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When you pass someone in the hallway in a familiar setting such as a college or office, it’s common courtesy to say “hi” to them. The same holds true when you enter a waiting area, elevator or other small area and there’s only one other person there. Sometimes, a question such as “how are you?” or “how’s going is asked?” and this is where it starts getting interesting.
When people make this kind of small talk, they often do it on auto pilot because the typical response they get is “good” and then they reply with “good.” So I recently tried an experiment. When someone passing me by or sharing an elevator with me would ask me how I was, I replied with “I’m dying” nonchalantly. Seven out of eight times, they said “good” or “cool” – they had no idea what I said – the other person asked “figuratively or literally?”.
It seems like practically every day I drive by a dead squirrel in the road. I never thought much about it until yesterday when I slammed on my brakes to avoid hitting one. At first, I figured that it’s because there’s a lot of squirrels and a lot of cars where I live. But there are a lot of other animals too, and I rarely see them lying dead in the road. But watching this squirrel dart back and forth clued me in on the problem, and it’s a problem I see with a lot of people.
In my many years of driving, I’ve seen probably thousands of squirrels darting across busy roads. Most of the time, they could have escaped doom by doing one simple thing – being more decisive. A typical animal will start crossing the road, and if it sees a car coming at it it’ll turn back, otherwise it will continue across the road. Squirrels on the other hand dart out and then turn around when the see a car, then think they can beat it so go back across, then get almost to the other side and then turn back, and by then the car has stopped and they continue to other side. While this zig-zag pattern of unpredictability has its place in the world – this is what makes a ride like the Tower of Terror in Disney World exciting and unpredictable.
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