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  • Chuka - Richard Jessup
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  • The Branch Will Not Break - James Wright
  • Roadmap Through Bullying: Effective Bully Prevention for Educators - Julie Nicolai
  • The Definitive Brother Juniper - Father Justin 'Fred' McCarthy
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  • The Shaggy Man of Oz - Jack Snow
  • The Magical Mimics in Oz - Jack Snow
  • The Silver Princess in Oz - Ruth Plumly Thompson
  • Armchair Locomotion - Jen May
  • Grin and Bear It - George Lichty
  • The Strange World of Mr. Mum - Irving Phillips
  • Brother Juniper - Fr Justin McCarthy
  • Brother Juniper at Work and Play - Fr Justin McCarthy
  • Brother Juniper Strikes Again - Fr Justin McCarthy
  • Battle Cry - Jen May
  • Inside Brother Juniper - Fr Justin McCarthy
  • More Brother Juniper - Fr Justin McCarthy
  • Well Done, Brother Juniper - Fr Justin McCarthy
  • The Whimsical World of Brother Juniper - Fr Justin McCarthy
  • The Ecumenical Brother Juniper - Fr Justin McCarthy

Squatters in Support of Commuter Inaction

by Nicolai on January 22, 2017

I had an epiphany. On the toilet. For some reason, the gods of enlightenment prefer to strike when I’m taking a dump. I think they just like watching me try to scribble manifestos out on toilet-paper. At least it’s two-ply.

So I’m sitting there—squatting there actually (Squatty Potty FTW). Part of me is thinking about how to best console my wife, who is upset about not going to the protest, while another part of me is obsessively scrolling the Facebook feed, clicking article after article reporting the same things in slightly different ways, and reading comment after comment saying the same things in slightly different ways.

Then, suddenly, I enter a zen-like trance where, to the comforting drone of a bath fan, I find clarity. I leave my body and look down upon myself, perched naked on the throne, hunched over the Kindle Fire, scrolling and flicking, liking and clicking. At that exact moment I see things as they are. And slightly after that exact moment the disembodied me slaps the bodied me in the back of the head and says, “What the fuck are you doing?”

I’ll tell you what I was doing. I was doing exactly what Donald Trump and the media want me to be doing. We all are.

* * *

Gapers’ Delay is defined as a traffic jam caused by the people who slow down to look at an accident on the other side of the road. It’s easy to identify. Oncoming traffic is light and sometimes peters out completely while your side is all jammed brakes and honked horns. Then, off on the horizon, you see the emergency lights and you know. Your fate is now in the hands of a commuter horde of fucking rubberneckers.

Seriously, you think, what is so hard to understand here? Can’t we all just agree to not gawk out the window while idling past an accident? You steel yourself, resolving to take a stand and drive past without looking. Yep. That is exactly what you will do—or not do, to be more exact. You get closer.

What’s that, though? A second fire engine? Oh wow, you think, there are four ambulances up there. Stop it! Just drive by. All you have to do is drive by. But is that a stretcher? It is. Don’t look. Don’t look! Here we go. You’re pulling up next to it. Don’t… God dammit…

You looked.

* * *

Donald Trump is a car accident. He can’t help it. Sure, he probably doesn’t have to tap dance naked on top of a flaming Winnebago but at least we know what he is—an attention-seeking wreck.

The media are the first responders—the cops, the paramedics—and first responders respond to wrecks. That is their job. Sure, they probably don’t have to flash all the circus lights and sirens…or accept payment for every commuter head that turns. But at least we know what they are—money-grubbing barkers.

And we are the drivers. We are in control of where we’re going, and what we look at along the way. If we’re sick of the traffic jams we have to exercise collective self restraint. We can’t gape at every minor fender bender we come across.

The media could step up and display some social responsibility but I wouldn’t hold my breath. No amount of mock indignation can change the fact they are cashing in on this national freak show. If, for some odd reason, they are willing to sacrifice some profit though, I’ve got a couple ideas.

Stop giving the microphone to liars. Let Conway spout her alternative facts in the shower, not the national stage. Don’t dispute Breitbart claims, just ignore them, and certainly don’t link to them. You know what the White House press secretary is without the press? A fucking secretary! And, for the love of God, let Trump’s 140 characterless characters live and die on Twitter!

For the rest of us, I propose the following Pledge of Inaction:

I ______________________ do solemnly swear, to:

  1. Not obsessively scroll the Facebook feed, because every flick of my finger shows my monetary support for all the shit I’m scrolling past.

  2. Not ‘take a stand’ by commenting on articles or, worse yet, commenting on comments, because every moment I spend doing that creates free content to further line the pockets of assholes.

  3. Not slow down to gape at accidents.

  4. Not not vote enablers out of office on November 8th, 2018.

There’s something more important than any of this though. Something that transcends politics and the media. Something greater than free will, self control, and abstinence pledges. The one message I hope you can take away from all of this is: When you use the bathroom, don’t leave just one sheet of toilet paper on the roll. Who does that??

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