Monday, May 22, 2006

Hobson's Choice

One of the many alternatives on a menu is called ‘Hobson’s Choice’.

If you select ‘Hobson’s Choice’ it means that you choose to take pot luck and eat whatever is put before you.

The expression derives from Cambridge in England when in the 17th Century there was a man by the name of Hobson who kept a stable of horses that he hired out to people.

If you came to Thomas Hobson and asked him if you could hire a horse, it was his unbreakable rule that you took the one right next to the door. If you didn’t take that one, you got none at all. It was from this Tom Hobson and his insistence that without choice you took the horse next to the door that there comes the phrase ‘Hobson’s Choice’.

Very rarely do people get the chance to live their lives on the basis of their first choice, for life often confronts us with a choice which is really ‘Hobson’s Choice’. It may happen that through force of circumstance we are left with no alternative. Illness may leave us with no choice as to the kind of work we have to do. Misfortune may leave us with no choice as to what it is possible for us to have.

We can select ‘Hobson’s Choice’ in the restaurant but the real test of character is how we stomach ‘Hobson’s Choice’ when it is placed before us in life.

Geoff Pound

Image: A Hobson Horse?