When I worked as a valet, I began to notice how people cross the street. It’s fascinating.
These are the types of people you see cross the street depending on time of day and where:
- Waits for the signal before crossing, as cars trickle by.
- Doesn’t even know the signal exists. They cross the street anyway and flip the bird to any car with the right of way.
- Checks the signal to cross and then looks down the road to see if they could cross ahead of time. If there is a sufficient gap, they’ll dart across.
- The guy (generally) who takes two steps off the curb before realizing he won’t make it across the street without the high probablity of getting swiped by a tow truck.
- And finally, the people who refuse to cross the street, ghost town or not, until they are given the signal to.
- One more – the group of friends cross the street. Whenever a group of friends crosses the street, someone gets left behind. Either everyone crosses except one person or there is only one person who hoped the group would be a little brave.
The group that interests me is #5, the people who wait until they’re told to cross. No matter how wide open the streets are, some people never cross unless someone tells them to. John Taylor Gatto, a school teacher of 30 years, wouldn’t be surprised, “We’ve built a way of life that depends on people doing what they are told because they don’t know how to tell themselves what to do.”
When I did my taxes at H&R Block, I didn’t realize how unprepared I was until I was already there. I pulled out my computer, hoping to look up receipts in my email right there. Ah. But no WiFi.
“I’m surprised you guys don’t have WiFi.”
“Yeah, it’s funny. A lot of customers have complained about that and asked why we don’t.”
“Well… why don’t you?”
“I don’t know.”
I considered offering to run to Best Buy to pick one up, but I was too busy having the time of my life looking up a thousand receipts at the WiFi enabled coffee shop a block away!
People don’t like to initiate. I see this everywhere. When there are two lanes to turn left at a stoplight, all the cars filter into one of the lanes. No one wants to be first. People would rather hang around and wait for someone else to open the door for them. Yet, there is no long term reward there.
After 12 years of being given assignments to complete, books (or Clif Notes) to read, multiple choice bubble tests, and an assigned schedule, the main export of school is compliance. A quick journey to Facebook can confirm people don’t learn proper gramar (<- see what I did there?). The confusion people have between you’re and your marches on.
If we live in a world where it seems most people need to be told what to do, then one of the most valuable skills has to be Cartography. The world is, and always will be, in need of mapmakers.