Tuesday, August 02, 2016

The Mental Check-Out

When you go to an ATM to get money out, the process is straightforward: enter card, enter PIN, request money, take back card, take money. (Obviously, that's a simplification, but that's not important right now.)

What a lot of people don't realise, because they don't give it a moment's thought, is that the order of those last two steps is actually important: it's important that the ATM gives you your card back and requires you to take it before it gives you your money.

The reason for this is that when a person who goes to the ATM to get money, once they have that money, will mentally move on to the next thing on their list. And so, if the ATM gave the money and then the card, this would lead to people wandering off with their money, leaving their cards behind them.

And the reason for that is that people have a "mental check-out" - they recognise the end of what they were doing and so they immediately move on to the next thing. They're now thinking about going to the pub, or into Tesco, or whatever else. They're no longer thinking about the ATM. Heck, they may even forget they were ever there at all!

One of the things that constantly bemuses me about bands is that over the years I've seen basically every Pipe Major I've ever seen make the same critical mistake: We come to the end of the practice, we've played our last tune, but the PM has something to say to the band (an announcement of bus times, a discussion of uniform, whatever).

So the Pipe Major says, "right, that will do for tonight" and then tries to make his announcement. The problem being that by that stage everyone has mentally checked out - they're putting kit away, they're thinking about locking up the hall, they're rushing to the toilet, or they just want to have a natter with their friends. Basically, they're no longer a band; they're a crowd of people in a band hall.

And yet the solution is so obvious: make the announcements before dismissing the band. "Right, that will do for tonight" should be the last think the pipe major says to the band (as a whole) that night.

But maybe it's just me. After all, as Londo Mollari said, "the universe is already insane. Anything else would be redundant."

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