Ever been halfway through a shower when you suddenly realize that there’s either shampoo or conditioner in your hair, but you have absolutely no idea which one?
It’s the habitual actions that get you. You can make a pretty good guess of what you were last doing, since the only bottles you have in the shower with you are shampoo, conditioner and cucumber melon bubble bath, but you don’t know for sure.
Strangely, if you’d just carried on thinking of other things, you probably would have made it through the task just fine – part of you is paying attention to what you’re doing. This is fortunate, because the only other objects in my shower are soap and razors. (I have 3, because I keep buying disposables and forgetting to throw them out.)
Anyway, some useful part of my mind is preventing me from picking up the razors instead of the shampoo. So far.
This is also why I don’t like to drive. Do you remember SAT percentiles? When Jon and I are in a car and he is driving, we are in the 95th percentile, and are better drivers than 95% of the drivers on the road.
When I am driving, the number drops rather drastically, way down past the “unfortunate” level. When I’m in a car, I like to let my mind wander while I watch the other cars and belt out the lyrics to obscure show tunes.
If I drive the same route on a daily basis, I eventually stop noticing where I’m going until I’ve arrived. This is somewhat disturbing – how many other people on the road are not paying 100% attention?
Even more disturbing – why is autopilot called autopilot? Please tell me that the people flying my commercial flights are not so distracted that they had to name a state of mind after it. Or that the navigational device was created because we as a species lack the attention span to handle a two hour flight to Tampa.