Thursday, June 12, 2014

On Running Out Of Toilet Paper

The time: last night.

The place: the parking lot of my gym.

I'd just finished up an ersatz set of deadlifts, the sort of set you put in when it's not a serious amount of weight but you're unaccountably weak anyway. Blame it on bad eating, bad sleep, a hangnail, whatever it is, you just ain't got it today.

You yawn your way through these kinds of workouts, do just enough to hang a sign on the day which says "I was here", no more, no less. It's the sort of day which would cause any personal trainer to flip a mental coin: heads, give you a lecture on putting more intensity into your training. Tails...but they're glad you came in anyway.

The Berkey theory of boring consistency and all that. It'll take you miles. I gave the day my full 50%, called it good enough and went the fuck home.

Or tried.

I walked across the parking lot. It was raining. I got in my car, turned the key. Engine came to life. Can't shift out of park.


Phone's out of juice. Luckily, I had my charger and the engine ran fine, at least. I plugged it in and since I'm a 21st century type of guy, pulled up Google.

Long story short: easy fix, just didn't have the parts. There was a way to get it temporarily working, but it was a little iffy and not something common sense told me I should do. There's a fine line between jury rigging and suicide.

After getting the gym owner's okay on potentially leaving the car there overnight, I called my friend, who is one of those sorts of friends who would help you dispose of bodies should you need such services, asked him for a lift home, which wasn't far, and got home.

Stared at the screen for fifteen minutes and then face-palmed, grabbed a screwdriver and got a lift back.

There was an easier and much less scary jury-rig to get my car on the road, see. It was also very obvious, if you're used to duct tape solutions. And that potentially saved me a towing fee and a fairly humiliating talk at the shop: "You do realize all you had to do was poke this screwdriver right into this hole, right?"

Was it a bad day? No.

I'm fond of days like this, actually. There's a bit of rush when you're caught with your pants down in the bathroom stall and you realize you're all out of toilet paper.* You find yourself thinking creatively in ways which tickle your primate brain.

You find yourself doing things like wiping yourself with a page from Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene (true story). Not my proudest literary moment, but I'd just finished a difficult passage and the allegory was beginning to get to me. And, to be fair, there was no TP in that stall. I felt justified and there wasn't anything else in my backpack that I was more pissed off at than that.

I get inordinately pleased with myself when I have to do something like this. For example, I could break into my last truck using nothing more than a dime, a quarter and a small stick. And a bit of contortionism. It came in handy more often than you'd think. I think my keys had some sort of cloaking device or ability to teleport from my pocket to the floor of the truck. It was occasionally awful and you could set a calendar by the regularity of the occurrence.

None of these situations are particularly macho. It's not like I'm living on a rubber raft out in the South Pacific for six months, subsisting on sea gulls for food and hydrating myself by sucking the juice from fish.

But handling an emergency in a way that's almost insultingly low tech makes you feel like Tarzan sometimes. It's great.

I can see why people occasionally just go out in the middle of nowhere with the most minimal of equipment. Not enough to actually do it, mind you, since I'm a big fan of regular showers and not eating bugs.

* I can't take credit for the toilet paper comparison. A few years back, there was a book of occasionally-dubious entrepeneurial advice centering on that situation as a metaphorical hook. It was interesting and probably useful for people willing to just burn their entire life down and give their all to an enterprise, but the advice was laughably extreme at times.

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