Aren’t people amazing? Faced with the unprecedented situation of volcanic ash filling the skies but invisible to our eyes during the traditional Easter holidays, chaos ensues. But you can’t keep a good person down. Instead of staying put and watching the holiday money dwindling as prices go up, many people embarked on their own tale of derring –do. One by one our contacts are coming in with elaborate tales of their own personal caravanserai which you can’t help feeling will remain vivid after the beach and cocktail stories have faded in their memories. Yet, in many cases if you had stayed put, you would probably have got home at much the same time. For those sitting exams you can see the imperative. Would the world have stopped turning if you hadn’t been at the office? Was there no other creative way to do business? Could your team cope without you?
What is the psychology behind people’s reactions? A big part is the need to exert control, do something, take back the initiative when the authorities will give no definitive answer. Volcanologists in media interviews were asked to give the exact time for when Eyjafjallajokull (easy for you to say) would settle down. They shrugged. In our modern world we are used to predictability, having our own way, taming nature. We all now know that we can probably predict that sister volcano Katla will go up sometime in the next hundred years but we don’t know if it will be tomorrow. So we exert control over what we can. We look at train time – tables. Then there is the good old war – time spirit. Much of the time our lives are relatively easy while we complain about how hard they are. Even gap years when you go off to find yourselves are systematically organised with online contact at every step of the way. Holidays are planned and packaged. We are appalled if the slightest wrinkle threatens paradise. Yet, when something big happens, out comes all this spirit. People report not having washed or shaved for three whole days – The hardship! There is temporary bonding and belonging as people define themselves as Volcanic Nomads on Facebook. Creativity and problem solving come to the fore. People find routes they never previously knew about. Tenacity rules and you become a hero, battling all odds for as much as 53 hours! People – don’t you just love them? Don’t ever underestimate what they are capable of. We want to hear your tales of people functioning well under the cloud.