the grandson sees nothing wrong with having another person feel his negative experiences for him. Conversely, the grandfather is upset by the thought that his grandson can’t be mentally present in his final moments. Essentially the grandfather didn’t spend his last few moments with his grandson, but rather a stranger peering out through a shell of someone else.
– Jacob Paul