It always astounds me just how well conditioned the general public is to follow orders. On a recent train journey home from a day of activism in London I sat and watched as the humans boarded like cattle and crammed into every inch of the coach. I noticed that there were a number of seats in the adjoining carriage which remained empty and then saw the sign for ‘First Class’.
There were a number of elderly and women left standing and as I went to offer my seat I felt a sudden compulsion to remain seated. There were enough seats for the majority of the carriage to be seated if only they had the gumption to sit in first class. There was not a sign of a ticket conductor, not that it should have mattered and no one whatsoever in the first class coach. I had a moment of inner turmoil as I realised I was not going to offer my seat but the anger that started to build up inside me that the humans just followed orders and refused to sit in an empty carriage took over the gentlemanly conduct that would usually rule.
This feature of human obedience befell me again just this week at Victoria Tube Station when I came across another of the ludicrous pay-per-pee toilets that have sprung up across the country, whilst awaiting a meeting at a station and following the umpteenth coffee that morning, I became a victim of cause and effect; I had too much to drink, I had to have a pee.
I wandered around for a few seconds and found the bathroom only to confronted by the turnstile which was asking for 30p, I was not best amused and almost found myself reaching into my pocket when I stopped myself. Besides having no change, I annoyed myself at the very thought of paying to use the public toilet. So I leapt over the barrier (much to the disgust of the queue) and hurried downstairs, I wondered if 30p really would buy you a better toilet experience. Upon entering the gents I was left almost speechless by the state of them and my question duly answered, 30p a hit and still there was; little or no paper, no urinal, wet toilet seats, one hand dryer, no hot water and an odour that you can only find in a public convenience for men. You could not make it up. As one person explained to me they call it “extreme capitalism” whereby they charge you for the pleasure of utilising your own biological functions. As I exited I faced down several frowns from the line now built up and returned to my coffee. It may seem trivial but at some point someone sat (probably on the toilet) and said: “I reckon we could charge them and they would pay for it, regardless of the state of we keep them in.” and we just carry on oblivious and without questioning what we are doing.
Why are we conditioned to follow the rules, however ridiculous they are and not question them? I know some will say we have to have rules to keep order and not to sweat the small stuff but some of are plain mind-boggling and they introduce this stuff so that we get used to it. I guess I will continue to keep sweating on the small stuff and encourage others to #askmorequestions