Free Fiver

These two words mean two different things to me. Both meanings originate in Britain. One involves walking away from money. The other reminds me of Fiver, the weakling shaman of Watership Down.

When the researchers were surprised that the overwhelming majority of passersby didn’t bother to stop and collect 5 quid, I frankly was surprised. I think that if they examined the motives of the people passing up the money they’d be taking research into useful places. I myself would predict any number of reasons why someone might not stop.

1. They aren’t literate in English or any language at all, or are alexic, or dyslexic. For all we know they read “Reefs” and aren’t going to stop for that.

2. They think 5 quid isn’t enough money for the time they’d have to take to pick it up; in other words, moving towards a different destination will, in their estimation, pay better than stopping to get the money. If you knew that being more than 20 minutes late meant you didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting laid that evening, a matter of some concern to you, would you stop for anything short of a hail of gunfire?

3. They have visual impairments which prevent them from seeing the sign.

4. They think it’s an advertising con, and they are paying themselves $5 to avoid looking stupid.

5. They are fiercely independent, and the notion of taking money from any sentient creature without the express purpose of a value for value exchange is anathema to them. Not a common reason, I’ll grant you, but one not outside my own experiential milieu.

6. They think it’s a religious come-on, or that they will be subject to intrusive questioning during the handover of the money.

7. They shudder at the notion that stopping would automatically make them look poor, no matter what their exterior appearance. Or, being well off and richly tidy, hesitate to look miserly or grasping.

My cherce readers will no doubt come up with a reason or two of their own.

See the thing is, I’d stop, just to get a feel for the person wearing the sign. I wouldn’t even worry about whether I looked stupid or wouldn’t get the money or would be asked to provide oral relief thereafter. I’d want to know what could possess anyone to volunteer – or take money for – wearing that sign. I’m not unique in that view.

Keith said I had neglected one important research question.  He said, “They think the guy is crazy, and they don’t wanna get any on ‘ em.”

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Born when atmospheric carbon was 316 PPM. Settled on MST country since 1997. Parent, grandparent.

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