So... for whippersnappers and idiots, here's an example of the self-defeating behavior that I'm talking about -- the Airport Baggage Claim.
What everyone wants is to get his or her bag quickly and easily off the carousel... it should be so easy. Passengers surround the carousel, grab their bags as they pass, and place each safely behind them, where, when all bags have been collected, they can then easily cart to the airport exit.
What happens is this -- everyone crams in as close to the carousel as possible, often leaning forward to view the oncoming baggage. Because there is limited space close to the carousel, this results in multi-layer humanity. The back layers can neither see their bags, nor get to them when the do, by chance, espy said bags. At this point, the back layer passengers must elbow their way though the front layer. And, of course, once they have a bag in hand, there's no place to move the bag because other back layer passengers have now filled in the void left by their movement into the front line.
What would make it easier is this -- don't cram close to the carousel. Stay a few paces back. This enlarges the circumference of the circle (oval?) of passengers. For example, our hypothetical carousel is oval -- two 10' diameter curved ends with a 10' "straight-away" on each side... total exposed curbage is about 51', or enough for only 34 average sized people to stand shoulder to shoulder. For a flight with 100 people, this is three layers of passengers engaged in hand-to-hand combat, groping blindly for bags which have, in all likelihood, gone to some far distant city, anyway.
Simply moving back 6 feet from the carousel increases the available front line footage to accommodate 60 passengers, probably enough for each passenger to see their bags, grab them as they come by and move them easily through the space left by their temporary absence -- which is thoughtfully left open by the other enlightened passengers -- and then to happily scamper though the airport exit to stand behind 300 other passengers in the taxi line.
Do I really think this ever would ever happen? Hell, no... by dint of my approaching curmudgeon-hood, like a good pair of Levis, I've also spun around the dryer enough times to be faded and jaded.
Wouldn't it be interesting, though, if as a society, we could make spontaneous decisions that favor our own enlightened self interest. Wouldn't that be something? Don't hold your breath or you won't live long enough to become a curmudgeon.
Next time, I'll talk about how to increase efficiency of freeways and get where we want to go more quickly! Can't wait, can you...