Thoughtful vs. Thoughtless

Thoughtful vs Thoughtless                                                   By Matt S August 3rd 2016

This morning as usual I was catching the train to work and noted that I have been irritated of late at how people behave when entering the train. More specifically it is winter in my part of the world and the doors on the train can be opened and closed with the push of a button, they do “self close” after a few minutes but this is long enough to let all the accumulated warm air out of the vast majority of the carriage. It is currently cold, wet and windy most days at the moment, and the trains are warm as long as the doors are closed. I also need to explain that my train waits at the station for 10 minutes prior to departure, and that I sit near the door of the train as I get off earlier than the majority of commuters so need to be close to the door in order to make my escape. This means that I am also much closer to the weather. So what is so irritating about people’s behaviour when they enter the train? Some people just don’t know how to close a door. Have you ever heard the expression “were you born in a tent” thrust in your direction when you failed to close a door?

I have been doing a little mental and practical experiment and watching those who push the “close” button after they enter the train, and those who leave the door open after they enter the train. I have also done a little behaviour modification to see if people will change their behaviour. I note that more than half the people who enter the train will close the door after they enter, even if the door was open when they entered the train. There are some who are habitual “leave the door open” people. Encouragingly for me they have managed to modify their behaviour after I go and fairly “obviously” close the door after their entry, and they now often close the door on entering the train.

Then there are those that just refuse to close the door despite the ghastly weather howling in, and the social prompts from both myself and the greater percentage of fellow commuters. Short of bellowing at them to close the door when they enter the train, (which would be seen as most impolite and rocking the boat in New Zealand) even though we grumble about their thoughtless behaviour in silence or behind their backs………………….

So what point am I making here?

From a positive perspective the majority of my fellow commuters are concerned for the wellbeing and comfort not only for themselves but for the rest of their fellow commuters. Other fellow commuters are able to take a prompt to think about the wellbeing of others and respond with a positive change in behaviour. There are just some folk that don’t get that closing the door on a train waiting at the station will keep the warmth in, and the wet, windy and cold weather out. In winter it is important to stay warm in order to avoid making yourself more vulnerable to colds and flu’s. It is also much more pleasant being in a warm, dry and windless train.

So why do these “habitual offenders” always leave the door open despite weather conditions and social prompts to do otherwise? I have no idea!! Short of asking them why they do it, (and it is likely that you will get a terse untruthful response if you do), is it really that important? Probably not. It would be nice if all folk were thoughtful and considerate of others needs or at least be willing to change their behaviour in this regard, and thankfully most people are thoughtful and considerate (even if they may need an occasional prompt)

So what might be the reason that people just leave the door open and seem not to care about how others might be affected by their action. They may just be totally selfish people who could not care less about others as long as they are okay. They may be preoccupied with their thoughts and too self absorbed to consider that their actions affect others. They may be mentally disordered or autistic and it will just not register with them that they should close the door, and I’m sure there will be other reasons also.

So what does this all mean anyway Matt? (I hear you say)

Well I got to wondering if I leave doors open (as do “habitual train offenders”) in other ways in my own life. Doors that I leave open and that affect others and demonstrate my own thoughtless behaviour. This is certainly food for thought, (I am thinking), as I wander through the day. My prayer would be that God shows us those times where we leave the door open thoughtlessly, and that we can be like the train commuters who are prepared to change with a little prompting.

I also I wonder about the people in our lives that leave doors open for us, is it deliberate or is it just thoughtless. Probably like the vast majority of people on the train they will respond to a prompt or two and this would tell you that their behaviour was unintentional. But for some their behaviour will be selfish and even intentional at times. I will leave you to think about what you might do in this latter situation and will be writing more on this subject in another article.

Meanwhile, below are two train commuting stories that I found on the internet, both very different stories (both are short). I will leave you to read these and ponder the differences.