I love hypothetical questions. They not only make you think in a critical way that can challenge the very core of who you think you are, but they can also help you uncover facets of other people’s personalities that you may have never known existed.
I’ve got five of my self-made favourites listed below, and I’ve included a poll for each so you can see how your own preferences compare to the common pleb.
1. Sleep: do you really need it?
Imagine that you no longer need sleep. Your body can sometimes feel a little tired after strenuous exercise, and long periods of work or concentration can make you a bit spaced out, but generally you remain permanently awake and alive.
Sleep grants you no benefit whatsoever.
The question is: do you want that?
Plenty of those I’ve spoken to about this would prefer to keep on sleepin’ as they enjoy the cyclical nature of each day and the actual act of switching off each night.
You waste up to 30 years of your life sleeping, so it blows my mind anyone would want that.
Sleep. Get rid of it, I say. That’s eight more hours every day to do stuff in.
If it was healthy to do so, would you give up sleeping?
2. £10 billion to live in Pakistan … forever
Pretty simple, this one. The premise is explained in the title really.
You receive ten billion pounds in your bank account in exchange for emigrating to Pakistan and on one other condition.
You can never leave its borders.
You can fly people in, you can invade India and reclaim more land for Pakistan, but you cannot leave. If you try, you will have a heart attack and die.
For me, it’s a deal. I’ll take the money.
Would you move to Pakistan forever for £10 billion?
3. The year-long Alan Carr project
Right, so if you don’t know who Alan Carr is, look him up on Wikipedia.
In a nutshell, he strikes me as being a slightly annoying but pleasant enough overtly gay comedian. He’s generally quite famous in the UK.
In this hypothetical, you must negotiate a salary to sleep with Alan Carr for a year. Nothing sexual is required, it’s just that you cannot fall asleep without Alan at your side and in whichever bed you’re sleeping in.
He has negotiated his own deal, the terms of which means the onus is on him to ensure he is with you wherever you sleep.
Your friend’s sofa, your girlfriend’s bed, an overseas hotel, the seat of a train – you name it, Carr has to be there. He’ll cover the cost of his own travel and other expenses.
One mistake between you though – any night you find yourself without him – and the entire year’s payment is forfeit.
Realistically it means you always have to be within a few dozen miles of each other for a whole year, and will require regular, daily communication.
So if ever you’re going on holiday, or on a night out or otherwise will not be in your own bed, you’ll have to let Alan know so he can make plans accordingly. He might have a bit of a moan too, especially if you’re in a single bed or somewhere inconvenient.
At this stage there’s no knowing what he’ll be like, whether he’ll be a snorer or have bad breath etc., but generally you can be assured that’s he reliable and will make it to your place of rest each night, assuming you’ve been reasonable and communicative.
Lowest price I’d do it for? About £40,000, I reckon.
Name your lowest price to platonically sleep with Alan Carr for a year
4. One million pounds in cash or a magic 10p machine
Borne of a Brighton lunchtime chat many years ago, this hypothetical question is essentially a basic binary choice between two life-changing options.
The first choice is one million pounds in cash. It goes straight to your bank account, tax-free and ready for spending.
The second choice is more complicated. Instead of the million, this option grants you a small machine, no bigger than your fist.
On it, there’s a small red button. Press this button and a ten pence piece will instantly tumble out. You can press it as much as you like, and the output of the machine is limited only by the speed of the input – meaning there is no technical limit to how many 10ps you can yield per minute.
Anyone or anything can be used to press it, but nothing known to man can penetrate the shell of the machine or otherwise manipulate its workings.
Which do you choose? The quick-win cash injection, or the long-term investment of a magic machine? The latter comes with all sorts of eyebrow-raising, authority-inspecting questions, yet those that plan effectively could potentially manage to build an industrial metal production plant without the need for any raw materials, which is likely to be far more lucrative than the alternative option.
I prefer the mystery, fun and challenge of the 10p machine.
Which would you rather have – a magic 10p dispenser or £1m cash?
5. The front-garden rollercoaster nuisance
Another from the ‘how much would you …’ breed of questions, this particular quandary was adapted from a friend’s hypothetical, so I can’t claim all the credit on it.
Put simply, it comes down to how much of a payrise it would take for you to have your accommodation modified so that the entire exterior wall of your house is fitted with glass, and so that your front garden features a major rollercoaster attraction that crosses your now-windowed walls.
This means that every 120 seconds or so, a train full of excitable cretins screams with joy as they whizz pass your house. Though traveling fast, they also get to observe whatever you happen to be doing as they go by.
You cannot erect any interior dividers to afford yourself extra privacy, but you can hold towels and things to protect your dignity when using the shower or toilet.
The operation of the rollercoaster is 24 hours a day, every day but Sundays and bank holidays.
You can hear it and see it fly past from every room in the house, and the always-full cartful of thrill-seekers can see you right back, wherever you are inside.
The organisers will remove all evidence of the attraction and restore your house and neighbourhood to how they found it whenever you like, but at that moment you’ll also stop getting paid your new salary and will return to whatever you are paid right now.
You can have the rollercoaster installed forever if you so please, as you will be getting all this extra pay for it for as long as its there. You can go on short holidays and so on, but you cannot move house or live elsewhere. or at least must rearrange and renegotiate the deal if you plan on relocating.
You keep your current job (and can change jobs), and this payment just goes on top of whatever paycheck you get each month from your employer.
So, what’s the lowest salary increase you would agree to this rollercoaster stuff for?
I’d go down to as low as £30,000 as I don’t think it would bother me that much and is a great way to earn extra cash to go with my normal income.
What’s the minimum extra salary you would accept to put up with a front-garden rollercoaster?
So there we go. Five fun hypotheticals to waste time talking about. If enough people read this post I’ll assume it was a success and publish the disgusting-themed version, complete with four other hypotheticals, each more gross and sordid than the last.