When I was in driver's ed, we watched a Disney movie featuring Goofy. In the film, we see how Goofy's attitude changes between being pedestrian Goofy and driver Goofy. Driver Goofy is pretty much road-rage personified. He is annoyed at the entire universe and gets really upset when regular occurances such as the light changing or a pedestrian walking out in front of him come his way. He's pretty upset that these pedestrian would dare to use the crosswalk because that three seconds he sits waiting for them to walk in front of his car are the difference between being on time and being horribly, horribly late. Then Goofy gets out of his car and becomes happy go-lucky pedestrian Goofy, walking about, whistling and looking both ways before he's nearly run over by another driver Goofy. The point of the film--other than killing 10 minutes of class time--is to make you consider that in your lifetime, you will be both driver Goofy and pedestrian Goofy. And how quickly you'll forget that you were one or the other, based on whether you're in or out of your car.
I've certainly observed this in my own life and not just when it comes to being a driver or a pedestrian. I've also noticed in relation to using the lap lanes for swimming.
The thing is that at one time or another in your life, if you swim laps, you're going to face this situation. I will call it: I've got a lap lane vs I need a lap lane. If you're lucky, when you arrive at the pool to swim laps, there will be a vacant lap lane that you can jump right in (or more likely ease yourself into since the Y seems to keep the temperature of the pool 40 below zero or warm enough to cook a pot roast. Never a happy medium...but I digress). But if you arrive during a busy time of day, you may find all the lanes full, a lot of times with one person per lane.
Now begins the big waiting game to see if anyone will share with you. Most of the time, if you stand there and look longingly enough at the lanes or send out your pyschic message, "Please, please, please, please let me share" someone will pick up on it. And offer to share the lane with you.
Of course, there's always the chance the shoe is on the other foot. You're swiming along and notice a fellow swimmer looking forlornly at the lap lanes. Your choices are that you can stop and offer to share or you can hope that your fellow lap swimmers are better people than you are and offer to share. (Oh, we're so greedy, we lap swimmers!)
But what is fascinating to me is how quickly we sometimes forget the genorsity of others. I'm willing to share a lap lane with just about anyone. I generally prefer to split a lane down the middle so you don't have to worry about one person being stronger and faster than the other. Also, I have to say that I'd strongly prefer you have googles if you're going to share a lane with me since then both of us can be aware of where the other person is and not crash into each other in the lane.
But what's interesting is how once you're in the pool, you can quickly forget the genorsity of others. Often times, those who are the most vocal about how everyone should share when they don't have a lap lane are the people who won't share when it comes their time to have to share. For example, you're sharing the lane with someone who was there first. They get out, leaving you with the whole lap lane to yourself (ahhhhhh, the luxury). Then a person comes in and looks forelornly at the lanes. And yet the person who not ten minutes before was in the exact same boat will ignore the new swimmer because--ha, ha! I've got a lap lane.
But here's the thing. For the most part, you tend to see the same group of swimmers on a regular basis. And it doesn't take long for you to get a reputation. If you share on a regular basis, odds are most of your fellow swimmers will share with you. If you are a lane hog, odds are this will be remembered. Your only recorse here is to wear multiple swimsuits so you won't be as quickly recognized as the lane hog.
My point to all of this--and I'm sure you're wondering by now if I'd have one and not just blater on--is that I find it fascinating in human behavoir of the expectations we have of how we should be treated but that doesn't always come across in how we treat and interact with others. Whether it be sharing a lane or being driver Goofy or pedestrian Goofy.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 5/19/2006 08:45:00 AM