Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Everglades Guide Crushed By Free Washing Machine

It could have happened. It almost did and make no mistake - I would have been embarrassed if I had been crushed by a new washing machine. But it would have been worth it. In the middle of the day last Friday I wandered out of my apartment and noticed a washer and dryer next to the recycling bins. They looked new from a distance so I ambled over and lo and behold I have no idea what "lo and behold" means. Apparently someone had vacated their apartment in a hurry and left a delightful assortment of bashed up particle board furniture, a few retro-futuristic lamps and a brand new washer and dryer set.

I darted back to my truck and drove it over to haul my treasure away and like a wolverine, snarled ferociously when prospective free washer and dryer prospectors swung by. Having successfully warded off all appliance competitors I was left with the task of moving these full-sized and ungainly machines into my truck and then up a flight of stairs into my apartment.

Of course I'm in the middle of my work day, but there is no way I am giving up an opportunity to procure my first washer and dryer set. And they are mint!

For a human to carry a washing machine up a flight of stairs by himself is a daunting task. But just a few weeks removed from my Ecuador experience, I am reminded of the powers of Ant who can lift something several times their body weight.

Specifically, the Leaf-cutter Ant was my inspiration. Ma-Le and I had watched a colony of these ants marching through the jungle to an unknown destination. I first noticed a stream of green beneath the Podocarpus National Park's office. On the left, ants with leaves 10x their size carried photosynthetic flags high over-head while on the right a stream of ants returned to cut another leaf .
So direct is their path that these tiny insects cut a swath through the grass. Look close below and you can see a couple heading to the woods.

The leaves are not food. Instead the leaves are food for a fungus that grows on them. The fungus ultimately is the food for the ants but only grows in certain conditions and the ant nest is the perfect place for it to grow. It's hard to step anywhere on the jungle path without having to avoid Leaf-cutters. The one pictured below was well off course. A lone ant climbing the steel wire trail on the suspension bridge to the other side of the river. No friends in sight.

Alone, the ant continued on. As did I with my washer and dryer. I would not be denied regardless of the folly of moving the machine by myself. I didn't have to lift it over my head, but it didn't make it any easier. Lifting it up a step. Holding it. Gripping it. Lifting it up another step and so on until I was on the 12th step. No going back. 2 steps to go. And LIFT!

There would be very little understanding from anyone if the washer had toppled back on me. I would have, without a doubt received a coveted Darwin Award for brilliantly removing myself from the gene pool. Someone might have found me crushed beneath the Whirlpool® Duet HT® Ultra Capacity Plus Front-Load Washer and thought "why didn't he ask for help?" or "At least it was an Energy Star...He would have wanted it that way."

But you never see two Leaf-cutter Ants helping each other with a single leaf. At least that was my justification for not asking for help. In truth an older man offered to help but when he bent down to lift the dryer, I heard several pops that sounded like a kid jumping on bubble wrap. He apologized and departed. A staffer from the apartment complex suggested he couldn't help for liability reasons and a few other people just drove by and stared at the crazy bald guy hoisting a washer up the stairs.

There's something to be said for community. Or lack thereof. For the lowly ants, hundreds of thousands of them perform the same task individually for the good of the colony. I could have used a helping hand. In the absence of assistance, I managed on my own but I couldn't pass up the opportunity. If I had waited for help, someone else might have snagged the goods and I would have been crushed.


  1. The background noise on video #1 is a cicada. deafining machine like sound.

    Background noise on video #2 is my Ecuadorian.

  2. It also occurs to me that I have posted 2 Ant related posts in a row. Without apology.

  3. Goof!! You have my number. I would have gladly helped you out. When you mentioned your great find on saturday I didn't realize that you were heaving them yourself...

    BTW? didn't you pull a muscle kayaking? Next time give me a call.


  4. Definition "lo and behold" -interjection —used to express wonder or surprise. - Merriam-Webster online dictionary

  5. I dig the videos, though I can't help but comment on the dangers of looking to leaf-cutter ants as inspiration for lifting. Lest I take up precious comment space by stating the obvious, suffice it to say, indeed, at least it was Energy Star. -LizzardKisser

  6. If I look up what Lo and Behold means than it takes the fun out of ignorance.

    And if I ask for help, what would I write about! But I certainly appreciate the thought TCS. So I guess you respond for things other than blood and guts?

  7. Ants-shmants, Pete. If God intended for people to lift heavy objects by themselves, he wouldn't have created hand trucks or moving companies...

  8. I agree with TCS, calling for help is a good idea in this cases, I hope you didnt hurt yourself.
    In the other hand, I'm glad we won't have to go to laundromat again, we'll have to get Mexican snacks elsewhere though.

  9. anything for a buddy.

    As the cliche goes......A friend will bail you out of jail but a Buddy will be sitting right next to you saying "Damn wasn't that fun?"


  10. Zat cat and I enjoyed the blog. The ant video was really cool. He really liked it. I played it for him a few times!

  11. ....and in the end... the washing machine didn't work.. now that would have been hilarious....