Friday, May 23, 2014

Lemmings and Lemons... by Ben Hazlett


One time in college I arrived at the door to the lecture hall only to see a lot of people standing and even sitting outside the closed door.  I assessed the scene and without giving it much thought waited with all the rest.  After some time, a girl walked passed all of us, yanked the door open and when in.  None of us made eye contact with each other as we filed into the room that had been open the entire time we were waiting.  

So, that raises the question, how often do we do things just because other people are doing them? Even better question is what about when we don't!  Here's a few examples of things I have either observed, thought about, or done... I won't say which.

1. Have you thought how much time you could save in the buffet line by just eating the food as you go down the line? You wouldn't need a plate, silverware, or a table. Since no one is serving you, you wouldn't need to leave a tip either! This would be even more helpful in cases where you find yourself stuck behind the guy who is trying to balance 5 plates, 2 drinks, and 4 deserts as he meticulously surveys every last inch of his food options. 

2. It would be very handy, though admittedly dangerous and probably illegal, to mount a water-balloon launcher on your car.  It would certainly help with road rage.

3. This one I know you have at least thought about: You're at Walmart and there is are 2 out of 40 lanes open to serve 300 people... so you look at the self check and think, perfect, maybe I won't have to sleep here afterall.  You scan the first few things perfectly. Then you set the milk down and the machine says something like "unexpected item in bagging area, please wait for assistance," which of course is busy "assisting" other's having the same problem.  And just forget trying to do produce. "Please wait for assistance," that at this point may arrive next week. Come on, admit it.  You have at least once seriously considered calling 911 for assistance instead. Repeat this 25 more times and you're home free.  Just don't look up, because the people who were in 300th place behind you when you jumped to the "quicker" self check out have already made it to their cars.

4. Red Robin always has that TV in the floor in the entry way.  On more than one occasion it happens to be the only set in the place playing the basketball game with my team.  So when the hostess says "where would you like to sit?," I have often wanted to grab a menu and say "how about right here," and flop down right by the TV. That's where all the balloons are anyway. 

5. We all have that family member or friend who asks us that question that is impossible to answer honestly right?  Five minutes after we were commenting to someone else how horrible their new boyfriend is, they ask us what we think about them.  Even worse is when your uncle asks you if you think the comb-over makes him look like he has more hair.  That warning light comes on that says if you say what you are thinking, they will hate you... but if you don't, not only will you be a lier, but you might be held responsible for a terrible divorce or a creepy looking hairstyle. 

I could continue, however, I think I will end by sharing an example of why sometimes it's a good thing to do exactly the opposite of what everyone else is doing.  It was 1100pm and we were at Winco doing some late night grocery shopping while grandpa watched our sleeping kids.  We were both tired and we collected our stuff as quickly as we could amidst the chaos of the late night restocking. When we arrive at the checkout lines, there were only 2 open.  One had 8 people in it with karts pile to the brim. The other had 3 people in it, all with much less in their karts.  It was an obvious choice... then I saw the little old lady slowly beginning to put one item at a time on the conveyer belt and I realized why everyone else had picked the other line. I was tired and admittedly not in my usual chivalrous form, and I may or may not have felt a bit annoyed about having to wait.  I turned to ask Mary if she thought we should jump lines and realized she wasn't next to me.  She had gone forward in line and introduced herself to the senior gal. I heard her say, "you look tired, would it be okay if I helped you with these groceries?" "Why would you want to do that for me?" came the reply.  "Because I can" Mary said.  She then proceeded to help her place bread, and milk and oranges and lemons and every item on the belt.  Mary followed up by bagging all of it to.  Meanwhile I stood by our kart feeling a mixture of pride in my lovely wife and discouragement with myself that I didn't even think of breaking the social mold and offering assistance rather than being put out about waiting.  The crazy thing was that Mary not only succeeded in helping someone's sweet little grandmother, but she also made the line go way faster than the other one at the same time!   

So you could take from this that we should all do more things like walking out "do not exit" doors because they are right by where we parked, or you could just decide that sometimes it makes sense to "play by the rules" and sometimes we need to bag someone's groceries.