Apr 7, 2006

The After You Syndrome

You have seen various TV spoofs on the ultra-polite 'after you, sir' syndrome, right? The lampoon-slapstick bits where two badly dressed actors stand at a door, or at a crowded loo (usually full but for one booth, both with crossed legs and much pent-up demand on their faces) saying, 'after you' and making no progress whatsoever. Right?

Yesterday, I took a rickshaw home after a party (I had to drink the free beer, so the bike had to stay parked for the night) and I was involved in, as a spectator, in the automotive version of that game. Motorcyclists, especially fanatic ones, usually develop a sixth sense and an ability to spot unexpected motion in peripheral vision. I spotted two parked rickshaws and behind them, I saw a labourer type dressed in a stained singlet, towel around waist and bottle of Aquafina in the hand start to cross the road from behind the two. The Auto I was in, the driver never spotted the guy. Until that is, he appeared squarely in the middle of the road, with a red laser dot on his chest that said, 'tag, you're it.'

So I'm bracing for impact, or at least hard braking, locked wheels... something. The driver basically rolled off the throttle and waited for the man to react. Get this, the man is rocking unsteadily on his feet, and I'd be willing to believe that the situation hadn't even sunk in yet. But no, my driver decides, 'After you!'

No impact happened, of course. But as we passed him, he happened to teeter backwards. So we only knocked the plastic bottle instead of human flesh.

This is crazy. If I were to extend the analogy to lazy cagers, they'd probably do the same thing. They would also wait for the motorcyclist/pedestrian/whatever to react. This is crucial avoidance opportunity being squandered.

Moral: Don't wait for the guy to react. Act. Avoid. Brake. Do whatever is needed to get out of the situation. Because whether you like it or not, the other chap is waiting for you to do it first.

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