A normal placid trip through the canal takes, oh, about 24 hours most of the time. Passage requires transport through various locks; gates have to open and close. It’s all pretty closely monitored with a computer and a closed-loop control system. Traffic jams are to be avoided; smooth flow for all cargo is highly desirable. Smooth, slow and steady wins the race.
Powered movement is usually quite slow and leisurely. That’s ok, because we really don’t want these things to move in a hurry along the old canal. That can put stress on the system. It was designed for slow, almost casual, progress.
There actually are some interesting, um, sights along the way. And some noteworthy stops as well.
The particulars of your genetic makeup, your lifestyle and diet can affect the time for passage through the canal.
For instance I — as an aerospace engineer who works on a secured campus where access to every building requires a computer controlled scan of an RFID security badge — well, my lifestyle includes a few cups of coffee every morning. Also, lots of water and eight to ten servings of uncooked vegetables and fruit every day.
Consequently, a trip through my canal is usually only about 12 to 18 hours. Of course, I’m speaking here about the alimentary canal. Yes, the old digestive tract, the canal that begins at one’s mouth, proceeds through several locks and gates, hits a couple lay-bys, and ends at … how do I put this nicely? Well, I can’t … it ends at one’s anus.
Thanks to the hydration, the fruits and the vegetables, the locks and gates for me are usually wide open. To spice it up a bit: Beverages with caffeine in them are often nicknamed “Morning Thunder”, and for good reason. This means that sometimes the 12 hour delivery catches up with the 18 hour delivery, so it can be rather a significant cargo.
My office is in a building with two men’s restrooms. When Morning Thunder happens – usually around 8 to 9AM – it’s simply astounding how often the first restroom I go to is closed for its daily cleaning. I mean, what are the odds? I love the cleaning staff, but, wouldn’t 6AM or Noon be more appropriate?
Also – I know this is weird – why does this often happen to several people at the same time? I mean, sometimes both restrooms are occupied. As luck would have it, that’s usually when the gates and locks are wide open; the freight train is coming downhill, with a full load of coal, and the brakes are getting weak.
I do have a recourse. The adjacent building has a restroom that has never, ever, ever, failed me. I call it “Old Faithful.” There is a dark hallway in that building, just past the closest door to my building – it of course has a security badge reader — and for some reason no one is ever in it. And I’ve never found the restroom in that hallway occupied.
I’ve only told one other person about this restroom, and if he ever tells anyone else about it, I swear I’ll kill him.
Often as I make my way to Old Faithful a remarkable phenomenon occurs: “Gophering.” Or sometimes it’s “Prairie dogging.” Just knowing that Old Faithful is waiting for me and my keister to rest on her wonderful seat in my moment of great need – in all my desperation and anticipation of relief – my brain and control system allow a slight, premature involuntary opening of the final gate. Thankfully, Old Faithful has never let me down. Has always provided a safe port for that dramatic, last moment, splashdown.
A few weeks ago I had that Morning Thunder feeling. Restroom #1: closed for cleaning. Restroom #2: Occupied. I always have a choice: I can cycle back to restroom #1, hoping it’s ready soon, then back to #2 (ha, ha, #2) if need be. Or I could go into a Ladies’ room. I’ve never chosen that latter.
If I shuffle back to #1 and it’s still being cleaned, then shuffle back to #2 (ha, ha again) and it’s still occupied, I’ve wasted a full minute, and the freight is even farther down the chute, piling up against the shutter valve.
That day I needed Old Faithful. I could not risk the extra minute. The locks were flooded and the gates of final protection were losing their commitment to their sworn duty.
I commenced to do the penguin waddle to the exit door, so that I could then amble across the small parking lot to the adjacent building. There would be good Old Faithful.
I left the building. As the door closed behind me I had a sort of vague uncomfortable feeling. Something wasn’t quite right. And it wasn’t just the onset of gophering or the shifting of my balast. It was like the feeling you get when you leave the house and halfway to where you’re driving you get the feeling you’ve left something simmering on the stove, or the windows open, or the bathtub water running.
Focus Joe, focus. You can do it. Penguin waddle. Only 20 yards across the parking lot to the next building and then a few more yards to Old Faithful.
Then that feeling agian. And I realized! I realized that my security badge was not where it was supposed to be: on the lanyard around my neck. No lanyard equals no badge. Without the badge I could not get past the security badge reader into the building where Old Faithful awaited my dramatic buzzer beating appearance. In fact, I could not even return to my own building. I was stranded. Stranded in the parking lot. And I was absurdly desperate.
I experienced genuine panic accompanied with acute awareness of my case of steadily progressing Gophering. Prarie dogging. Please, God, someone show up and hold the door for me. Are there bushes near here?
Ten seconds. Twenty seconds. Concentrate. Squeeze. You can do it buddy.
Thirty seconds. I’m pretty sure I’ll need to drive home for … um … a wardrobe adjustment.
That’s when I put my hand into my sports coat and found … ah ha! … my security badge with the RFID strip.
Why did I put it there? No time for that thought.
Waddle. Waddle. Waddle. Open the door.
Penguin squeezes his buns and waddles to Old Faithful. Oh, Old Faithful. OH please!, Please Old Faithful, don’t let me down. Please!
The freight train is now at the station. There’s Old Faithful and her door is … ajar. She is available for me. Again.
Oh thank you! Shipment safely delivered.
That was one very special delivery.
Every single day is special, in its own way.
Wishing you peace and tidy, timely deliveries.
Joe Girard © 2015