Don't open that window!
It's a crisp Autumn morning and you've just taken your seat on a bus.
Through the window you see grass glisten as droplets of dew cling on to each and every blade.
The sun has made an appearance but it's warm embrace has not reached you just yet.
A couple of stops in a red-faced passenger gets on the bus. He's after running to make the bus and is clearly out of shape.
As he takes his seat he reaches up to open the window, probably already feeling sweat trickle down his back and coat his armpits.
As soon as he opens it you feel a shiver run down your spine as a cool breeze ripples through the bus.
You're cold now.
The ambient temperature had been fine and everyone else seemed to agree (as no one else that opened a window), but this one person needed to cool themselves and so now everyone has to take that cold hit.
"Prick," you think to yourself, "I'm cold now and there's still an hour left on this trip."
Across the aisle you're glad to see someone else zip up their coat. You're not the only one unhappy about this situation.
You question whether the guy that opened the window is even feeling the cold. The window is right above his head so he's probably not even feeling the cold breeze.
What does it all mean?
The windows on a bus are a contentious thing.
Socially speaking, there are no standard operating procedures.
I have seen people open the windows on freezing cold days and I've seen people get up a close them from five seats back.
One time there was a little altercation as one guy kept opening a window and another kept closing it, until finally the closer shouted "It's fucking freezing back there," settling the issue once and for all.
What's interesting to me is the potential for conflict that exists around something so seemingly trivial.
If you're on a bus and you're freezing cold because someone else opened a window then you will likely feel pretty strongly about that window.
On the other hand, if you got on the bus and you are sweating for whatever reason then you won't think twice about opening a window.
On a sweltering hot day if people don't open the windows you would be equally frustrated.
Thinking about this makes me appreciate how truly amazing it is that the world is not constantly at war.
That something so trivial can illicit such strong feelings in the moment should really make it no surprise that we see political, tribal and religious conflict all over the world.
I'd expect to see more.
It's hard to be understanding of someone else's point of view and/or actions when it negatively impacts you, however severe and tangible the actual impact is.
It was hard to empathize with the sweaty guy on the bus because what cooled him down made me uncomfortably cold.
Just like it can be hard to support less well off members of society at the expense of the tax payer.
Just like it can be hard to empathize with a refugee fleeing a war torn country when they are given a 'free' house and support when you have to spend most of your pay check on rent.
Harder still is summoning empathy for a drug addict that has resorted to crime.
But it's worth remember that some day, you yourself, or someone you care about, might be feeling hot and sweaty on a bus one cold morning.