C. Meton

The Pedestrian and the Worm

One day, a man was walking along a concrete walk when he came upon a worm that was squirming its way across the walk.  "I'd better stand here for a moment to protect this worm lest other passers-by step on it," he thought.  So he stood by as the worm made its slow progress across the walk.  The man noticed that the worm's skin was becoming dry.  Little bits of detritus and dried leaf fragments were sticking to it, probably making it uncomfortable.

The worm came upon a small seed case of some kind that had fallen from a nearby tree.  For several seconds, or perhaps a minute, the worm worried at the seed case as if expecting it to be a shelter.  The worm pushed and the case moved.  The worm pushed and the case moved.  The worm pushed and the case moved.  Making very little progress, the worm backed off from the seed case and began to squirm its way again across the walk.  Over the space of about a minute, the worm had progressed one full length of its body.  But then the worm turned and started to progress along the walk instead of across the walk.

"This can not be allowed," thought the man, "The worm will never make it to safety in the grass beside the walk if it continues to move parallel to the walk and almost in the middle of the walkway where it can be stepped upon."  The man moved his foot to gently nudge the worm so as to prompt it to change its direction back to a perpendicular path with respect to the walk.  The worm recoiled and played dead.  "This too is not acceptable," thought the man. "If the worm remains on the walk, it will be stepped upon by some passer-by."

Taking a long, pine needle from the grassy area next to the walk, the man gently slid the needle under the worm and flipped it toward the grassy area.  The worm fell from the pine needle and only moved a few inches.  The man repeated this process until the worm was safely in the grass, then stood for a few more moments, watching the worm.

Satisfied now that the worm would be safe, the man continued on his way.  After he had walked several feet, he looked back at the place where he had encountered the worm.  As he watched, a small bird swooped down, grabbed the worm in its beak, and flew away.




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