Everything I Know About Human Behavior I Learned from Insects

For Chapter 4: "Talk is Cheap"

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Writing a book is hard.

First, there are many facts to gather, which involves much tedious reading and note-taking and talking to strangers on the telephone. Then you have to write down a lot of words. A really lot. And they should be spelled correctly, in approximately the right sequence, not stolen, etc. This book probably has about 80,000 of them, all custom made. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

Sometimes, in fact, the chore of writing gets so overwhelming that a wretched author find himself doing anything, anything to avoid sitting at the keyboard. Bill paying. Door-knob tightening. Even, in extremis, the dishes.

Which I was just dealing with only moments ago when I happened to notice a column of ants, driven indoors by drought conditions, making their way across the countertop and into the sink. There they excitedly clustered around a bit of cheese left on a dirty dinner plate.

Soon I realized there wasn't a column of ants after all. There were two columns: one coming, one going, hundreds of ants in all, making their way between the sink and home. This got me to thinking. I reached for the spray nozzle and aimed it at the side of the sink, where the ants were scaling the 90-degree stainless steel wall. In an instant they were washed down the drain. And a moment after that, the inbound column of ants stopped trying to scale down the wall. In fact, the inbound column turned on its itsy-bitsy little heels and fled.

But I kept vigilant. Sure enough, a few minutes later, after the coast (and drain) had cleared, a few of intrepid insect scouts reconnoitered and made their way into the sink. A few minutes later, traffic in both directions had resumed.

What kind of grotesque infestation may have happened next I'm not prepared at the moment to say, because I rushed right up to my office. Screw the vermin. Screw the dishes. I had just witnessed word of mouth.
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