I am always reading about the things, which set us apart from our ape ancestors––the possession of an opposable thumb; the ability to fashion and use complex tools; the existence of religion; the capability to bring about our own Armageddon––all of these are routinely cited as qualities, which distinguish us from our forebears. As, too, is the possession of forethought.
Forethought is the ability to plan ahead; to link up a chain of likely––albeit imaginary––future events and so arrive at an appropriate course of action. It is a skill, which has evolved over subsequent generations of humankind; a skill, which must have evolutionary merit, which must have been very handy when out hunting woolly Mammoths, no less essential when deciding where best to settle down for the night and make camp. It is a skill, which appears entirely absent in railway station concourses.
Commuting to work, how many times have I found myself in a long queue waiting to pass through the automated ticket barriers, only for the person standing directly in front of me to decide to start looking for his/her ticket when he/she reaches the actual barrier itself. What have they been thinking about while waiting in line? Did they have no pre-conceived notion of the action that was going to be required of them at the end of the queue?
He/she rummages in his/her pockets/handbag in supreme and sedate ignorance, whilst behind him/her a queue of seasoned, travel-hardened commuters wait and fume, every one of them ready and prepared with their ticket/Oyster held in their hand.
I might be more tolerant, but I know that this exact same person will be the one that I will find myself behind once again when I am trying to pass through the railway station exit doors and who will have stopped directly outside, looking aimlessly around, trying to decide which direction to go, whilst at the same time blocking the entire gangway for everyone else.
But, hey! Why am I being so impatient? It’s not as though I’ve got an important woolly Mammoth hunt to rush off to.
© Simon Turner-Tree
Simon Turner-Tree likes to always be prepared.