Sunday, January 17, 2010


The following relates how I was a jerk about Haiti today. Last night, Brian and I attended a Grand Rapids event with beer-tasting and comedians called the "Brew Ha Ha" - isn't that clever? Needless to say, many beers were tasted. And apparently, insufficient water was drunk before going to sleep. I am usually a stickler for drinking water before bed after drinking to stave off hangovers, but I clearly did not drink enough because I woke up really thirsty in the middle of the night. Luckily, I had a bit of water by my bedside as I always do, which I drank, leaving just enough in the bottom to have another sip if I woke up thirsty again. Why? Because I knew I would be too lazy to go downstairs to refill my bottle if I woke up again and was anticipating my laziness. A little psychological trick.

Not long after that, Brian woke up and told me he was so thirsty he was dreaming about drinking water. (I'm telling you, we had drunk a lot of beer.) I have had that happen a few times lately. Dreams about water's so disappointing when you wake up still parched. So, I told him "me too" and I lay there thinking I should really get up and go get water, for both of us. Obviously I was thirsty enough to still be waking up repeatedly. But I was so tired and wanted so badly to go back to sleep. It was like a little war among my thirst, my fatigue, and my laziness. I even thought about whether I should go into the bathroom, right next to the bedroom, so that I wouldn't have to walk all the way downstairs. The fact that I lay awake long enough to ponder all this means my thirst was stronger than my fatigue, but the fact that I didn't even get up to get water from the bathroom sink, let alone the kitchen downstairs, means my laziness was strongest of all. At this point I also couldn't in good conscience drink the remaining sips in my bottle without sharing them with Brian, although there was barely enough to share at all, and I didn't want him to be jealous if I drank, now that I knew he, too, was so thirsty he was dreaming about water so I just didn't drink it. That's right - my laziness was so selfish and misguided that it became self-destructive. There's a lesson in there somewhere. Or several.

Finally, at some point between 8 and 9 a.m., I woke up again. I was now insanely thirsty and not feeling particularly rarin'-to-go, and this time the thirst finally conquered the fatigue and laziness. It did this because I started thinking about how thirsty earthquake victims in Haiti must be right now. Not just the survivors who are out of a home and had to wait for food and water supplies to arrive, but people trapped in the rubble. Damn, I thought to myself, I am lying here whining in my head about how thirsty I am and not doing anything about it, while how many hundreds of people have been lying, trapped, for DAYS, unable to move AT ALL? I started getting really weirded out about how thirsty they must be, with no ability to do anything about it. I told myself to stop being an asshole, and I got out of bed and went downstairs, filling up both my and Brian's half-liter bottles with cold, filtered water.

The Kopinskis' radio was on in the kitchen, like always, tuned to NPR. Of course as I stood there filling the water, it just happened to be a story about searching for survivors in the Port-au-Prince rubble. They were talking about how search dogs alert to the presence of someone, and how the rescuers hear sounds and say "knock three times" and if they then hear three knocks, they know it is a person, alive, and not dripping water or a rat or something else. It was like the universe just bonking me on the head while I filled my cool, refreshing water, repeatedly saying "Jerk, jerk, selfish jerk." Honestly. I brought the water upstairs, so happy I could give it to Brian to quench his thirst, but really disappointed in myself for not doing so at 4 a.m. And just generally appalled at how wonderful and easy my life is.

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