Wednesday, 6 April 2016

I shower at night.

As in, in the evening, before bed. I like to feel clean when I go to bed, and also I don't like the thought of the crap I put in my hair getting on my pillow and therefore onto my face. Not to mention how sweaty and oily-feeling my face can get throughout the day.

So tonight, after a long and busy day, I turned on the water and climbed in, and I noticed a spider in the corner, down near the drain. In America we would call it a daddy longlegs. (Though I know that in Britain that term is designated for a certain spindly-legged insect, though I can't remember which one at this moment.) It was one of those spiders with a tiny body and eight thin, angular legs. I thought, Huh, another spider that's lost its way by coming in the house and will end up down the drain before long.

I watched as it reacted to the first few drops of water. The spray from the shower head didn't directly hit it, and I didn't purposefully throw water on it, but it obviously felt a few droplets from the splattering water as it hit the floor. I watched with casual interest as I put my head under the falling water and more droplets ricocheted in its direction. It tried to climb away but it couldn't quite make it up the slope of the corner, and it started to struggle as more and more water washed its feet closer to the black hole of the drain. Maybe I should just throw some water on it and get rid of it, I thought.

But then something strange happened. It collapsed. Its whole body limped into a mass of thin angles. It gave up. I felt a sense of pity for this small creature, and part of me thought, Great, now I'm going to think of its helplessness as it tumbles into its abyss.

And a flash came to me. Hang on a sec. I have complete control of what happens next. I don't have to let this thing suffer. I could save it, I guess, and spiders eat bugs anyway, right? Why not save it. Yeah, but I'm all wet now, and it's a hassle, and I'm tired and it's just a spider anyway. Well hang on. Yes, it's just a spider. But it's still a cog in this grand machine of life. It is just a small creature controlled by its brain, and it made no real transgression by entering the house. And after all, why not? I have complete control.

So I turned off the water and stepped out of the shower. I risked the irritation of my housemates by removing with my wet hand the toilet tissue that had been placed over the window handle. And after fishing through the bin, I found an old cardboard toilet roll thingy and brought it back to the shower. The spider was still motionless. I nudged it gently with the cardboard, but still nothing. I poked it again, and it shot two legs into the air, dangling like antennae. I tried to coax it with a slow, upward motion, and eventually a few more legs shot up and it grabbed the cardboard, grasping for dry air. It clung to the cardboard, so I lifted it up, went to the window, and threw it out.

We don't have to be monsters. Most of us aren't. Kindness costs nothing extra. I could have let that tiny thing plummet down the drain, and the world wouldn't have been any different. But I don't want to be that kind of guy who lets things happen just because deep down I know it won't make a difference. I don't want to be the kind of person who doesn't care about the little things.

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