I often traverse Queen St (which, for the benefit of my vast international audience, is the main street of Auckland’s CBD). This traversal is made easier, and surprisingly more entertaining, by the fact that as a very busy street, traffic in all directions at major intersections is stopped roughly every 90 seconds to let pedestrians cross.
There are two things I find entertaining in this.
The first is that it gives me the opportunity to mention that this kind of crossing is known as a ‘pedestrian scramble’ or, more lyrically, as a ‘Barnes Dance’. When history judges this blog, never let it be said that it did not expand minds.
The second is that these intersections are where you find the ‘confident walker’. This is the person who strides out boldly before the ‘walk now’ signal goes green. This individual is keen for all to understand that he (and he is always a he) is an unnaturally capable pedestrian. He has memorised the phasing of the lights, so committed is he to his pedestrian craft. Or, as I prefer to imagine it, rather than memorising the phasing he simply possesses some preternatural affinity for traffic lights, an affinity so advanced and inexplicable that in certain town planning circles he’s referred to, in appropriately reverential tones, as ‘the crossing whisperer’.
This ‘confident walker’ believes he is sending a message that says ‘I am a very busy person with places I need to be. In the course of being busy I cross roads regularly, this road in particular. So much so that this road is my domain, and as you can see, I am its master. I am a leader and I wait for no (green) man. You may follow me with confidence for I am the Lord of the Barnes Dance’.
The message he’s actually sending is that ‘I am a loser of quite desperate sadness. My life is so bereft of genuine meaning that I derive my greatest sense of personal accomplishment from believing I am a member of an elite class of pedestrian’.
I’m genuinely amazed I’ve never seen a ‘confident walker’ get hit by a car.
It also occurs to me that there is an obvious advertising agency equivalent – the ‘preemptive solver’.
They’re the people who insist on answering every question before it’s been asked. Before a need’s been identified, they’re in opportunity mode. Before a problem’s been defined, they have a solution proposed. They’re never happier than when finishing a sentence on your behalf.
They are keen for everyone in the room to appreciate that they possess both uncommon sagacity and extensive experience. They wish the meeting to understand that no one is closer to the client’s business than they are. They would also like the meeting to know that it can relax, secure in the knowledge that they have clearly spent a great deal of time in the agency environment, and no matter the eventuality, they have it seen it, done it, and contact reported it.
They believe they’re sending a message that says ‘I think of nothing other than your business. As will be obvious from the promptness of my answer I am a step ahead of you. This is because your needs occupy my every thought. Your wish, before you’ve even wished it, is my command. It should therefore be clear to everyone in this meeting that I am indispensable.’
The message they’re actually sending is ‘I’m not actually listening to what you’re saying. It’s therefore very likely that what I deliver you will be wrong. This is because I am significantly more interested in demonstrating what I know than I am in understanding what you need.’.
I’m genuinely amazed I’ve never seen a ‘preemptive solver’ get hit by a client.