Nick Roach facing the camera with a lake behind
Nick Roach facing the camera with a lake behind
Nick Roach - Living Without Problems
Nick Roach - Living Without Problems

Pet Hates - Autopilot

This is not a term I hear a lot these days (I think I used to, when I was younger), and I think that is because there is an element of honesty implied and this is not always comfortable; people often do not like looking at, nor admitting to, emotional disturbances within them, especially when they are self inflicted.


And why do I say self-inflicted? Well, the term ‘pet hate’ implies a certain enjoyment, and indeed a conscious nurturing of the attitude as well as of the subsequent negativity that arises from it. (In that way it is more honest to use this term than simply to say ‘I hate that’, because at least it recognises and acknowledges the choice involved, rather than blaming the person or issue that is being hated.)


Having said the above, given what I teach, one may assume that I do not have any hates, much less pet hates, but I write here that this may be incorrect. There are a few situations that arise quite frequently that do bring about a slight reaction in me – though I would not necessarily call them ‘hates’.  More a sense of intrigue and fascination at what I am witnessing, and as I describe them (below) you may notice a common element.


Double Doors

This situation occurs frequently when one visits a cinema or theatre (for example), but we experience it every day as there are double doors to enter and leave the coffee shop where Sally and I currently have lunch most days.   

So what’s the problem?


There are two doors, very clearly. When one side is open and a person is passing through it, people will begin to queue on both sides, both behind and in front of the person passing through the door, waiting to use the open doorway, when there is quite clearly another door right next to this one, and no one thinks to push it...


If asked why, they may say it was because they thought it was locked, but this is not true. They didn’t think at all. If they had thought about it, they would have remembered that they had gone through that very door many times over the previous days, weeks, and often months while they had been visiting this shop. (Most of the visitors are regular customers).


Swing Doors

Similar to the above scenario, and one we experience every single day at the same coffee shop: We watch as someone leaves the counter, with their hands full with a cup of coffee or two and a bag of sandwiches; they walk up to the double swing doors, see they are both closed, and then struggle to grab a hold of the door handle/bar and pull the heavy door towards them...


Not all of them have their hands full (but it is very common); but what is not common is to see anyone push the door away from them when they are leaving. In fact it is very rare to see someone push the door (either door) as they leave, despite the door very clearly swinging in both directions.


Pedestrian Crossing

Another issue I often see: I will walk up to a set of pedestrian lights and join the people waiting to cross the road (on both sides), to find not one of them has pushed the button...


Everyone that arrived after the first person may say they assumed the first person had pushed it, but a look on the panel would have shown them that the light display that says ‘wait’ was not lit. The fact is, again, they did not ‘assume’ anything; at least not consciously. They saw a queue and joined it.


Walk around an obstruction

Again, one from coffee shops etc.: the previous customers may have left their table in a bit of a mess, and specifically the chairs pulled out. (Ignoring the factors involved in why the previous people left the table and chairs this way) Others then try to get passed and find it difficult to do so, especially with pushchairs and/or wheelchairs, or bags of shopping etc. But it is rare again that any of them will actually push the offending chairs in. They will just continue to struggle around them, leaving others to do the same.   


Driving - Vehicles

A slight change now: driving habits:


Some of these may have become more prominent since passing my IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorcycling), but are still along similar lines to the above examples...


On a motorway, or dual carriageway, or indeed any road really, people tend to drive very close. I have no objection to driving quickly, but not only does following so closely to the car in front reduce their reaction time (should anything happen in front), but it reduces their view as well. This alone is pretty silly to me. As I watch the train of cars ahead, regularly their brake lights are flashing on and off all the time as each car accelerates up to the back of the car in front and then jams on their brakes. This makes the whole driving experience far more stressful and challenging for everyone, not to mention dangerous. But what I really find strange is how close people get when in traffic jams...


I can’t imagine there are many people who enjoy traffic jams. So as to limit the psychological impact on me when in one (or in any queue, come to that), I make sure I leave quite a nice space between myself and the car in front; mostly so that I don’t feel so trapped. But then I look around and see everyone nose-to-tail, with possibly only between 1-3 feet or so between them and the car in front, and I wonder why anyone would intentionally give themselves so little space. And this is made all the worse when the vehicle in front is large. It’s like driving into a box...


But again, this is not really intentional, on their part. To me, this is unconscious; not thought through.     


Merge in turn

Another: when there is a lane closed, as soon as the warning signs show that the outside lane is closed in so many hundred yards, or kilometres, people tend to join the queue in the other lane and then get annoyed when every so often a person does not...


And when one gets to the front, there are usually signs saying ‘Merge in Turn’. And this is to tell all people in both lanes to take turns. If everyone had used both lanes, all the way to the front, and then everyone merged in turn, there would be a lot less stress.


Barrier - queue

In our work car park there is a set of double barriers. There is a single arrow painted on the ground to show drivers the way out. When it gets near to the barriers it splits, indicating to drivers they can use either side. The sensible thing to do is wait until a barrier is free and use that one.  


Despite this, invariably we will be actually at the barrier and often struggling to get through (as the numberplate recognition software which is supposed to let us in and out automatically is playing up again) but the other barrier will still free, and yet another car will drive right up behind us, often containing a now frustrated driver who has to wait. Again, it apparently did not occur to them to use the other barrier, despite the large arrow telling them to do so.



Back to ‘Pet Hates’

You will no doubt have noticed the common thread in all the above: people on autopilot.


I am unsure how much of my being observant of such behaviours is due to my dyslexia or just my level of self-awareness / self observation. It could be that they are inseparable: I cannot know how much of my very makeup is due to dyslexia, as the condition affects how the brain sends and stores information.


But as a youngster I did not accept things as they were. Just because things have always been a certain way, to me, was not reason enough that they should continue that way. And saying ‘Because I said so’ didn’t do it for me either (another phrase used by my parents and other adults). This attitude eventually led me to challenge life itself, and question why everyone accepts life as being painful; and I demanded to know why as well as how to escape the cycle.


Either way (whatever the cause of my noticing such actions, or the apparent lack of awareness in others), I cannot say I ‘hate’ any of the above. How can I? People are just doing what they do (and from the wider perspective, they are all aspects of one’s self anyway). But I do enjoy noticing these, and wondering, if only for a moment, what it would take for one of these people to wake up, for a moment, and look at what they are doing...


Then, suddenly, a person with an armful of food and drinks will walk from the counter up to the swing doors, turn around and back into them, pushing the door open with their backside. And balance is restored.


"The end of all experiences is simply to be"

Nick Roach

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