Thursday, October 30, 2008

Creep back

Those of you who read military history may recognize the term creepback. To my surprise, it’s actually available online, in Wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creepback

Creepback was what happened when a stream of bombers attacked a target during World War II. The first bomber dropped a colored marker, usually red or green, that was meant to be the target for each successive bomber. But the later bombers would be flying in, looking at the destruction, and anxious to turn for home. So they’d tend to let their bombs go just a little before the plane before. The result: A line of destruction that “crept back” along the track of the incoming bombers.

Creepback was a particular problem for the Royal Air Force, who primarily attacked at night with long streams of bombers – over 1,000 planes at times - that took thirty minutes to an hour to pass over the target area. Creepback caused the bombs to scatter over a track several miles long during the run-in to a target.

What made me think of that, you ask?

I will tell you.

I was at an event today, when I decided to visit the men’s room. It was a large, crowded event, and the men’s room was crowded too. There was a long line between me and the facility’s two urinals. Being good citizens in a respectable place, the other would-be-urinators just stood there, waiting their turns. I did too, and being as I am, I paid close attention to what was happening.

I began to sense the creep back while I was still five people away from taking my turn. Finally, it was time. I approached the urinal from where I’d been waiting, a polite ten feet back. As I approached, I looked to my feet as it’s always wise to see where you are stepping in an environment like that. I was brought to a stop two feet from the urinal by the spreading puddle on the floor.

Unfazed by the prevailing floor conditions, I proceeded to use the facilities from the safe distance of twenty six inches, and I was able to step back a moment later with clean shoes. It's times like that when I am thankful for the advantage of height. As the next fellow stepped up to take my place, he did the same thing, but he stopped a little further back. Intrigued, I waited for two more people under the guise of washing my hands, and in a moment, they were commencing discharge a full three feet from the urinal.

I realized I was witnessing the same phenomena that caused the early bombers to hit the center of Berlin and later bombers to hit distant suburb like Grunewald or Spandau. It was obvious that today’s late urinators would not even have a hope of hitting the target urinals due to creepback.

That’s despite the fact that the urinals were all properly marked and plainly visible on the walls. They were not obscured by smoke or cloud cover, nor were they defended by antiaircraft guns. When that happened in the Second World War, bomber pilots chose alternate targets. And that’s what happened in the men’s room today, as I circled back through the sinks.

The closer creepback took the stream to the floor drain, the more inviting the drain looked. The scene around the toilet was already one of total destruction. I exited the washroom as a new group of urinators orbited the drain, trying to keep their feet dry.

Today’s air forces have better technology, and they’ve all but eliminated creepback. Bombs are actually guided all the way to the ground in many cases. Creepback lives on, though, in any crowded mens room. Visit any professional sporting event or overcrowded night club, and you’ll see it in action.

I've observed this same situation many times before, but it was only today that I was struck with the proper term for it. And now you know, too.

9 comments:

Maddy said...

Good grief! Well observed [from a distance] I am so glad I am female. I am so glad that my sons are still young enough to 'pass' in the women's restroom.
Cheers

Strange Behaviour said...

In light of your observations; I think you would be astonished to see what goes on in the ladie's room!

"Creepback" is defined a bit differently in there. I'll spare you the horrific details, but I'll leave you with this: There IS a reason we go in groups!

Interesting anthropological observations John Elder!

Kim Stagliano said...

Oh John!!!! I have images in my mind that will surely make me blush when I see you next time! "Height" advantage.. Ahem. You are simply TOO MUCH. Just be grateful it wasn't a "Crapback...."

;) WOOF!

The Girl from the Ghetto said...

Hmmm, what a strange sight that would have been! I'm glad I'm a woman, and that I get to pee in private!

BTW, I kind of hate that non-blogger people can't leave comments on your page. I closed down my blogger account, but it allows me to comment here.

http://www.thegirlfromtheghetto.wordpress.com

Polly Kahl said...

Oh lordy, thanks for the visuals. Of course men had to stand a couple of centuries ago, but frankly it would save a lot of slovenly hassle if today they just sat down (and I hear that a lot of them do...they just won't cop to it.) It's all just one big unnecessary macho mess.

Jan said...

hey john - thanks for sharing. I am so glad that there is now a word for it- did you update the wikipedia sight? Naming things certainly does make them so much more real. BTW, can you write your name?

Michelle O'Neil said...

So funny. I feel for you men, I really do, but the line to the women's room is always longer.

One of us will have to do a blog post on the hover-pee.

Kim Stagliano said...

My Gianna knows the public toilet drill, "DON'T SIT DOWN!" And she can flush with her foot. Oh yes. That's the real reason women have to do squats - to stay in shape for public bathroom outings - WHILE hanging onto the door lock and tending to three children crowding around you at least one of whom is DYING to know what's in the that little metal box lined with a brown bag hanging on the wall, in my case.

kyra said...

that is a RIOT!

how are YOU?

as to creepback in the women's room, i'm afraid it doesn't exist, despite 'strange behaviour's' comment. we have an entirely different phenomenon called splatter shot from many inches on high. it's equally messy but i've never known anyone who could hover from over a foot let alone three!