Slide Right When Empty

April 17, 2012

Picture it.

You’re sitting on a public toilet seat.  All right, well, you’re really not sitting.  You’re hovering, because there is no way you’re putting your bare behind there.  There is a questionable dark mark on one side of the seat and some unexplainable wetness on the other.  Instead of pulling down a wad of toilet paper to throw on the seat and using your foot to move it around until the seat is slightly less dubious, you have just decided to wing it in the hovering position.  However, you also have your coat on, so while you are hovering, you are also trying to lift your coat high enough so as to avoid any indirect contact as a result of the bad aim the hovering technique precludes.  But while you are hovering there, hoping that nothing on your person comes into contact with anything else in the stall, you check things out.

Now, your brain is already fully engaged, so it’s not like you’re thinking deep thoughts.  You’re just looking for something amusing while you relieve yourself.  Usually there is some moderate to good graffiti on the walls.  So and so was here in 2003.  Why anyone would want to proclaim that fact for any purpose, I do not know, but it’s a quite common life goal.  Perhaps, I just lack the necessary ambition.  But if you didn’t check for the TP before you assumed the hovering position, you’re checking now because you’re going to need it.  And that’s most likely when you’ve seen this.

Slide right when empty.

Based on where the writing is, you know that it means to push the little plastic door over if there is no toilet paper left on the exposed roll.  It’s a simple enough instruction, but while you are hovering and your brain is trying to find anything to think about other than the fact that you are in a most awkward position, you wonder…

What if the other side is empty, too?

It’s one of the few moments of sheer awkward terror.  You may be left hovering on that toilet seat with no means of escape.  It’s the moment when you pull the chord for your back up shoot and … nothing.

This same feeling is applicable to many aspects of life in general.  What if an irritating co-worker approaches you for the sixtieth time to discuss the same report that he already discussed with you that day only now he’s eaten lunch and his breath smells like a dying skunk baking on a rock in the desert?  What if the punk kid at the end of the grocery store check out who is supposed to be lovingly putting your organic milk in a different bag from your organic eggs but instead is so busy flirting with the young blonde thing in the next check out line over that he’s really not bagging so much as putting objects into other objects?

What happens then?

You make the punk kid rebag your groceries.

Yes, this may in turn make you a punk, but it exercises a very rarely used part of your brain.  The fight or flight mechanism.  This is the back up shoot to the back up shoot.  Did you ever see the footage of those people who lifted the car off of the motorcycle rider?  That’s the fight or flight mechanism in action.

The mechanism makes you do things that you wouldn’t normally do, but when you slide right and find the other side empty, too, that mechanism becomes handy.

A more applicable example is this.  I’ve been sending queries out to editors and publishers for much too long on the same pieces, and I finally said to hell with it.  And I just started sending stuff out.  I broke all of the querying rules and regulations, and just sent out a letter.  While you may gasp in shock and awe, I must protest.

Until you say something interesting, you’re just another email in someone’s inbox.

So slide right when empty, pull the back up shoot to the back up shoot, and tell that punk kid to get a couch when his shift’s over.  Right now it’s bagging time.


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