Life often presents us with genuine choices. But sometimes, choice is an illusion.

Several years ago my wife and I were working in Zimbabwe. One day we had to drive briefly through part of neighboring Zambia, and stopped for gas at a small Zambian gas station. Because the gas station was near the border, they accepted payment in Zimbabwean currency, the Zim dollar. (The Zambian currency is called Kwacha.) The gas station attendant filled our tank, and then approached us for payment. After handing him the cash, we had the following exchange:

Zambian gas guy: “Do you want your change in Zim dollars or Kwacha?”

Tagore: “Zim dollars, please.”

Zambian gas guy: “We don’t have Zim dollars.”

Tagore: ?! “I guess I’ll have Kwacha.”

But you don’t have to travel to Zambia to experience “the choiceless choice;” you just need a spouse.

Last week I agreed with a friend to attend an event on a Wednesday night. When I told my wife that I had made plans, she responded that we had planned to go to the temple that night, that we hadn’t been to the temple for a long time, that we wouldn’t have a chance to go anytime in the near future, and that she had been looking forward to us having a night out… but that I could go ahead and choose what I wanted to do. Any sensible person realizes there is no choice there.

Is the choiceless choice a particularly female thing? Do men present women with choiceless choices?