Excuse me sir. You have a banana on your head. I took this picture one recent Friday morning at a Starbucks in Kansas City. The gentleman in the image had just picked up a banana out of the serving basket, considered it for a moment, and then carefully positioned it on his head. It remained there through his ordering, checkout, and ultimate seating at the counter.
If you’re asking yourself “why does he have a banana on his head?”, I’m afraid I can’t help you (because I didn’t ask either, and that’s a topic for another day), but I can tell you that nothing quite so dominated our conversation over the next 24 hours as this chance encounter with that banana (and the guy). A modest data gathering effort from people on the street ensued, intending to capture reactions from a reasonable cross-section of humans in the search for an answer. We’re still working on it, and the responses are as diverse as you might imagine.
In the meantime, here’s my first takeaway. Although we (I was with my LGL colleague and friend, Dr. Joe Doty) noticed the man with the banana on his head, we were in the minority.
Consider almost any social setting, especially Starbucks. Look around the dining room and you’ll likely see the majority buried in their laptops, tablets, or smartphones. Although a social setting, it’s not a very social environment. A “don’t bother me, can’t you see I’m busy or immersed in my own thoughts” attitude. People leave their where they live and go out into the world, to be alone. It’s counterintuitive. As a consequence, they aren’t socially aware (a tenet of emotional intelligence). We fear that these and other factors are rendering social awareness an endangered species.
So… until we complete our research and publish more findings about the man with the banana on his head, consider getting your heads up for a bit. Look around. Consider humanity. Help where you can. Engage your neighbors. Oh… and for goodness’ sakes, watch for and ponder the unusual. Humankind is fascinating.