06 March 2012

Esprit d'escalier

I believe firmly in conditioning. I believe in encouraging desirable behaviour and discouraging undesirable behaviour. It might give people an incentive to behave in a societally desirable way. And that will not work very often; who says people see the causal relationship? And if they do; would they perhaps get recalcitrant instead? But it's also a matter of principle. But I have to be faster.

"Is that your bag"? At some rather late hour I was about to leave one of the university buildings, my bag on my back. Just before I reached the door a lady in cleaner's garments walked in. She immediately bellowed the mentioned question in my general direction. What happened to "excuse me; may I ask if that is your bag?" It took me a moment to digest the question; I had hardly seen the woman coming, I didn't expect to be addressed without introduction, and I had not noticed the bag in the corner. When I had interpreted the situation I mumbled "no, it isn't" - and the woman was gone. Chance for conditioning lost.

If you just are executive enough you can be quite rude to people, and have buggered off before anyone has managed to come up with an appropriate response. It leaves one with a feeling of dissatisfaction. I find myself in such situations on a reasonably regular basis. I should be more ready to be critical in human interaction...

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