Monday, July 2, 2012
An inch at a time
If something changes a tiny bit at a time people tend not to notice. One day they wake up and wonder how the heck did things get the way they are.
Many years ago a coworker and I played the occasional practical joke. Our victim: the boss. Every day that we worked, we’d move his desk and chair about an inch back. Eventually, his chair was so close to the wall that he had to squeeze to get between the chair and his desk. One day he got up quick from his desk, banged the chair against the wall and said, “How the f**k did my desk get here?”
Every day day now I see people banging their metaphorical chair against the wall and wondering how things got the way they are. It could be that final law that gets passed and you realize it’s not the government you thought it was. Perhaps is the steady climb in food prices until suddenly all the good stuff is too darn expensive. Maybe it’s the day a person realizes they no longer have anything in common with their spouse.
Slow changes tend to be invisible. Companies take advantage of that when a pound of coffee goes from 16 oz, to 15, to 12, then 11.5 and one day you find yourself buying 8 oz of coffee. Governments take advantage of that effect when power slowly shifts away from the people to the government.
Thing is, even the most preoccupied person can have the epiphany that their chair is hitting the f**king wall. That’s the tipping point when tiny change is no longer acceptable. That’s when people stop squeezing and start moving things out of the way.