February 11, 2017

Imagine this. You’re driving along one day, minding your own private business (into which murky realms it’s probably best we don’t stray here).

It’s slow-going stuff. Bumper to bumper. And not in a disco-frisky Grace-Jones kinda way.

You glance down a side street and there’s some geezer in a Skoda Octavia trying to catch your eye, hoping you’ll be the one to let him out.

What do you do?

No need to answer that hypophora, Dear Reader, cos we’re about to lay the antipohora right on ya, so to speak. What you do is sternly meet his eye. Then, just as sternly, look away.

But wait, you protest, yielding momentarily to an uncharacteristically altruistic impulse, isn’t that a bit mean? What harm could come of giving way to one bloke in a cappuccino beige Skoda Wagon?

What harm?! Have you finally and irreconcilably taken leave of the last few remnants of your senses?

You should never ever let anyone out of anywhere. Not unless you want to hasten the end of human civilization as we know it.

Here’s why. You let Skoda Man out and he’s all grateful, happy and generally overbrimming with the slightly curdled milk of contemporary human kindness. Next thing you know, he’ll be letting some other joker out 30 yards up the road.

Where does that leave you? Two car-lengths short of where you could have been if you hadn’t gone all Mother Theresa on their sorry arses. That’s where.

Then, of course, the chap Mr Octavia let out is yielding passage to some droopy-eyed bird in a Mini. Before you know it, the whole pathetic pay-it-forward routine has got completely out of hand and you’re basically NEVER going to arrive at your destination.

It’s like that Ancient Greek philosophy geezer Zeno who said that a tortoise or an arrow or something can never actually arrive anywhere because it first has to travel half the distance to its destination, then half of the half that remains, then half of half of that half, etc. etc.

Net result: your tortoise, arrow or whatever always has half of the remaining distance left to travel, and hence can never arrive.

Actually, it’s not exactly like that, because eventually all your fellow motorists will grow weary of giving way to one another and go home to bed, giving you a brief window of opportunity in which to get to where you’re going.

What’s more, Zeno’s Paradox notwithstanding, even arrows reach their targets in the end. The reason being that arrows, unlike philosophers, lack an infinite capacity for subdivision. Ditto tortoises, for what it’s worth.

So, yes, you will get there eventually. But next time please think twice before you unleash a plague of highway-clogging chivalrousness upon your fellow motor-citizens.

Nobody needs that.

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That’s the last time I listen to a philosopher.


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