July 5, 2002 Personalities: Please, Take One (The Nutshell)
Preface: Did you ever notice how “for one reason or another” is the most useless statement in the entire English language? Not only is the person using this phrase not sure what in particular that “one reason” behind his/her beliefs is, but we’re also informed that their opinion might not even be based on that one unspecified reason; rather based on a different rationale which remains equally mysterious. I have a feeling that the same guy who invented that gem also invented the concept of meteorologists.
For one reason or another, I have this theory. The theory is as follows: A person’s true personality, no matter how rarely it is shown, is revealed in its truest form when he/she is left anonymous. I’d like to tell you that I came up with this hypothesis after a long struggle with my dissertation regarding the effects of social anxiety on the human condition, but sadly, that is not the case. I was Trick-Or-Treating.
The night had gone as one might expect a Rochester-hosted Halloween night to go. My buddies and I (two baseball players, a doctor, and a Ross Perot) were trudging through snow (yes, snow) house by house, slowly filling our pillow cases with candy, peanuts, pennies, and caramel-coated, chocolate-covered razor blades. Finally, we came to “the house”. Here, we found an unguarded tub-like…well…tub, filled with candy. I’m talking filled. The only thing separating us from six pounds of pre-pubescent gold was a sign that read: “Please, Take One”. Right. This situation, ladies and gentlemen, defined a person.
As far as I could tell, these are the true personalities that could be extracted from this situation:
1) The Free-For-All Criminal – This character, when he lays eyes on the potential riches, disbands from the group. He is interested only in his well-being (where well-being is exactly equal to the number of candy pieces at the end of the night) and will act as such. He’ll take all of the candy for himself, bin and all.
2) The Social-Minded Criminal – This character, when he lays eyes on the potential riches, thinks socially. His main goal is to get the greatest amount of wealth while simultaneously not crossing any thick social barriers. This person would take, in good conscience, about half of the available candy and then go on to justify his decision to himself and those around him until the end of the night and for the next two weeks.
3) The Mastermind Criminal – This character, when he lays eyes on the potential riches, thinks politically. He is also concerned about filling his pillowcase with riches, but also knows that his livelihood might depend on his group, or, as he sees them now, his witnesses. This person would take charge of the situation at hand. He would first make sure that the proverbial coast is clear and then divide the candy up into several subsets (a large pile for him and equal smaller piles for each member of the group).
4) The No-Harm-Done Petty Criminal – This character, when he lays eyes on the potential riches, thinks realistically. He won’t be able to sleep if he takes a good portion of the candy, but he also knows that he won’t be able to sleep if he passes up a “good” situation like this. This person will carefully select a handful of candy to bring home. He won’t make a huge dent in the available goods, but the riches he does take are quality riches. Afterward, he’d claim that the people who set up the “Please Take One” bin did so knowing full well that trick-or-treaters would take more than one piece, so what he did was perfectly allowable and perfectly normal. No harm done.
5) The Unaffected – This character, when he lays eyes on the potential riches, thinks about which candy he is going to select. He does not see the big tub of candy as a “situation”, only a quick stop on the journey to fill up the pillowcase. The sign says “Take One”, and one he will take, no second thoughts.
6) The Follower – This character, when he lays eyes on the potential riches, does not think. He stands there, grinning, waiting for someone else to say something. No matter what it is his friend blurts out, he remarks, “Yeah, good idea!” This person has no true personality; rather, he is made up of situations where he is agreeing with one type of personality and situations where he is agreeing with another type.
7) The Son of a Preacher-Man Man – This character, when he lays eyes on the potential riches, thinks morally. His eyes may glisten in moonlight when he sees the mounds of Mounds and Pieces of Reeses, but he knows what he has to do. This character will take only one piece of candy, just as the sign says, and will explain to all of his group-members why he only took one piece and why they should also take only one piece. After his speech is over, this person is beaten up by the Free-For-All-Criminal
What we did that night isn’t really important (or legal for that matter), but the question remains, as Marc Summers always said, What Would You Do?