Friction Fiction

How many times have you depended on Friction and it failed you?  How many times have you been frustrated by Friction?  I submit there ARE NO LAWS of Friction!  It is capricious and mean and actually has evil designs on humanity!

You know what they call fingerprints?  Friction ridges!  Yup.  Humans and in fact all primates have fingerprints.  Why?  So they don’t slide off of tree branches and rocks and ledges and tall buildings.  Do they work?  NO!  If you’re trying to pick up the spoon you just dropped, you will drop it 3 or 4 more times before you have a tough enough grip to get it to the sink.  If you are dangling from a building and the only thing keeping you from falling is some superhero’s grip on your hand, YOU WILL FALL!  They’re superheroes for pity’s sake!  They are certainly strong enough to crush your hand and lift you up and toss you about.  But there you are and they have a moment of regret that the tossing has caused irreparable harm to their image as do-gooders and they try to save you as you go off the building.  Suddenly, they cannot lift you with one arm, and the massive strength in their hands is reduced to butter.  Just once I’d like the villain/victim to yell on the way down, “YOU Sonofabitch!” Splat.

Do you know why there’s tread on tires?  Friction.  Have you ever hydroplaned?  Friction failed.  Traveling home in a rainstorm, only being able to tell where the road is by following the tail lights on the truck ahead of me, and going really slowly, I hydroplaned at least 4 times.  I caught some road just before I slid off and maneuvered back and not five minutes later had to do that again.

Have you ever driven a road you’ve traveled 1000 times and wondered why your car is going sideways?  I remember driving about 15 mph on a highway covered in ice.  It was a flat road (Nebraska!) with no turns, no hills.  Front wheel drive, no wind, and suddenly I’m doing 360’s.  You know that roads are higher in the middle than at the edges?  I started sliding off the side and corrected.  The car continued to go toward the ditch, regardless of the way the wheels were turned.  The brakes stopped the wheels from turning but didn’t stop the car.  The back end of the car came around and I turned into the skid like I learned in driver’s ed.  No effect.  Now, I’m going backwards down the highway at 15 mph.  Now sideways, now forward.  Whew.  Ooops!  Now sideways and backwards and sideways again, but crossing the center line.  Traction!  whoohooo!  Doesn’t matter.  I’m now in a ditch.  Here comes a pickup truck!  He slows down and stops. (Show off!)  He attaches a chain to my car and pulls me out. I continue on the road and finally get to my destination, about 3 hours later than I had planned.  Why was I spinning around and he wasn’t?  Because Friction Doesn’t Like Me!

Getting into my stupid car shouldn’t be an opportunity for friction to get the best of me, but it IS.  I have a long coat.  When I walk or sit, it’s constantly tangling up my feet.  I expect it.  When I get into the car, it DOESN’T stick to my pants like it does every other time I wear it.  NOOOOO.  It falls off my leg and gets caught in the door when it closes.  So I open the door and pull my coat up to catch on my knee and close the door.  Between the time I set my coat and grab the door, it falls back in between the seat and the door AGAIN!

Getting my phone out of my purse should not be an exercise in futility.  BUT IT IS!  I reach in to get my phone and cannot grip it.  My friction ridges are providing no friction.  When I do get my phone out, I have pressed every application I have.  Yes, the phone was locked when I put it into my purse, so in grabbing it, I somehow managed hit the home page, bypass the password, turn on my flashlight (which I find difficult enough to do on purpose) hit youtube.com video that plays a song I’ve never heard of before at an embarrassingly loud volume, startles me, and I drop it back into my purse.  I try in vain to pull my phone out to shut the danged noise off, but once again my friction ridges are providing no friction.  Now that the members of the church are staring at me with consternation, (Oh NOW I recognize it.  “Thong thong thong thong thong…”)  I can finally turn the dam thing off, and I don’t remember why I was getting it out of my purse in the first place.  Phone is off.  Put phone in outer pocket.  It WILL NOT GO IN!  The lack of Friction I experienced in trying to remove it from my purse is now obstinately in place again.  This pocket in my purse is full sized.  There are pens and a bulletin and a name tag in the pocket, yet my phone will not go in all the way.  In fact it only goes in 1/4 of the way and threatens to fall onto the floor.  I curse under my breath.  Oops, I’m in church.  The little boy ahead of me smirks.  My phone catches on something and will not budge.  THERE IS NOTHING FOR IT TO CATCH ON!  Nevertheless, it’s catching on something.  It might be something in an adjacent pocket, so I slide my hand into the pocket to find the obstruction.  There isn’t one, so I try to force the phone into the pocket.  It finally concedes and goes in.  The preacher booms from the pulpit, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord Thy God in vain.”  Oops.

Over and over and over again, we trust friction to keep glasses from sliding off the table.  They slide anyway.  We depend on friction to keep us standing when we open or close doors.  We fall anyway.  We depend on the apparent lack of friction to throw something into the trash. It comes up messily short anyway.  We depend on the low amount of friction when brushing our hair.  It tangles and eats our brushes, combs and barrettes anyway.  We expect the friction to keep our hair in place.  It comes out of our elaborate hairstyles anyway.

There is the Men’s guide for friction…

This won't turn out well. - Imgflip

The Women’s corollary:

If it shouldn’t move, even though it’s duct taped, IT WILL MOVE.

If it should move, even though he’s WD-40’d it, IT WON’T.

In other words, if you depend on Friction to act a certain way, and it is to your advantage for it to work that way, Friction will do exactly the opposite. Fickle Friction!  It is Flighty and Fractious–a Fiendish Fraud–a Foul Effluvia–a Freudian Froth of Fervent and Feverish Foolishness.  Pha I say!  Friction is Fiction played upon us by an evil Fairy bent on our destruction!

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