Know Nothing

commuting genius
commuting genius

During the initial meeting with an interviewee. I explain we are going to record a social archive which will include details of the influences of early life. We record great successes, horrible mistakes, first job, people liked, failed friendships. Most love the idea of reminiscing, a few resist the idea. ‘I rather not look back’ ‘I have nothing to say’ ‘I do not like the sound of my voice’ ‘I might say something which will offend’. These are the usual excuses, of course, there are much more. The funniest was the fellow who said ‘I’ve signed the Official Secrets Act’ draw your conclusions on that one. It’s interesting; people will talk all day about themselves. And when asked to record their memories or ideas they feel they have nothing to give. I write of this because it leads me to the next part of the interview process which is relevant to today’s essay.

Many think they know what to say in, or how to conduct the interview. ‘I do not wish to answer set questions’ ‘I would like you to ask this’ or ‘Do not enter into this area’ are boundaries which the interviewee enforces. It is my way or no way stance. Consider the three ideas as protection, domination or selfishness. The trait runs through the character of many people. I have interviewed over 600 individuals, and the ‘my way, not your way’ are always the most challenging and unproductive. There is no denying there is still plenty to be learned, but nothing unique. It is interesting to note the successful humans are the most open, transparent and have no problem with guidance.

All and I mean all excellent interviews are structured. A real journalist has already researched his interviewee and will know how to make a mutually beneficial recording. Mutually beneficial? Yes, the reporter archives his objective of making an item of magnetic media, and the subject gets his or her point or story into the public domain.

What can astute reader can learn from these opening paragraphs? Well, for example, people are afraid of their thoughts, many have a lack of imagination, self-image or causing offense. Other characters believe they know better, even though someone with experience can glean the very best from a situation. Pride does come before a fall and self-importance, arrogance; selfishness is a guide to weakness, not strength. I wonder how many realize why their ‘great’ idea did not achieve the success it may deserve? Believing we know everything about a subject, is often why the ‘great idea’ fails. None of us is an expert in each facet of success. Winners know this, losers do not.

During every daily commute into the city, I watch this single-minded, ‘my way’ attitude. Drivers have to be the car in front. ‘It’s my road you bastard, give way to my superiority.’ A determined and selfish driver will never relinquish their space. Distorted car bodies and high blood pressure arguments follow. When traveling by the scene I smile, they are not as sharp as they think they are.

I saw it today; new white Vauxhall with right side panels distorted into a modern art sculpture. Its driver would not yield to the Volvo. The problem for Vauxhall, Volvo was the tractor unit pulling a 40-foot trailer. As Lizzy drove by the scene, a lady is shouting at the truck driver. Her anger has turned to rage. It will make no difference; the big fella couldn’t give a fig. Personally, I had no sympathy for this child attempting to validify her useless driving. This selfish attitude can result in hospital holidays or worse.

The message is simple, if you have any sense, it is best to yield to large vehicles. The woman is like many commuters; she did not understand the psychology of the situation. Psychology in a driving incident? Yes, assuming the attitude of the man who has to drive up to 50 hours a week and cover 1500 miles or more, is important to the way he drives. His attitude is important. You may think you are the best driver in the world, forget it, there is a rule. The rule of the road is this ‘You are as good a driver as the worse driver on the road.’ When the Polish truck driver hit Sheila’s car head on, his driving outweighed my aunt’s. Did not matter how experienced she was, driving a vehicle on the wrong side of the road ruined four lives. She was as good as the driver who changed her life forever.

For some years I drove articulated trucks. During this time I watched the drivers and their attitudes. Most car drivers believe they are the best, its the same mindset as the ‘my way is the only way attitude’ of the interviewee. Unless you have driven a heavy vehicle, its impossible to understand the truck drivers needs and limitations. Here is a psychological consideration; he does not care for drivers mistakes, he has the advantage of size and in truth experience. In the build up to today’s incident, this trucker will have looked in his mirrors as he entered into his lane. He’ll have watched the woman trying to creep up the inside of the trailer to block him out. She does not know once the tractor unit is positioned the trailer will follow. The result is inevitable, pride and joy car is now distorted evidence of ‘the road is mine’ mentality.

Understanding why a professional driver will rarely yield to this type of driving is vital. If he gave way every time, he’d never make any progress. Of greater importance, the lorry is not his, and he has no sentiment for the machine he’s commanding. Consider this a significant disadvantage to anyone who wishes to own the road. He has no fear of retribution. The transport company manager takes accidents as part of the territory. No one in a truck company will lose any sleep over your ruined car; it is exchanged documents, fill in the accident report at the depot, tomorrow’s another day. The Vauxhall driver has no realization all of these factors were in force as the rear tyres reshaped the car.

At the Wells Road junction, we encounter a red lighter going through the intersection. Today Lizzy and I watch a woman cross the path of the car next to us. If the driver had not slowed, the cyclist would have sustained a broken left leg at best. Broken the hearts of her family at worst. After making statements to the police and the insurance company, the woman’s children would have hated us for saying to them, ‘She rode her bike through the red lights.’

I wonder how life becomes so urgent as to risk valuable property or the most valuable possession of all, the body? I do not need sophisticated genii answers. People take risks because they believe they gain an advantage. We cannot take the road, cannot keep the time saved. The interviewee wants the coverage, but does not trust the journalist to ask the right questions – he needs to be in control – The driver thinks he’s superior to the truck driver, so he will not give way. The cyclist crosses red lights because he thinks the rules do not apply, and he will pay a high price. Metal traveling at high-speed tears flesh and breaks bones.

Life is either realistic or illusion. Cutting corners and risks. Some know all; some know nothing. Selfness or selfish?


  1. An open mind and interest..the key to getting through life. I’m not sure everything is always as black and white as people say…one has to be willing to learn in order to move on…great post and very thought provoking as usual 🙂

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