the wildebeest [mentality]

Have you ever witnessed the Great Migration of wildebeest? Even if not in person, I hope you have seen images of the great stampede of the gnu on TV or in print.
It really is quite a marvel – about two million wildebeest, including newly birthed young and about half a million hanger-on zebra and antelope, traverse close to 3,000 kms of savannah, crossing crocodile infested rivers literally in search of greener pastures. A quarter of a million wildebeest don’t last the journey as they fall prey to natural predators.

The spectacle is nature in its rawest form. A struggle for survival of the fittest, each day every one of the migrators has to outrun the slowest member of the herd.


I was doing some casual work recently where we had scheduled breaks and meals provided for. It was my first time doing this work and present over the three day period were veterans who had been doing the gig for close to two decades. All shapes and sizes and backgrounds, the one thing we all had in common was we all held the same professional qualification. I mean, the right to use the letters showing your designation requires a few years study and rigorous exams in addition to a university degree. So presumably, each of my colleagues had been through the rings and I felt a shared sense of camaraderie. You know, like the kind when you’ve shared a stressful experience with someone and you become part of some secret circle.

That was until it was morning tea time. Once the food appeared, all the ‘professionals’ morphed in front of my eyes into a foaming herd of wildebeest. Ok, so Australians are not as good as the British when it comes to the delicate art of queueing but we do possess some etiquette. Not these wildebeest!
Hordes thronged the self-service carts to grab scones and quiches like they were going out of style. Never mind the tongs, both hands reached out for sushi rolls, eclairs and sandwiches. The ‘One Per Person  Please’ sign was a gauntlet thrown down to say, “Have a go. I don’t really mean it”.
The special dietary requirements cart fared no better as soon as the herd figured out these were less attended and, really,  who cares if you are allergic to nuts and dairy? If you can’t get your ham & cheese croissants and jam doughnuts first, you’re belong to the weaker group that deserves nothing more than thin tea. Get in first or miss out was the  motto. Those better prepared had pockets and plastic bags into which they shoved second and thirds for later.

And so the frenzy repeated for each of the seven meals served. Wildebeest are probably better animals.

I drank a lot of tea and it got me thinking, if I were a wildebeest, I’d have been eaten a long time ago.

the wildebeest [mentality]

13 thoughts on “the wildebeest [mentality]

  1. This is an interesting story. Definitely didn’t see the hoarding herd coming. It was not my experience with mealtimes in Oz, at weekend seminars for graduate school. My meal requirements were accommodated and the servings were generous. My batch mates were gracious. I wonder if your colleagues were not just stressed from doing a lot of detailed work and their bodies were craving carbs in response to the stress hormones. Sometimes, the primordial instinct kicks in. My office is a snack universe so if I feel like eating something, I just have to look at my desk. Someone is always leaving something eatable on there, with a kind note that they checked for allergens.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. SB, there was definitely something primordial and basal about the whole behaviour. We live in a society of excess and mountains of waste so it was baffling to see swathes of people descend upon food like they had been starved for eons.
      It might have something to do with culture (it was a diverse gathering) where food is the scarce centrepiece of daily rituals and that traditional attachment has not been shaken in the new setting. It’s my observation of the demographic.
      So the herd failed to see there were no lions.

      Your workplace seems like a lovely place to be with such thoughtful colleagues.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can relate. Totally. I see it all the time. I specify vegetarian (because it is less complicated than saying pescatarian) and the clearly marked vegetarian platter and others that are separated by dietary requirements seem to be a free for all. I take snacks for catered events because I don’t handle hunger well, and consider myself lucky if I get a half a falafel roll and a slice of rockmelon haha.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s tragic that you have to do that Mek, and I applaud your preparedness.
    But I really was ashamed to be associated with this group. I’m not being elitist. People should have more sense and consideration.

    The rockmelon was safe, by the way, because everyone was distracted by the lamingtons 😉
    Have a great week ahead!


  4. Deb says:

    Every time I see the migration I often think I would never make it to the other side. I feel the same way when stuck in situations like you were in. On the plus, sitting back and watching things unfold sometimes can be very comical…after they have stirred the anger up.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Each time I see the movement I regularly think I could never make it to the next side. I feel the same way when stuck in circumstances like you were in. On the also, kicking back and watching things unfurl infrequently can be extremely hilarious… after they have blended the resentment up.

    Liked by 1 person

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