Thursday, 26 May 2011

Mr Self Destruct

It was a lovely sunny day, albeit a bit breezy, so I took a work break outside. A bloke I sometimes chat to from the business next door wandered over and we put the world to rights for a few minutes. Then we noticed a, shall we say somewhat portly, gentleman in his 50s across the road throwing rubbish into an industrial wheely-bin.

Suddenly he stopped, patted his pockets and peered over the top of the bin. He'd clearly accidentally discarded a personal item. Not very tall, he was only just head and shoulders over the lip of the bin. We watched him peering in until he located the item, then he began trying to reach for it. Standing on tiptoe it was obvious he still couldn't get at it with his short arms and round body. He walked away, towards a pile of old wooden pallets.

"He's not..." said my friend.
"He is!" I replied.
"No way will that take his weight." my friend commented as we watched, agog.

The man rested the pallet against the side of the bin, without propping it against anything. Then he tried to climb up it. He actually tried to climb up it. He really, actually did. That's the part which still confuses me - he was in his 50s and he still tried to climb up it.

He failed. First foot up, fine... second foot up and he crashed straight through the pallet as it simultaneously slid to the ground. He must have lacerated his shin, and he also bashed his stupid face against the side of the bin as he went down.

"I think I called that one." said my friend.
"I think you did." I replied. We probably should have high-fived at that point.

He picked up the remains of the pallet and tried to preserve his dignity by walking nonchalently away, limping slightly, unware that he'd been observed. He dropped the pallet, returned and started trying to scramble over the lip of the bin. While he was  balanced half-in the bin with his legs dangling in the air, the wind blew the lid closed on top of him. By this time we were both bent double, dribbling with mirth.

Now obviously getting quite angry, the man slammed the lid back open but carried on trying to reach his lost item. Just then a younger, taller man arrived and calmly reached inside, easily retrieving the lost object and handing it to him.

This display of shocking stupidity was clearly very funny, but also bloody scary. This was a man with at least 50 years of life experience under his belt and my colleague had spoken to him a few times and could attest to the fact that he seemed to be of sound mind. And yet, in a moment of crisis, he acted like an eight year old. Presumably, at the end of his working day he was going to get into a motor vehicle and drive down roads crowded with other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists whilst using the same brain which had told him it would be ok to try and do something totally impossible.

And we see this sort of thing day in and day out. Just listening to travel reports on the radio every day it is quite clear to me that a confusingly large percentage of the adult population of the UK (and probably the world) should really never leave their homes and attempt to interact with anything at all, let alone large, metal, fast-moving vehicles.

I can only draw one conclusion from the above observations.

We're doomed. As a race we are poised to slowly self-destruct. And quite frankly, sometimes I think we bloody deserve it.



  1. Great post. I learned to drive as an adult, not a teenager, and one thing I concluded from it was: you should not learn to drive as an adult. Nothing to do with reflexes or reaction times, you are just so much more aware of the fact of the potential damage you can cause; it was nerve-shredding. Mr Self-Destruct above probably has 30 years of muscle memory of driving, so he'll probably make it home ok. Mind you, I think he'd probably lose out to crows and jackdaws on basic problem-solving tasks.

  2. I have to ask: what was the personal item?

  3. Thumper - I too learned as an adult and I know exactly what you mean! If I could I'd have compound eyes grafted on to the sides of my head.

    John - Unfortunately it was too small and too far away to see, although it did look yellow... possibly his brain...