No initiation, because we are…

Over the weekend I was traveling alone by train after almost four years. Generally when you travel with family or known people you do not get much time to observe people around you as you constantly have someone to engage in a conversation with.

Now having been outside the whole day the battery of my mobile had reached the critical level and I was running late and hence decided to charge my phone in the train. I boarded the train with fifteen minutes to spare and saw that an old uncle had already ‘hijacked’ the charging unit. Hence I requested the passenger who was traveling by the side lower berth in our coupe itself if I could leave my phone on charge at the plug point provided near his seat. He was kind enough to consent. All the eight passengers of our coupe slowly settled into the space available as the train chugged out of the station. As time inched away the passengers started having dinner in turns and now all eight passengers were waiting for either one to initiate the process of retiring to their respective berths.

I did not initiate the process because my phone was on charge and people traveling by the middle berth had kept some of their luggage on the upper berth which belonged to me. I wonder why the old uncle and aunty didn’t ask all others to retire to their respective berths because the lower berths had belonged to them. The other guy who was traveling by the upper berth also had the same problem that his berth had luggage of people traveling by the middle berths. People traveling by the side berths were also caught up. The guy traveling by the side upper berth couldn’t claim his berth as the bedding for the entire coupe was placed there. The kind stranger traveling by side lower berth couldn’t retire to bed as the person traveling by the side upper berth was sitting on his berth waiting for the beddings on his berth to disappear.

Just when I was thinking about the permutations and combinations in which things could be put in motion I suddenly saw that the old uncle had ‘finally’ removed his mobile from the charging unit!

Phew! I found the perfect release! I immediately got up and removed my mobile from the charging unit and changed it to where the old uncle was previously charging his mobile. This new location would enable me to access my mobile from the upper berth while it is on charge. Hence I reached for one set of bedding from the side upper berth and placed it on my berth. I then removed the luggage (belonging to middle berth travellers) from my berth and kept it on the lower berth where I was previously sitting. I finally moved to my berth and as I was undoing the bedding I found that I had put things in motion. The guy who also had the upper berth followed me making more space for people on the lower berth. Slowly beddings started to disappear from the side upper berth letting the rightful owner to retire. The chain reaction helped the side lower berth and middle berth holders to retire to bed and so did the old uncle and aunty of the lower berths too!

While studying Psychology, I often assumed that social loafing was restricted to workplace. Here I found myself amidst passengers in a train who were loafing even to sleep! Basically neither of the passengers wanted to initiate the process and be responsible for putting things in motion or for creating a chain reaction. Wonder why? Any thoughts?

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