This actually did happen to a real person, and the real person was me. I had gone to catch a train. This was April 1976, in Cambridge, U.K. I was a bit early for the train. I’d gotten the time of the train wrong. I went to get myself a newspaper to do the crossword, and a cup of coffee and a packet of cookies. I went and sat at a table.
I want you to picture the scene. It’s very important that you get this very clear in your mind. Here’s the table, newspaper, cup of coffee, packet of cookies. There’s a guy sitting opposite me, perfectly ordinary-looking guy wearing a business suit, carrying a briefcase. It didn’t look like he was going to do anything weird. What he did was this: he suddenly leaned across, picked up the packet of cookies, tore it open, took one out, and ate it.
Now this, I have to say, is the sort of thing the British are very bad at dealing with. There’s nothing in our background, upbringing, or education that teaches you how to deal with someone who in broad daylight has just stolen your cookies.
You know what would happen if this had been South Central Los Angeles. There would have very quickly been gunfire, helicopters coming in, CNN, you know… But in the end, I did what any red-blooded Englishman would do: I ignored it. And I stared at the newspaper, took a sip of coffee, tried to do a clue in the newspaper, couldn’t do anything, and thought, what am I going to do?
In the end I thought, Nothing for it, I’ll just have to go for it, and I tried very hard not to notice the fact that the packet was already mysteriously opened. I took out a cookie for myself. I thought, That settled him. But it hadn’t because a moment or two later he did it again. He took another cookie. Having not mentioned it the first time, it was somehow even harder to raise the subject the second time around. “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but notice …” I mean, it doesn’t really work.
We went through the whole packet like this. When I say the whole packet, I mean there were only about eight cookies, but it felt like a lifetime. He took one, I took one, he took one, I took one. Finally, when we got to the end, he stood up and walked away. Well, we exchanged meaningful looks, then he walked away, and I breathed a sigh of relief and sat back.
A moment or two later the train was coming in, so I tossed back the rest of my coffee, stood up, picked up the newspaper, and underneath the newspaper were my cookies.
The thing I like particularly about this story is the sensation that somewhere in England there has been wandering around for the last quarter-century a perfectly ordinary guy who’s had the same exact story, only he doesn’t have the punch line.
Douglas Adams, well known for writing The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy shares a very British story
According to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, there are rules that determine the reaction of most lifeforms to emerging technologies. One: Anything that is in your world when you are born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way things work. Two: anything that’s invented in the first third of your lifespan is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Three: anything invented once you are middle-aged is against the natural order of things.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: Quintessential Phase
just wanna remind y'all that there was a character in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who accidentally became immortal and decided to spend his eternity of suffering traveling through time and space to insult everyone in the universe, one by one, in alphabetical order, and if that’s not a hero idk what is
Seriously though, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy conveys “the universe fundamentally does not care about you” better than just about any cosmic-horror story I’ve ever seen.
Its whole theme is, “the default state of life is a parade of ridiculous out-of-left-field nonsense and disaster and beauty which does not care about your personal virtue” and it can embrace and celebrate the weirdness without getting bogged down in overwrought elder pantheons.
And it’s packed with non-sequiturs and shaggy-dog stories and rambling detours but they’re all in service of that message, and the story’s just gleefully having fun with concepts like an immortal alien who’s determined to insult everyone in the galaxy to their face in alphabetical order.
Basically, the Hitchhiker’s Guide is the guy on the right:
There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
i want the “i want you to become the leader of voltron” thing to become a huge joke. shiro accidentally breaks one of allura’s favorite cups. its dead quiet. he looks up and makes eye contact with keith; “keith, if i don’t make it out of this alive. i want you to lead voltron.”
The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.
Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time
So how’d you do it, how’d you graduate so fast?
It was my parent's dying wish before they passed
You're an orphan, of course I’m an orphan. God, I wish there was a war then we could prove that we’re worth more than anyone bargained for
Can I buy you a drink?
By drink Arron Burr meant alcohol. ’The Encyclopedia Galactica’ describes alcohol as a colourless, volatile liquid formed by the fermentation of sugars and also notes its intoxicating effect on certain carbon-based life forms.