OBLIVION WORKS

A word about walking unwittingly into a swarm of bees while listening to an engaging podcast amidst a raging pandemic in a public park and not getting stung. 

Yep, it happened. 

Actively defending against bees is like jumping at the sight of snakes or spiders. It is an emotional response, not an intellectual one. Unless you are allergic to bee stings. Then it’s both. 

But when you tell people not to shoo away bees, because that only increases the odds of getting stung, they still have a strong tendency to do it just the same out of pure instinct. 

This is where experience or unwitting oblivion comes into play.

Just like it is easier to walk through the shallow end of the pool than it is to run through it (drag coefficient, and all that), but you don’t realize that until you’ve tried it, unless you’ve experienced ignoring bees and found that they tend to ignore you, too, you will continue trying to encourage them away instead. 

I recall an animal control officer in Boston telling me one time not to freak out about bats that would occasionally fly into my fourth-floor apartment after I had left the porch door open in the muggy, summer night air. 

“Just wave your arms,“ she instructed me, suggesting that in the case of bats, shooing does work. “Since they use radar, they’ll avoid that movement.” 

And that was all fine advice until she said, “but if one does land on you, don’t try to flick it off because that’s when people generally get bitten.“ 

Well, there was no chance that ever happening since I wasn’t going to be in the apartment long enough for any such landing, flicking, or biting to occur. 

And my apartment in Boston had a large living room as I had turned three rooms into one room by knocking out several walls and ceilings (without telling the landlord, but that’s another story altogether).  In any case, I had opened the space into a sizable flying environment. 

So when I noticed a dark presence darting overhead amidst the 11-foot ceilings, I’d jump up and run toward the kitchen waving my arms instinctively as I fled. 

When a bat flies into an enclosed space and all they got is radar, everything is coming at ’em quick, much faster than they’re used to. They are pinging like a madman looking for a way out, swooping and diving. Inside it’s “Oh, shit! Oh, shit! Oh, shit! Oh, shit! I m trapped! Oh, shit!” as it circles the room looking for a way out.

And in the face of this panic, I’m scuttling away waving my arms overhead also going, “Oh, shit! Oh, shit! Oh, shit! Oh, shit! It’s trapped! Oh, shit!”  

In other words, there were now one too many sentient beings in the room expressing an “Oh, shit!” sentiment, which didn’t suggest a favorable outcome for one of them, or both. 

Accordingly, I would simply abandon the space until the morning when I had a better chance of addressing the issue in the light of my choosing. 

This is all to say that walking with your head down listening to a fine podcast in a public park through a swarm of bees in the time of a great pandemic results in neither species being caught in an “Oh, shit!” moment nor one getting stung.  I might as well have been a tree.

Knock on wood, oblivion works. 

Thank you for your attention.

END

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