DLand - That Second Goddamn Rat

Bossman and I are in the kitchen just now, rooting through our new box of Lindt chocolates. One in particular is the Lindor XXO Heart chocolate. "Rich, dark chocolate filled with a soft melting white Lindor center, carved with a message of love." Bossman: "Mmm. XXO Heart. Wonder if that's like an XXX Heart."

Me: "Carved with a message of love?"

Bossman: "They don't put those chocolates in the variety box. They keep those behind the counter."

Me: "Do they still have the soft creamy filling?"

The network connection to our office has been going up and down all morning. Supposedly they are replacing a firewall server somewhere and it's not going well. But we can only sit here and wait for it to get fixed. Meanwhile, I have to try to provide technical support with no internet connection. It's downright infuriating. Everytime I ping a server and get timed out, my blood starts pumping and I shake my fists at the monitor.

My father tells this story. Ok, Daddy tells lots of stories. But he tells one story in particular about two rats. I actually saw a French film once that alluded to this same concept but I can't remember the name of it. All I remember is businessmen with giant rat head costumes. But I digress.

There is an experiment in which two rats are placed in little rat cubes - one in each cube. The scientists then give each rat a mild electric shock over and over again. One rat has a button that will stop the shocks for X amount of minutes for both cubes. That rat figures out pretty quickly that if he hits the button, the shocks stop for a while. The other rat just sits in his cube and takes it.

So after a while they take out the two rats. The rat with the button is absolutely fine. He's probably a little grumpy, but physically he shows no ill effects of the electric shock experience. The second rat (without the button) is a wreck. His hair has fallen out, he's got ulcers, heart palpitations, tumors, twitches, you name it - he's got it. He received the exact same amount of shock as the first rat. But he had no button. Invariably this story comes up with my father and he ends it with "and I feel like that second goddamn rat."

I think about those rats a lot. That you can take a lot of stress or unpleasantness if you feel like you have at least a little control over it. You can't solve the problem, but you can do something. You have a button, for lack of a better term. And in the same vein, if you have no button, no way of affecting your situation, you're suddenly "that second goddamn rat." The unpleasantness is magnified by your own inability to make a difference.

So I'm trying to find myself some buttons. Easier said than done at times.