Illustration: Simon Letch
APPARENTLY, the elixir of eternal life has been discovered. It is a very secret development, with only certain ''Privileged Ones'' privy to its existence.
You can spot a Privileged One. They're the people just standing on an escalator. Or unmoving in the middle of a footpath. Or walking across a pedestrian crossing at a speed previously reserved for narcoleptic snails.
They also generally have the slack-jawed, glazed look of someone terminally bored with their own existence. They are the aimless wanderers, coasters, laggards, dawdlers, stragglers, slow coaches, plodders - call them what you wish (my label of choice is not suitable for print). However, my conclusion is the same: immortality is the only possible explanation for their flagrant disregard of the march of time.
While we non-Privileged Ones worry about getting everything done, Privileged Ones mindlessly amble about, with no place to be and no place to go. Their lives stretch before them as an empty void; a chasm waiting to be filled with mindless pursuits such as riding escalators. Or standing in the middle of supermarket aisles staring blankly at sandwich spreads. Or slowly tacking their way up a bustling footpath.
Privileged Ones venture everywhere, but are more prevalent in shopping centres. I don't know if it's the lighting, the soporific music or a combination of the two that makes their brains spasm and shut down. Particularly the part that dictates limb speed and direction, as while they are slow they are also highly unpredictable. Overtake them at your peril.
You know the scenario: you've been stuck behind a Privileged One for what feels like a decade; slowly feeling your life force ebb away. Frustration reaches a crescendo. You can see the path ahead and it's clear! So you decide to sidestep them. But a Privileged One is tuned to pick up on the aggravation of those behind, as in that split second they'll come to a complete standstill. Or do a sudden about-face. Or something will grab their attention ("Look! It's shiny!"), and they'll turn on their heels and leisurely walk directly across the front of you.
This leaves you stumbling and fumbling as you try to regain your footing and not go barrelling over them, elbow a passer-by, fall flat on your back or do the trifecta.
Privileged Ones, I hate to break it to you, but life's finite. Great life experiences do not include spending three hours blocking an aisle in Coles deliberating on fabric softener, or idly standing on an escalator playing Angry Birds. Gather some pace. You don't want me stuck behind you. I'm one angry bird you don't want to play with.