The Electric Lazy Boy

People and electricity have one very common attribute: both will always travel the path of least resistance. Sometimes this path of least resistance may not mean taking the shortest route. In some cases, this behaviour takes on the most illogical behaviour that baffle even the most brilliant minds who study human behaviour; but once the data are added up, then this behaviour makes sense, or takes on a pattern that can be replicated, then we can learn from it. An example that I am looking at are people who work, and are performing a tasked that they simply do not wish to undertake. I use the task of taking out the garbage as my case example.

Now, the dumping of garbage, or waste, has some rules, or parameters that must be kept. Imagine if in your neighbourhood someone just dumped a bag of trash in the middle of your street – you would be upset. There are rules, like using a bag, and putting that bag into a sturdy container. Once the container is ready for dumping, it is then taken to the dumpster (if your neighbourhood has one). You would never dream of just letting the bag of trash sit in the middle of your driveway, or be placed along the farthest edge of your property line hoping that some small rodent will carry it the rest of the way for you to the dumpster.

We live in a time when you just cannot throw everything into the dumpster. We now have rules, or by-laws, that prohibit some materials from going into the mean-stream landfill. One such item is the material known as cardboard. Cardboard is the material that makes cardboard boxes. Cardboard can be recycled, and is therefore kept separate from the rest of the garbage that we throw out. Cardboard boxes generally come in the form of a cube shape, when consumers purchases their goods that are packaged by these cube like structures. The endgame with cardboard boxes that are going to be disposed of, is to change them from a cube, into a shape that will take up the least amount of physical space possible – usually we call this process, flattening. Flattening does require some labour, depending on the size and strength of the cardboard.

So, as per garbage etiquette, we separate different materials that go into the waste collection bins, and also, we need to do some processing to help facilitate our obligations to this waste separation process, such as flattening of cardboard. Failure to this leads to inefficiencies in the system as a whole, and adds more costs to the program which is felt by all who are in directly responsible for it. As for the human who acts like electricity, and is caught up in the whole physics of taking the path of least resistance, his laziness now burdens the added costs onto to the rest of the community. By not flattening his cardboard boxes, he has now taken up space inside the bin that could normally hold three times that amount, and now has added a cost to the rest of the community who wish to add  their cardboard to the bin.

Sadly in our punitive style system of public works, we all have to pay for this one individual. Added to this sadness, there is no way of enforcing the waste separation rule. We cannot “arrest” him, or prohibit him from using the waste bins. All we can do is watch this electrical thinking individual continue to travel the path of least resistance. Perhaps shamming is the only tool we have left of helping our community without violating our higher laws that govern our society?

Just throwing this out there.

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