When I was travelling on the Ghan railway between Adelaide and Alice Springs, I shared a cabin with an odd chap called Scott.
Scott was paranoid about being eaten by tigers and dragons. He had heard from some of his mates that there had been sightings of such dangerous beasts in central Australia in recent months.
It was an odd paranoia, I know, but Scott seemed adamant that on this journey, either a tiger or a dragon would somehow get on to the train and eat him.
Scott sat down, reached into his bag and pulled out a clock and a ream of blue A4 paper. The train left Adelaide on time. Scott was staring at his clock and after 5 minutes, he jumped up out of his seat, screwed up a piece of blue paper and threw it out the window.
Exactly five minutes later, he did the same thing. Five minutes later, the same. And so it went.
After this happened for the tenth time, I asked Scott why he was doing it.
In a calm and somewhat self-assured manner, he simply said, “to keep the tigers and dragons away, to stop them from eating me”.
I let the matter rest, despite the fact that the threat of such an attack was, well, seemingly very low. But what did I know?
As the trip continued, the spectacle continued, with Scott jumping up every five minutes, screwing up the paper and throwing it out the window.
Finally, we made it into to the station at Alice Springs. What a journey. As we were getting off the train, Scott had a rather self-satisfied, smug look to him.
“Ha”, he said, “it worked! We made it and not a tiger or dragon in sight”.
Which just goes to show how successful some strategies can be, at least in the minds of some.