Single Serving Friends

Well, its 7:30 AM in Bangkok right now. Of the 15 hours spent flying from LAX to HK I believe I used 9-10 sleeping, which would explain why I’ve been tossing and turning for the last couple of hours and have finally thrown away the dream of getting to sleep. I’ve decided to stop wasting time, and just blog and read a bit more of Pilgrimage by Paulo Coehlo which I started while flying, before starting my first day on this new adventure!

Something I’ve been extremely guilty of while blogging, aside from while writing poetry, is procrastinating posts instead of writing about something while its fresh in my mind. Not that writing poetry is easier than writing posts like these, but because once you have an abstraction in your mind if you don’t write it immediately it will go away. I referenced ‘single serving friends’ from Fight Club constantly while in Europe. I feel that my reluctant disposition towards single serving friends has been withering, and that my open-mindedness towards approaching and meeting new people has been gradually revitalizing.

And now to tell you all a story:

It was February 7th. Pharaoh had been patiently waiting for an uber to McCarran airport while dreaming about how incredible Barcelona and teaching would be. The thought of going out with like-minded people who have similar interests, and being engulfed by a sea of smiling faces while teaching was extraordinarily seductive.

The uber was less than a minute away when Pharaoh decided to start getting his bags and making his way outside. It was a gentle and still evening with veiled stars. The night was pitch black. Pharaoh hadn’t slept this night, despite two bowls of oregano, and was a bit tired, but was greeted by a jubilant uber drive in his late 20s or early 30s. Although, tired, Pharaoh did his best to talk to the driver. He listened to the driver’s night, and then was shocked by driver’s incorrect reference to Fight Club.

The driver said that he enjoyed being an uber driver because its like in Fight Club, single serving friends of which he’d truly hope to see again one day. Pharaoh didn’t doubt the genuineness of the comment, but couldn’t restrain himself in correcting the driver. He told the driver that ‘single serving friends’ is really meant to depict the superficial interactions we are subjected to in society, in the service industry, on planes, wherever, and that they only have one use similar to how everything on a plane is single serving.

“Everywhere I travel, tiny life. Single-serving sugar, single pat of butter. The microwave Cordon Bleu hobby kit. Shampoo- conditioner combos sample-packaged mouthwash, tiny bars of soap. The people I meet on each flight? They’re single serving friends

-Tyler Durden

How’s that working?


Being clever.


Keep it up then.

-Tyler Durden

The uber driver was either impressed, or did a remarkable job of convincing Pharaoh that he was. When Pharaoh was asked what other movies he liked and could analyze for the driver.  Pharaoh mentioned Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Life of Pi his first and second favorite movies, respectively.

He described that Eternal Sunshine was a haunting lesson that teaches the audience the utility of a breakup, or of hardships in general. Breakups are a delicate time in our lives, when we evaluate ourselves and what we want in others. Its a time where may feel hurt, or relieved, but either way, the experience from the relationship is a means of a new birth and opportunity to love again more courageously and more aware given accountability for what went wrong, or a deeper insight of the qualities of a person that we should be looking for. Life of Pi is a tear jerking yet uplifting story of Pi’s use of his undying faith which is what allowed him to let go of all the terrible things that happened to him and survive at sea. Pharaoh described not only that each animal in the movie was representative of a character, but also different emotions Pi experienced while floating across the empty sea battling his own egoic mind. Pharaoh could have gone on and on discussing different symbols, the island, the tooth, the meerkats, etc. but the uber driver commented that he would need to see both and expressed his gratitude for Pharaoh’s recommendations and analysis.

After arriving at McCarran, Pharaoh and the driver thanked one another and wished each other well. Over the next couple of months, what was extremely difficult at first became a transformative experience.

Pharaoh was devastated by how wrong he was with his colleagues after the first few incredible days touristing in Barcelona and the first week when the CELTA experience was still novel. His colleagues were friendly, but overly giddy, seemingly fake, and only included Pharaoh if it were in a massive group, but never went out of their way other wise to be friendly. But what would result in them NOT being fake, and being ‘real?’ Not being overly giddy and actually going out of their way to be a friend of the Pharaoh’s outside the International House? Are those prerequisites for a person to be ‘real?’ Are they some sort of simulation if those prerequisites aren’t met?

They likely reflected Pharaoh’s inability to small talk, and to hang out in massive groups constantly. Pharaoh learned, that although they may have not ALL been ideal candidates for friends, that Pharaoh received what he projected, and had been negative and impatient instead of waiting for the relationships to naturally blossom as they could have. He let the conflict between a select few incinerate any chance of friendship with the rest into ash. Although feeling like an outcast at school, Pharaoh made a few amazing friends on weekends. However, in order for these people to have become ‘real’ friends, they, like all of Pharaoh’s best and closest friends, were all novel and could have potentially been single serving.

Pharaoh can recreate a conversation he had with a guy he met at George Payne’s English Pub, his weekly karaoke retreat. He met an extremely upbeat and confident Indian guy, who actually turned out to be the sister of a girl he had met the previous week who was studying. Pharaoh vented about how his scenario at school and struggle to get to a point where he felt all relationships were single serving were taking away overall, from the Barcelona experience, although it was still wonderful.

“You never know when you’re going to see someone again. You can never predict if someone is going to be single serving like you say, or whether they’re going to become one of your closest friends. Like right now, you’re putting out a depressed mood which is fine with me because I like you, and I want to see you change, but bro, know this, I’m going back to Canada for school tomorrow, and I’m only visiting my sister. I likely will never see you again, but does that mean you shouldn’t be happy that you met me? Life is fleeting rapidly, so take advantage of each moment and all the random encounters while abroad bro. Now lets go grab a drink and talk about something more positive.” -Indian guy

Once Pharaoh’s CELTA ended his state had changed because the stress load was over and he was spared from the overwhelming negative feelings as the classes outcast.  Although Pharaoh is not a talented small talker, he tries to listen more than he speaks when unsure of what to talk about, and keep things light-hearted. He may share a little, but most importantly has learned to try to always put out good vibes in order to enjoy them reflected back. Single serving or not, at the end of the day the people are projections of our innermost feelings at the time.

Being present and putting out a higher version of my most inner Pharaoh can be difficult at times, but my last week in Barcelona as well as in Budapest, I felt that my attitude had improved tremendously. Even if people turn out to see single serving, and I never see them again, it isn’t what matters. Its the precious, organic experience in itself that does.

Looking back on it, although the uber driver misinterpreted the scene of Fight Club with his attitude he would likely be happier than me if I keep worrying about that which is out of my control. Single serving or not, its best to not worry and be grateful of the moment, instead of missing it elsewhere in my mind. Gratitude of the encounter and positive and hopeful vibes emitted are what will allow for greater memories and reception of what was released, and like the uber driver said, “I hope to meet you again one day.”


-Pharaoh Maktuk



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