Adapt or change


In my Soviet elevator of the Brezhnev era, a drop of oil began to fall from the emergency exit in the ceiling. The persistent drizzle does not clash with the technical condition of the elevator, but rather matches the chipped floor, the obscene graffiti and the horrifying noise the doors make when they open. Several neighbors have ruined their clothes or had their hair oiled by the capricious substance, but the solution we have found is to relinquish the space so that it may fall as it chooses. For the last couple of months, six people can no longer fit in the deteriorating machine because a space must be reserved for the falling grease.

In the same way that we retreat before the capricious drop, we adapt ourselves at the cinema with six beautiful doors, only one of which opens. Conformity leads us to accept that at the end of the film, everyone in the audience must squeeze themselves through a single opening in what was formerly a row of grand doors. Likewise, we have become accustomed to store clerks who treat us badly, to adulterated products, and to services that fail shortly after their introduction.  All this, with the same bovine consent with which we see our civil rights diminished.

To be indolent is fashionable.  For as my neighbors and I have come to believe, the elevator grease is good for growing hair, and the spots that it makes on clothes are the prettiest.  If it waits for action from us – we who can live calmly with the drip of my Soviet elevator – we will let it fall in peace.  Who is going to fall into the absurdity of trying to change things?

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