I was in the Post Office the other day and I discovered, much to my dismay, that they had rearranged the whole place and introduced a new queuing system. The idea of queuing systems, in themselves, are a bit on an anathema but to be taken by surprise by one is that much worse.
So I walked through the maze and found myself immediately at the front and stood there waiting for a vacant counter. After a few seconds the nice man behind a counter to the side waved me over from where they sell all those peripheral things that aren’t stamps and parcel deliveries but the Post Office depends upon for its survival. As I approached he pointed up at the ceiling to a sign that explained that this counter could also be used to buy stamps and parcel deliveries as well as all those peripheral things, etc.
In response to the nice man gesturing at the sign that was by now directly over my head, and therefore completely out of view due to the fact that it was end-on (or rather bottom-on if you’ll excuse the inference) and thus unreadable, I suggested that the sign was not really very useful to people as people don’t look up. The nice man weighed my two promotional copies of The Hidden Masters and the Unspeakable Evil that I was sending out to reviewers and while he was doing so I explained that people looked at the floor because that’s where all the scorpions are. I think, at this point, the nice man decided to give the whole situation up as a bad job and refused to communicate any further and just pretended that he had missed the whole of the preceding conversation. I was equally happy with this result as by now my packages had been weighed in the balance and, having been found wanting for twice two Pounds and seventy Pence I completed the transaction, made my excuses and left. However, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to explain myself. So I’ll explain it to you.
You see I heard something on BBC Radio 4 recently (where one eventually hears everything of any interest if one waits long enough) that said that the human head naturally tilts forward such that the field of view is 15 degrees below the horizontal. I think they put it down to the weight of the brain or something but I put it down to scorpions.
You see if you are walking through the African savannah in bare feet, because you don’t have any shoes due to the fact that they aren’t due to be invented for another two million years, you need to be looking at the ground just so that you don’t tread on a scorpion. Of course you could tread on a snake or big spider or anything else and these things could also drop on you from trees so looking at the ground exclusively would be a bit of a problem (and that’s not counting the sabre tooth tigers) so field of view is a bit of a compromise as things far away might also be important, such as rapidly approaching sabre tooth tigers. But the point is we have perfectly good reasons for looking at the ground and it’s not just to spot dog shit, although that’s a very good reason especially if you grew up in the seventies.
So when they design signs for Post Offices or supermarkets or airports, perhaps they might like to consider what life was like on the African savannah two million years ago before the advent of cobblers, which might be what you’ve just been reading.