October 15: negotiations

When I am walking down Kennington Lane I have a choice of pavements: either I cross backwards and forwards at two sets of lights to avoid a wiggle in the road where I would have to cross to a traffic island and and then nip past unstopping traffic, or use my wits and do the wiggle over the traffic island. The first is a pre-structured itinerary; the second a negotiation. Depending on my mood and my energy, I might choose either option.
I have an on-going disagreement with a friend about walking through the passageways of busy tube stations. She maintains that you should stick to the right (or is it the left?) and follow the recommended track. Actually, she even thinks there is a correct line on a public pavement. For me, not just the pavement but also the tube passageways, are a spontaneous negotiation, and the spontaneous negotiation saves time for the collectivity.
Many of you will be familiar with the staple or paper-clip debate that has riven society in reecent weeks, setting friend against friend, son against father, a debate for which (although I say so myself) I take some credit (see March 8 2015 Stapels or Paper-clips) The staple is the pre-structured option, the paper-clip the negotiation. We believe that some societies prefer the pre-structured option (Germanics); others the negotiation (Latins). Negotiation may, of course, be just another word for a terrible row which might be pre-empted by the non-dialogue of the pre-structured option, and negotiation is often only useful when you have time to consider what you are negotiating about, which is not the case in a busy tube station and impossible with a ten tonne truck. It might be more relaxing to side-step tiring negotiation sometimes, though perhaps it is healthier for ourselves and society to engage in it.


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