Thursday, 26 April 2007

It just goes to show!

I was going to put this post on my other blog Inside Track - tales of commuter conversations which can be reached at when I realised that what happened to me on the train this morning was a mini-case study in Gullibility.

I was in the train carriage putting my bag on the luggage rack, and about to sit down when a female voice behind me said "Seat 46 C that's my reservation, that's MY reservation!"

The tone and assertiveness threw me to start with as there was no reservation ticket on the seat. "You can check my ticket if you want!" she followed on. By which time I had turned around to see a lady in her mid-late 50s (I'm 51 btw) well dressed and visually in no mood for a discussion.Well, my reaction surprised even me. I said " I am sorry, why are talking to me as if I have done something wrong?, there is no way that I could have known there was a reservation" To which the lady replied "Don't you believe me?" At this point I said that I was not disagreeing with her, I simply wanted to know a) how I could have known and b) why she was making feel like had done something bad?"Anyhow I moved seat, only for her to say "this must be yours" and handed me my wallet that I had left on the table. My retort to that was "..and, you will know, of course, THAT is the effect you have on people!"

Episode over.

Reflecting back on this I realised that the event contained many facets of the Gullibility phenomenon.

a) The lady was 'assertive, definite, and demonstrative'

b) The questioning was 'immediate and assumptive'

c) There was the pressure of other people backing up down the aisle waiting to be seated

d) There was the 'dress image' of the lady as 'well to do'

e) I was suprised and unable to 'rise above' or objectify myself and collect my thoughts

f) I felt strongly that although the 'offer' was made to check her ticket, I was somehow made to feel this would have been 'rude', untrusting, and awkward.

I have no idea that this lady was actually telling the truth! You could argue, why would she be so 'het' up about a seat for a short commuter train journey to the extent that she would want to 'gull' me? Nevertheless I DIDN'T ask her for evidence, I was embarassed by the potential social consequences and 'fuss' that might have been made, I felt that I was somehow in the wrong, AND it happened fairly early in the morning when I was a bit tired.

What do you make of this? What would you have done differently?

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