Pig Trails

I don’t actually know but I’ve been told that most highways were once trails. Trails carved from the hooves of pigs or cattle or such.  I don’t know if they were feral pigs or longhorn cattle but over the years they carved niches out of the landscape and that seem like the only explanation for why the roads meander like they do. I used to be amazed watching the livestock come back to my grandmothers farmhouse pens every night from the fields. Regardless if they were pigs, cows or horses they would be lined up one behind the other following the same trail night after night.

I guess over time the beaten down trails became ruts from the passing of wagon wheels.  Those same paths were eventually traversed by cars. Of course they leveled the ruts with various materials to make for smoother rides but the trails still exist albeit the livestock would turn into road kill today.

In a marketing class I took one semester I learned that there are patterns associated with how people maneuver especially in crowds. I was surprised to see that people would seemingly attract to each other like magnets and cause congestion even though there was plenty of surrounding open space. It’s really kind of bizarre when you think about it. The first people on a site will dictate the behaviors for the future. It had me wondering about those pig trails and how difficult it seems to be to get off them.   I wonder what would happen if someone just said the heck with it I’m gonna make a bee line for where I want to go.

I assume it would be easier to accomplish when the trail is relatively young versus old and well established. But then again I suppose it’s harder to really establish your bearings on exactly where you want to end up early in the life of the trail. No one wants to get lost especially when a perfectly good trail is already established to the desired destination regardless of how meandering it is.

Another extenuating circumstance in the life of a trail is that people seem to congregate on the trail, like in the marketing example. They take root so to speak the more established the trail the more squatters. They build fences and provide lemonade stands for the passersby. The trails are enhanced with  water, sewer and electrical lines traversing the meanderings. Before long the path is bordered on all sides by helpful people that just want to make your travels more pleasant. Stop and smell the roses they’ll say, life is not about arriving but it’s the journey you must enjoy! All the while commerce is occurring and the first to get established along the trail can make for meaningful and enjoyable life, not to mention profitable.

At some point in the life of the trail it is almost impossible to strike out on a more direct route. We now have Global Positioning Systems that can tell us exactly where we are and where our destination is down to the minutest detail. The need for trails has past but just try to strike out on that beeline to your destination and see what happens. I suppose there would be so many established fences to climb and constant hollering from land owners and no doubt shotguns being waved, this is Texas after all. Don’t forget the city, state and country governmental regulations that have been set up to assure individual rights are not trampled upon which would include property rights, right aways and such. Livelihoods and the ever popular “way of life” are at stake. Oh, progress seems to be continuing, after all the big box store did replace half a dozen mom and pop stores on the trail which just enhanced the trail travel but the destination is just as far away as it always was and longer to traverse given all the stop lights.

I guess it is the fact that most people don’t understand that pigs established the trail they are constantly traversing. Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against pigs or cattle or horses. I imagine they took the less stressful course to the destination. However there are better ways to get there today. Since we have had centuries of fording rivers, burrowing thru mountains, leveling hills and mapping every inch of terrain there is very little reason to continue down the trail if you wish to be efficient in getting to the destination.

The same goes for businesses. I am not talking about turning the pig trail into a super highway and essentially automating the mess but learning from prior travelers experience and utilizing the latest technology to implement a straight nonstop path to the destination. There is no reason to stop every so often to make a management decision before continuing down the trail. Every decision has already been made and the outcome known. Why do we need to have every succeeding generation go through the same decision making process to make the same right decision. We don’t!