I spend somewhere between 95 and 98 percent of my life on autopilot. It is the main reason that I wear headphones. At least then if you call my name or honk your horn and I don’t look, you’ll assume that I didn’t hear you because I was blasting the Beegees too loud. In reality I heard you, but my brain disregarded it. I was probably too busy contemplating the idiosyncrasies of the urinal puck or trying to come up with lyrics to the rhythmic rattle of my laptop bag. As you might imagine, that sort of thing takes up most of my higher brain functions, so the rest of me is just working on getting from point A to point B without dying. Unfortunately, sometimes point A is the beginning of the day and point B is the end of it. Anything anyone tells me on days like that is likely to bounce off my noggin, and anything that is not directly threatening to interrupt body function is moved to the bottom of the priority queue. The side effects of this are many. I don’t remember birthdays. I don’t remember names. I forget to do favors. In short, it makes me thoughtless.
Thoughtlessness is considered a very bad thing. Frankly, it is synonymous with being a jerk. I don’t think that’s fair. It isn’t like I do this stuff on purpose. Honestly, how do you purposely not think about something? It is impossible! Want proof? Develop mind reading powers and ask someone to not think of elephants. You know what they’ll think of before anything else? Elephants! Really though, one need look no further than the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. He was born of Ray Stantz’s inability to not think of anything. It doesn’t make sense to call a thoughtless person a jerk. Being a jerk requires malice, and malice requires thought, which thoughtless people by definition don’t have! Jerks are pretty much the most thoughtful people around. Sure, they think things like, “Bill’s going to want a ride home. I’d better duck out of here before he asks,” but he still THINKS of Bill. All I did is not think! Is that really as bad?
Another reason it isn’t right to pick on thoughtless people is that there isn’t a thing we can do to stop being thoughtless. You wouldn’t resent a short guy for being short, so why the double standard? People don’t believe it, though. Everyone who is thoughtful thinks that if you made the effort, you could be thoughtful too. You know what the problem with that is? IT REQUIRES THOUGHT! Telling someone to think about being thoughtful is like telling a forgetful person to remember not to forget. It is a solution that will only work for someone who doesn’t have the problem.
I’m not saying it isn’t a bad thing. I’m saying it’s a handicap. Trust me, on behalf of all thoughtless people everywhere, being thoughtless screws us over way more often than it screws other people over. Not realizing an assignment is due, dropping a cup of coffee because you forgot you were holding it (it happens), and wandering into traffic are just a few of the problems we face. When was the last time you gave a blind person a hard time about not noticing your new haircut? And yet a thoughtless person gets crap for it all the time! Where is the justice?
In closing, let me ask you thoughtful people a favor. Next time you realize that something is on the way that will require the attention of someone like me, who you should know by now is completely oblivious, give us a heads up. Maybe, maybe, then we will remember. And if you fail to do so? Well, now who is being thoughtless, hmm?