an old man and a sprinkler

I was thinking of doing this for long, salvaging my old posts from my earlier blogs into an “Archive Hour” category. It always fascinates me to see changes in my own writing (style, content and what not) over time and this probably is one way of experiencing those changes…When I moved servers along with my move from Canada to the UK, I did prepare a backup of my old blog so that I could import those in my new blog. Somehow I managed to lose that backup in transit πŸ™ . So, instead of being able to rely on automation, I have to manually enter everything now (well, those posts that have a text backup!). I just don’t have time and patience to do that, which is why I decided to create this “archive hour” category (influenced by a BBC R4 programme by that name I must admit πŸ™‚ ). I’ll be posting few selected posts from my old blogs now and then under this category. The first one is a story of an old man and a badly set sprinkler. Enjoy!

An Old Man and a Sprinkler
Originally posted on 14 August 2005 19:45 PST

He was walking along the footpath – an old man tapping his walking stick deliberately, to let others know of his existence. Just in front of an apartment building, he came to a halt, he had to. The footpath ahead was wet. A sprinkler was wetting the front lawn of the building. It was a swinging one, sprinkling water this way and that. And, one way seemed to be the footpath, just in front of the building, on which he had to walk to get to the corner-shop less than a hundred metres ahead. He stopped looking at the sprinkler move this way and that – one way to the lawn, the other on the footpath. He studied the movement for a while, to make sure he got the timing right to cross the wet footpath ahead, and dodge the water coming out of the sprinkler. After a couple of minutes or so of studying the sprinkler-movement, he decided to cross the wet section of the footpath and hurried along. It was very uncharacteristic of him to not even tap the walking stick that hard while crossing that wet-region. He just walked, it was actually half way between walking and running – you know how those athletes walk in the 5km or 10km walking competitions in the Olympic? It was just like that, his walk! Well, he made it to the other end without getting wet.

As soon as he reached the other side of the wet footpath, he stopped and turned to have a look at the sprinkler again. He was already thinking about the moment he would have to dodge this thing again while returning from the corner-shop. He was much more serious, even somewhat agitated. He looked all around the building to see if there was anybody around. He wanted to tell them off for not setting up their sprinkler properly. He waited for a bit, looking around for someone, anyone who inhabited that building, of course to no avail. He decided to take the matter into his own hands. He would himself set that sprinkler properly, and show them how it should be done. He moved forward, clutching his stick on one hand. Suddenly, the sprinkler swung towards the footpath – since he was approaching it from the same direction, he had to step back to dodge the water. He backed off, went to the same point on the footpath just outside the coverage of the sprinkler. He waited for it to swing the other way and then walked towards it again. But before he could get near, it started to swing his way, and he had to back off again. This action repeated a couple more times, but at the end he just couldn’t get near the sprinkle, let alone change its setting.

He had no way of approaching the sprinkler from any other direction either – on one side of the sprinkler, there was a thorny shrub (part of the lawn “garden”), while on the other side, there was a driveway that went into the underground car-park and hence a metre or so below the lawn. He knew it would be very difficult for him to try and climb up that metre-height to get to the lawn from that driveway. He wished he had carried an umbrella instead of the walking stick this morning – he could have approached the sprinkler “from the front” without having to worry about getting wet. That would have been quite a confrontation, he thought. He thought how could people act such irresponsibly, not setting up their sprinkler properly and letting it wet the footpath where old people like him had to walk along every now and then. If somebody like him slips on the wet footpath and gets hurt, will those people who set that sprinkler take responsibility? He was sure they wouldn’t care a bit. Otherwise they would have set it up properly in the first place. Now, he doesn’t even have the power to change the setting himself and make right of those peoples’ wrong. He felt sad, but powerless to do anything, he decided to go to the corner-shop first and think about the issue later. After getting a pint of milk and the morning’s paper, he decided to walk back home the other way – a bit longer but at least safer. Out of reach of that sprinkler!!