Musings: The List

You’ll remember a couple of days ago I posted about a training exercise that I was sent on at The Work: You were to decide on twelve people, from a list of twenty, to send to a newly discovered island where they would be isolated from the rest of the world for fifty years. The descriptions given were short and vague, and you were to rely on your own personal reasoning, stereotypes and prejudices to decide who to leave, and who to take.

I said I would post my choices, and a brief summary of the reaoning behind each decision. So, without further ado, here it is:

  1. Trade Union Representative In A Factory – Left Behind
    Stereotypical Presumption – Short, overweight, balding man wearing short sleeved blue shirts
    In my experience most trade union reps are quite combative, political and quite often militant in their beliefs. They’re also used to committee decision making and resisting authority figures. In a survival situation leadership by committee and dissent are luxuries that simply cannot be afforded. The last thing you need is the people you send to get firewood organising a strike for better working conditions.  image conjured
  2. Nineteen Year Old Shop Assistant – Taken
    Stereotypical Presumption – A young woman working in a shoe or clothes shop.
    They have youth on their side, and as no specific physical or mental disabilities are mentioned it’s fair to assume that they’re in good health. Their youth and presumed health is a big boon if they’re to contribute to the new society. They’ve also got time to learn skills needed to keep society alive.
  3. Nigerian Doctor – Taken
    Stereotypical presumption – Doctor who is a black man with a Nigerian accent.
    Little to be said about this one. It would be beyond foolish not to take a doctor regardless of his nationality, skin colour or anything else.
  4. Grandmother With Arthritis – Left Behind
    Stereotypical Presumption – A pensioner crippled with arthritis
    A purely practical choice based upon presumption. If the primary characteristics mentioned about the her is that she is a grandmother and has arthritis then it’s fair to say she will more than likely be elderly, and that the arthritis is bad enough that it drowns out any other mentionable characteristics. Arthritis tends to be a progressive and debilitating condition if not managed with modern medicine and techniques. We may well have the Nigerian Doctor on the island, but we don’t have access to a pharmacy. I assumed her probable lack of mobility and ability to assist with manual labour, of which there will be a lot, would far outweigh any other potential benefit that she might bring.
  5. Ex-Cabinet Minister – Left Behind
    Stereotypical Presumption – Lembit Opik because he was in the paper recently.
    I suppose that every comment I made about the Trade Union Rep could be applied to the politician. They’re used to being charge, used to being lsitened to and more than likely will be entirely convinced that they should be in charge, and that they’re right no matter what the topic may be. They’ve made a career out of playing up to the populace, prevaricating and. Maybe I would take them if it was a member of Stalin’s cabinet, but a middle aged professional argument merchant is of little use in a survival situation. No free buffets, expenses or junkets either so they would spend most of their time in a sulk.
  6. Afghan Refugee – Taken
    Stereotypical Presumption – An average Afghan farmer or even a Mujahideen.
    Afghanistan is a hard country. It’s people are survivors, fighters and used to life on the edge of the world. The vast majority of htem manage somehow to survive in a country that is more rock than fertile earth. They’ve managed to drive off every superpower in the last five centures, and all that while being dirt poor. All of that goes double for an Afghani that’s had the balls, intelligence and drive to make it out of Afghanistan and as far as the UK. With someone like that on the team I think I would be onto a winner.
  7. Black Professional Footballer – Taken
    Stereotypical Presumption – Young black professional footballer of course, somebody like Ashley Cole
    OK, so maybe many young footballers get a bad press for being overpaid boaby merchants, but they’re garunteed to be young and in good condition. THeir race is irrelevant. their youth and physical condition make them prime recruits. They’ll just need to make do with being paid in papaya.
  8. Sixty year old Army Sergeant – Taken
    Stereotypical Presumption – For some bizarre reason Windsor Davies
    Although age is a prominent consideration I believe his knowledge and skills would be far more important during the initial stages. I presume a sergeant would have good survival skills, personal discipline and the skills required to motivate the others. They should also be able to teach these skills to the younger members of the group with relative ease ensuring that
  9. Peace Campaigner – Left Behind
    Stereotypical Presumption –  Faslane Peace Camp and, bizarrely because he’s not a peace campainger, Swampy
    Again this is about harmony and group dynamics. My stereotypical image of a peace campaigner is that of a militant hippy vegan. In a survival situation you need to be ready to eat anything and take decisive, often violent, action to ensure success. I didn’t think a peace campaigner would be able to contribute much to such an environment.
  10. Barman – Taken
    Stereotypical presumption – Middle aged barman
    In general barmen, as a professional requirement, are usually physically fit and socially adept. They would fit in well to most groups without causing any disruption. I’ll admit that in this case the barman is making up the numbers a bit so this choice isn’t as well reasoned as the others.
  11. School Cook – Taken
    Stereotypical Presumption – School Dinner Lady
    Yes they could be male, and yes they could be a rotten cook, but the main concern is that they have some experience with the preparation of food. It would be foolish to assume that they’re equipped with the survival skills of Ray Mears, but they would know presumably how to cook fish or prepare salads etc. In this regard they’re marginally more useful than some of the others that have been left behind. Also presuming that they’re female they would be useful to help with the continuation of society.
  12. Pregnant Teenager – Taken
    Stereotypical Presumption – A pregnant teenager of the kind that outrages Daily Mail readers
    First of all there’s age of course: a teenager. Second of all this is one of the few people on the list that can be more or less guaranteed to be female. I’m not sure what kind of society is being created on the island, but I assume that it would need both men and women to succeed and grow. The fac tthat she’s pregnant also likely means a free extra person after a few years. Given that we’re also taking the doctor it’s far more likely that the child and mother will make it through childbirth unscathed.
  13. Unemployed Black Teenager – Taken
    Stereotypical Presumption – Half the cast of Kidulthood
    Race and employment is irrelevant. They’re young and likely capable of being taught new skills to assist the community.
  14. School Crossing Patrol Officer – Left Behind
    Stereotypical Presumption – Semi Retired Person
    Age. Most crossing guards are semi-retired older people that get on OK with kids. They’ve no outstanding qualities that I’m aware of, and their age would factor against them in a survival situation. They may well ahve plenty of life experience and possibly a useful career or knowledge, but there’s no way to tell. In my opinion it’s better to leave them and take someone else.
  15. Retired Joiner – Taken
    Stereotypical Presumption – My Grandpa, cause he was a retired joiner
    Again age is a factor, but their skills would be entirely indispensable. It’s likely that the vast majority of tools, shelters and other equipment would all need to be made out of wood to begin with. Therefore an expert in woodworking would be required. They could apprentice one or more of the younger expedition members to allow their knowledge to be passed on.
  16. Gay Nurse – Taken
    Stereotypical Assumption – A flamboyant homosexual in a nurse’s uniform of course.
    Their sexuality is irrelevant.  A qualified nurse is as useful as a qualified doctor. An essential choice.
  17. Physics Professor – Left Behind
    Stereotypical Presumption – Albert Einstein
    A hard decision. On the one hand a being a professor garuntees a certain level of inteligence, education and teaching ability, but on the other hand physics is too specific a disciple to be of use to a rudementary society. A chemist, botanist or even biologist woudl be far more useful. Any of the other adults should be more than capable of teaching basic arithmetic, reading and writing which would be sufficient while kick starting society. What’s the use in knowing how to detect quarks if you can’t build a plough?
  18. Bank Clerk Who Is In A Wheelchair – Left Behind
    Stereotypical Presumption – Man in a wheelchair
    First thoughts are that the island will not have any infrastructure. There’s no easy way to move a wheelchair across sand, or rough terrain. Add to that the fact that we’re not going to have any use for a bank clerk’s skills and that it would likely need two able bodied people to help them get about it the wheelchair was useless I think it’s fair to say that a person in a wheelchair would be an unacceptable burden in the scenario presented.
  19. Farm Labourer – Taken
    Stereotypical Presumption – Just an average farmer
    Used to hard labour, and with some knowledge of animal husbandry and agriculture. They would be indespensible for both. Would likely do well teamed with the afghan refugee.
  20. Jazz Musician – Left Behind
    Stereotypical Presumption – An older black man in a tuxedo with a saxophone
    A strange stereotype I must admit, but I presumed that again their age and specialisation would count against them. Sure they could provide entertainment on the island, but an entire society founded upon the back of Jazz music would be in trouble fairly quickly. There’s also no guarantee that he’s any good at playing, or that his age won’t be a factor. Yes I am aware there are young jazz musicians, and ones of other races.

In conclusion I suppose I learned a lot about my own ingrained stereotypes, and surprised myself with how harsh and pragmatic I could be if the situation warranted it. I found myself in a group with an HR Administrator and a Management PA discussing my choices, and was surprised that they their choices were the polar opposite of mine. I tended to take the young, the strong and the useful, but they tended to take anyone and were outright shocked that I refused to even consider the Bank Clerk in the the Wheelchair. There was a tiny, minuscule moment when I thought they might make me feel guilty about it, but I stand by my choices regardless.

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