Thursday, January 14, 2010

Go With the Flow

Twice while washing dishes this week, I noticed that the entire belly of my sweatshirt was drenched, and that there was a small puddle of water on the floor near my feet. Where, I wondered, was the water coming from? I examined the pipes under the sink, the spray nozzle I use to rinse the dishes… No leaks. Nothing unusual. Huh. Must have accidentally poured a glass of water all over everywhere without realizing it. I'm old. That'll happen.

The third time the same scenario took place I discovered the root of the problem. ("Third time's a charm," my mom used to say.) The mat under the dish drainer was pushed away from the lip of the sink, leaving a huge gap. Therefore, the water that drained off the dishes into the mat flowed onto the counter rather than into the sink. This old farmhouse where I come hide to write is not level, so the water ran like a river along the narrow strip of counter top in front of the sinks. Since I lean into the countertop when I wash dishes, my sweatshirt served as its own Sham-WOW!, although not as well. It sopped up some of the water but the rest overflowed onto the floor.

RESOLUTION: Push mat lip over sink edge where it belongs. Water flows where it's supposed to.  Problem solved.

The next day I went to see the movie Up In the Air starring George Clooney. For those unfamiliar with the plotline, let's just say Clooney is handsome. Whoops! Let's just say Ryan Bingham, the character he plays, flies 300+ days a year and he likes it that way. Due to Bingham's mega accrual of miles and perks, he's able to go directly to the front of most lines, is greeted with first-class familiarity and happy smiles. (Yes sir, Mr. Bingham.  Good evening, Mr. Bingham.) He packs his carryon, his plans and his life with tidy, seamless, unencumbered efficiency. And yet, when he gets to his hotel room door he can never find the correct plastic key card, which is the one condition to which this travel-on-the-cheap woman could relate.

During my drive home from the theater, I attempted to mentally file the ending of the movie in a satisfactory place. I mulled a few plotline details including two surprises and one particularly ambiguous scene. Blamm-o! The sink drainer fiasco popped into my mind. (I have no idea how my brain puts things like this together.)

Of course! It only took me about a half-mile of further mulling before the nuances of the dish drainer fiasco revealed themselves to be the perfect metaphors for not only the movie, but life on the road. I herewith present my perfect endings for both.

--'Tis the flow (get it? water, flow?—told you there's no explaining my brain) of efficiency, not the TSA, that keeps travel running smoothly.

--When we are not careful in our strategic planning (i.e. too long or short of gaps to make connecting flights), things run amuck.

--Airplanes, hotel rooms, cell phones, carryons, dish drainers and especially humans are designed to work best in a certain way. Stay on guard lest things fall apart.

--Always keep a Sham-Wow! handy. You never know when you might need to sop up a mess, i.e. the time Clooney's character found himself diving into the river in his dress clothes to retrieve something important—and let me just say Clooney even looks good sopping wet. No whoops. I said that on purpose and I meant it.

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