Empathy Test

Holden: You’re in a desert, walking along in the sand when all of the sudden-
Leon: Is this the test now?
Holden: Yes. You’re in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down-
Leon: What one?
Holden: What?
Leon: What desert?
Holden: It doesn’t make any difference what desert, it’s completely hypothetical.
Leon: But how come I’d be there?
Holden: Maybe you’re fed up, maybe you want to be by yourself, who knows? You look down and you see a tortoise, Leon, it’s crawling towards you-
Leon: Tortoise, what’s that?
Holden: Know what a turtle is?
Leon: Of course.
Holden: Same thing.
Leon: I’ve never seen a turtle — But I understand what you mean.
Holden: You reach down, you flip the tortoise over on its back Leon.
Leon: Do you make up these questions, Mr. Holden, or do they write them down for you?
Holden: The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun beating its legs trying to turn itself over but it can’t, not without your help, but you’re not helping.
Leon: What do you mean I’m not helping?
Holden: I mean, you’re not helping. Why is that Leon? — They’re just questions, Leon. In answer to your query, they’re written down for me. It’s a test, designed to provoke an emotional response. —

-Blade Runner

As I was lying in the bathtub reading an old astrology book, I noticed one of those small, harmless beetles crawling up the wall near the faucet… you know, the kind you often find on the carpet, and you think it might be a roach but upon closer inspection it’s too slow and bulky. Anyway, some water droplets had splashed around that area of the shower, and as a result the beetle slipped and landed on his back, his legs motioning helplessly in the air. I watched him for a few moments knowing he would not be able to turn over on his own and would surely die without my assistance. Being a person with narcissistic tendencies, I have been known to lack empathy in situations far more emotionally provocative than this, but not the guilt that goes along with being conscious of one’s lacking of said characteristic. Not wanting to touch a bug, I grabbed my toenail clippers and carefully maneuvered the handle in a way that gently flipped him back on his feet. He immediately resumed his trek up the wall and….. continued to fall repeatedly, landing on his back again several times. In each instance I helped him turn over right side up, but once I used a bit too much force and almost crushed the poor guy. All I could think was that this whole ordeal was probably futile, as soon I would be taking a full blown shower with the resulting blast of water likely to wipe him out like the lost city of Atlantis. Fast forward a few thousand years and twenty minutes later, he somehow emerged from the shower completely unscathed. I noticed today, that he was gone. Wherever that little beetle was headed, I hope he got there all right.

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