Testing a theory

It is a question that I have often asked myself. To the IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and the EQ (Emotional Quotient) tests, why not add the QQ test? But what on earth is that, you may well ask. It is what I call the Queue Quotient test, a process that efficiently assesses the personality traits of people.

Admittedly, there is no scientific data to support this, but it is an idea that merits consideration. All you have to do is to join or watch a queue to find out how well it works. What you will see is the ancient Hippocratic Humorism theory taking life and shape right before you. Let me try and explain.

Simply summed up, the Hippocratic theory divides human personality into four classes — Choleric, Melancholic, Phlegmatic and Sanguine. The queues that you see around you succeed admirably in bringing out these very qualities.

The Choleric are the bumptious. This kind of person is a law unto himself. He disregards with impunity the human snake stretching before him, marches his way to its head and gets his work done with aplomb and callousness. He brushes aside all protests with a ‘dare-me-if-you-can’ look. There is none to match his derring-do.

Meanwhile his opposite, the Melancholic, does nothing but watch and ponder over the goings-on. Still and silent, his mind as always is occupied with the tragedy, the cruelty and the unfairness that pervades the world. Standing for hours together in a slow-moving queue is but one of the agonies that the fate has thrust upon him.

The third kind, the Phlegmatic, is much like this companion. Though not glum, he is unwilling to do anything out of the way. He inches forward uncomplainingly, as he values stability and is averse to change.

Last but not least, is the Sanguine personality. He is cheerful and a people’s person. Slow progress does not perturb him and he whiles away his time chatting to anyone willing to listen to him.

Hippocrates’ classification ends here, but, as many have pointed out, there are several other personality types as well. The one I appreciate the most is what I call the Genial type. They are the ones who are cheery and kind. They do not hesitate to give way to the infirm, are ready to enlighten the ignorant and extend a helping hand to the elderly. The welcome sunshine behind our daily clouds, they are, you will agree, in a class of their own!

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