Hell is other people getting their luggage.

Just multiply the number of people here by a thousand (my cut and pasting hand got tired). We’re talking ’80s movie ‘Zulu’. Only with luggage.

You know the way it works: person A can’t see if their bag is coming because all the others are in front of them, crowding the carousel like they want to make love to it. person B thinks they can see their bag coming, but because they didnt quite make it to the front they cant really do anything about that. As for person C, he feels smug because HE was agressive on the travelator, quick through immigration and quick to the trolleys. He is the lucky one because now, he has pride of place – squeezed up shins touching the carousel, master of all he surveys. Until of course, his bag finally DOES arrive, and he can’t actually get it off the carousel because people A and B are so closely crowded in behind him that he is now trapped in a sort of carousel holding pen. And so it goes on, the shuffling and the vying for space, and the bitter, barely-held-back hatred that binds all these people together like a… well to be honest, as an observer it’s almost amusing – sort of like a passive agressive mardi gras of luggage collection.

All human stupidity in a tightly-crowded nutshell

I often sit back and watch baggage carousels when I travel, and marvel at how amazingly well they encapsulate all that is stupid about people. There’s usually a line on the floor about 2 feet back from the carousel. The idea is, if you all stand behind that line, and keep your giant suitcases and overloaded trolleys with you, everyone can see their own luggage coming, and have space to go and get it, and have space to bring it back. Simple right? Except it isn’t. And as I sat tonight (or this morning, or whatever time of day it is now) at carousel 2 in LA it became clear to me: people are idiots. hardwired to be selfish, and stupid, and devoid of plain common sense. No wonder society’s so screwed at the minute.

Dealing with the realisation that people are idiots.

Up until now this blog has been pretty upbeat but those who know me know I have a huge misanthropic streak underneath all my cheerfulness and niceness. In a nutshell I find about 90% of the people I meet annoying and as you can imagine that makes it hard to be zen or taoist or buddhist or in any way enlightened. It’s something I’ve had to deal with both in my job and in my life, and the best way I’ve found to get round it is to either find peoples stupidity amusing, or – if I can’t manage that – to at least find it interesting and think about it like a case study.

Anyway I learnt some interesting things on a course recently that touch on why people are idiots, and why they can’t wait behind the line at baggage carousels. The reason is somewhere in between some John Donne poetry, Hegel’s dialectic, the nature of atomic physics and a story about Incredible Hulk and Brain (from Pinky and the Brain) trying to drive a drivers ed car together.

If you want to find out what I’m talking about, all will be revealed. But it’ll have to be tomorrow. Any minute now I will have to set off to board flight #2 – overnight to JFK via crushing self-pity and a stop in Jetlag City.

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2 Responses to Hell is other people getting their luggage.

  1. Philip says:

    Have you considered that all the people at the baggage carousel are infact living in the Tao. 68 ‘All of them embody the virtue of non-competition. Not that they don’t love to compete, but they do it in a spirit of play. In this they are like children and in harmony with the Tao.’ And anyway when you are over six foot tall you have no problem seeing your bag and whipping it off the carousel in a great swinging motion that poleaxes anyone in the kill zone. Perhaps you are a real Taoist traveller – 27 ‘A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving’. Take care Dougsan. Philip

  2. Pingback: The Grand Unified Theory of Why People Suck | The Tao of Doug

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