I woke up this morning and had this sudden realization that I’ve been alive my whole life and, so far, I haven’t set any records at all. Not even one. I’ve been living this whole life of not pushing the envelope, of so not boldly going where anybody has already gone before. And I started freaking out. But then a voice chimed in my head and said, “Relax Rob, you’ve set plenty of records. Like that time that you held your breath for a minute and forty-five seconds. That was your longest held breath yet!” And my heart slowed down a little bit. Yeah, I’ve set plenty of records. More and more I calmed down and started to go about my day.
But then like ten minutes later a different voice in my head started saying things like, “You can’t really count those as record. They’re personal records. Everybody has personal records. It’s a total cop-out.” And my heart rate started going up again. It’s true. Why was I so easily convinced that personal records counted as anything record-breaking? Because they don’t. I need something to set myself apart from the pack. I need to get myself a real record.
So I went down to the track. I resolved to run a three-minute mile. I’d stay there all day and all night if I had to, but I had this feeling that if I just tried hard enough, I could will my legs to move faster and faster, each step a little faster, just slightly faster until I had the record and I could go home and go to sleep without worrying about waking up the next morning in the grip of a cold panic brought about by the pathetic fact that my life has, thus far, been completely devoid of setting any records whatsoever.
But it didn’t happen. I wasn’t expecting to break the mile record on my first try. I figured I’d have to warm up a little. But my times just kept getting slower and slower until I had absolutely no energy left and I was so thirsty but I didn’t bring anything to drink – I’m such an idiot! – and so I went to the water fountain, the public water fountain right next to the track and I started drinking, but the water pressure was so low that I couldn’t really get enough water in one gulp to really satisfy my pressing need for refreshment. Finally I figured out a way to lean my head to the side so the water would fill up inside one of my cheeks and then I could take a nice, satisfying swallow. By the time I came up for air, there was a huge line of people waiting to use the water fountain, all looking really pissed off. I didn’t get out of the way. Instead, I counted how many people were waiting in line. Was this a record breaking line? Could it be that I had unintentionally set a record? I kept counting and got a number. It had to be a record.
I got home and called up one of those record keeping institutions. I told them about the line at that water fountain, and how maybe we should just have a real quiet record ceremony, because I figured that if we put a plaque down at that water fountain than people would see it and start organizing even bigger lines, and it wouldn’t be fair, it wouldn’t be a natural line of people, just waiting for a drink. And the guy at the other end of the phone got so angry. He started yelling:
“Will you stop calling here! You can’t set records for such stupid stuff! What’s wrong with you? Don’t you have anything better to do? I’ve never in my whole career at this record keeping institution been bothered by somebody about as much nonsense as I have been by you!”
And I said, “Really? Never? So I’m like the record keeper for most idiotic record requests?” And the guy got really quiet for a while and then finally he said, “You know, you’re right! This has got to be a new record! And it’s all official because I’m an official here and I can vouch for it! You’ve done it! Congratulations!”
And that was it. World-record set. No big deal, right? Looks like I can sleep easy tonight.