Monday, December 20, 2010

Good Morning, Cockroach!

The cockroach, like all creatures, is a miracle of evolution and adaptation. It's unique segmented body design, and it's hardiness and durability are legendary among popular parlance. It can survive in the most trying circumstances, subsist on almost nothing and thrive on on the most meagre fare.

But there is one thing that it hasn't yet adapted to - a perfectly flat, even surface. Such a thing has not existed for the vast majority of the cockroaches millions of ancestors, and the modern day cockroach is now frequently found adventuring across such surfaces, in the corners of bathrooms and under microwave ovens all over the world.

The problem with flat, even surfaces only becomes apparent to the cockroach when it is unfortunate enough to capsize, and land on it's back. Its method for righting itself is to wave it's legs and antennae wildly, in an effort to grab a hold of the leaf litter, sticks or grass of its habitat, and using the unevenness of the ground, get enough purchase to end up with the sky above it once more, ready to begin further scurrying.

In the absence of such things, as you are unlikely to find on the smooth porcelain of a bathroom floor, all this flailing fails to correct the problem. Unless it can find the edge of the toilet, or a stray piece of paper, or a drain, the cockroach will lie there, legs thrashing, until eventually it dies. The unnatural modern environment, as we have built it, can kill the hardiest of creatures, in the most benign way.

As I stare down at the final valiant, yet ultimately useless throes of a member of this species, shaving my face, and constantly watching the clock on my way to my 9AM meeting, it dawns on me that perhaps it's possible that our modern environment affects us in similar ways. What has humanity evolved to expect, that for whatever reason, is no longer there?

Would we as a species be stupid enough to create such a thing? One would assume that for humans, the things we hold dear and important to our survival would be at the center of any system that emerged from our clever behaviour. I mean, it's not like cockroaches got together and invented linoleum tiles. That would be an ironic end, indeed.

Grabbing a tissue, I scoop the corpse of the recently deceased insect, and, perhaps a little ceremoniously, flush him/her down the toilet.

Time to get to work.

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