14 January 2008

Human nature and the FREE RIDE...

He was driving a friend's car today, on one of those absolutely picturesque European roads, rural, between vines and farms, across the knoll which shows lac Léman on the north, with the Jura mountains looking similar to the Front Range of the Rockies in Colorado... and to the south Mont Blanc.

He was driving his friend's car home to her, after she graciously let him carry all his paraphernalia home, from a combined-effort dinner party (his cooking, her apartment, their appetizers, etc).

After a beautiful ski-day (his), in deep powder (nearly knee-ish) and deeper blue skies, he begged off returning the car that evening, thinking mutually that it would be much easier to find a parking in her densely-populated quartier of Genève, during the mid
-morning lull in traffic on any Monday.

At the holistic hour of 11 AM, he set forth on his quest, to safely return homeward her sexy little German auto.

The road home had one small village to go through.

At the end of that village, the more open rural part has some 'curbs' installed simply to force oncoming cars to slow and yield right-of-way to oncoming traffic, to save children, etc.

He presumed to have had the right of way, but he saw the small electrical service truck coming at him. He pulled as far to the right side as was safe, reduced his speed, and still she came at him...

She, obviously oblivious, was not reducing speed, nor was she moving away (at ZEN Central, we ponder the lack of 'WARNING' options similar to those used in the skies, to prevent mid-air collisions...)

So inevitably, her driver's side mirror hit the friend's driver's side mirror, and both actual mirrors shattered out to the pavement.

Having stopped, our Hero refrained from uncouth screaming, having noted her truck's similar damages, and having memories of those days when doing similar acts with 'the boss' car' were grounds for losing a job...

So our Hero admonished her severely, in French, for her lack of comprehension that she was obligated to have slowed down, obligated to have waited, obligated to have moved away...

And knowing that the car's insurance 'deductable' was probably not going to reimburse a penny, our Hero let the 'perp' walk (drive) away, without exchanging information...

So get this!

It must be interjected here, that 'OUR HERO' is a totally-ZEN-ish kind of Guy, VERY similar in outlook to venerable ZENmud himself... (smiles)

As he was continuing to her apartment, full of remorse for new expenses, grateful that damage was limited to less than 250 CHf (now roughly some $220), and being a realist, he patiently guided her lovely-but-sullied car towards finding a parking spot near her downtown apartment: unless the gods were good, this often equals a ten-minute to one hour exercise... and as a good ZENish person always will...

He was gliding up to the stoplight ahead, at which his lane was clear, and two cars blocked the route on the right hand of a four-lane road (two lanes into, two lanes departing from GVA).

Trying his best to retain ZENishness, thinking 'save vital petroleum' and 'maybe glide long enough for the green light to return'...

Can you see in your mind's eye, the next part?

A black Audi station wagon, driven by a blonde woman, screamed up the right lane like BODE MILLER on the Lauberhorn, and swerved in front, nearly hitting our friend's friend's car, as well as the other car at a stop.
(PHOTO credit Marco Trovati AP)

AND when our Hero returned to ZEN Central, and related this story, it made the following point about:

Human nature and the FREE RIDE...

The reader is kindly asked to refer back to the 'PARADOX of HUMANITY', posted at the eve of Christmas: December 2007.

What is it about individuals in our society, who silently demand or demonstrate their utter lack of motivation to cooperate with other people? What about trying to understand the motivations of society in a whole, and seeking to attain that 'rising tide' attitude that 'lifts all boats'?

Our Hero saw the accident about to happen, 'SHE', the perp, didn't.

Our Hero saw a means to glide efficiently towards a light about to change, the feminine wildebeast in the other Audi saw 'an opportunity from which to profit'.


Short term profits, be it seconds gained at someone's expense, or vital planetary resources that would benefit another ten or more generations before total exhaustion occurs or resource replacement is achieved.

This is the pure essence of the 'Free rider problem' in economics; in more advanced parlance this is sometimes referred to as the Pareto Efficiency.

Men or women who cannot learn to share the road (was our Hero guilty as well? We may not have access to his thought processes at those two moments, but we will take him at his word, for the salient points given)

... can be categorized as SELFISH, or IGNORANT, EGOTISTS or IDIOTS.

But change, in a system doomed to deeper annual dependence on oil, is a characteristic that opposes beliefs in short
-term gain, for long-term benefit to the greater or greatest number of people.

It seems unfathomable to some, that there are actually those of US who would sacrifice our slice of short
-term 'heaven' for long-term benefits we wouldn't possibly share... but!

If you believe we live on a planet we've borrowed from YOUR children, THEN you need to ask yourself how your going to face your grandkids, or great
-grandchildren, and tell them:

"I was a part of the GENERATION that failed you..."

While adamant ZENers will be asking forgiveness for the inability to persuade a planetful of people to act in rational rationality: by rationing the remaining reserves of 'free energy', which at $90/barrel, still remains a valid way to describe petroleum products.

Ask yourself: are you a free RIDER, or are you concerned about more than yourself?

___çç*******/ ZENmud \*******çç___
© 2008

PS: Bode Miller tied this weekend, the US record for Alpine Skiing World Cup victories, with his 27th victory coming at Wengen, Switzerland, on the famed and mythic Lauberhorn course.

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