Don’t be a FLY! ..or a WALLEYE!

I once worked at a hotel with a poolside bar where I noticed all of these plastic bags half-full of water hanging overhead. They were all around the perimeter and spaced about two feet apart.

“What in the heck are those for?” I asked the bartender.

“Oh, they keep the flies away,” he said.

“How do they do THAT?”

“The flies see with hundreds of little lenses in their eyes as they fly around,” he explained. “The optics of the light that passes through the water in the plastic bags somehow throws off their perception and confuses them.”

It must be effective because I never saw a fly at the poolside bar, but I always thought it was because the prices were too high for critters who basically eat shit all day.

“Stupid flies! Don’t you know it’s just a trick? It’s not in your way and it’s not going to hurt you and you can’t drown in it because it’s sealed up in plastic bags! It’s just a con! You’re being SCAMMED!”

I would have said this to the flies directly but the plastic water bags are so effective there weren’t any out there. I’m sure that if I tracked some flies down in an area with no plastic bags of water, they probably wouldn’t know what I was talking about, so they’d just land on me and vomit.

This reminded me of a study I heard about years ago, where they (presumably fish scientists) put this walleye (that’s a fish) into a tank that had a glass wall dividing it in half.

Three hungry walleyes / Graphic by Timothy Knepp

They put another little fish, a minnow, which is what walleyes like to eat, into the other half and, as the walleye would go after the little minnow, it’d smack into the glass wall with a big cartoon “BOINNNNGGGG!” and suffer aggravating humiliation as the cruel fish scientists would point, laugh and make fun of the poor walleye.

This went on for some time, like, days or weeks or months or something, until finally the poor, humiliated walleye had enough of being treated so terribly just because it was hungry and all it wanted was dinner, so it gave up.

It stopped going after the little minnow, much to the little minnow’s relief, I’m sure. So, do you know what happened next?

I’m sure you do, being the smart, savvy, readers that you are!

The fish scientists removed the glass and the walleye swam around the little minnow without bothering it. It did this continually until it eventually died of starvation.

“Stupid Walleye! Don’t you see that they took the glass OUT! You could eat the little minnow after the glass was GONE! It was all a TRICK! You were SCAMMED!”

I don’t think this would really be any kind of decent story at all if I didn’t attempt to use our friend the fly and our friend the walleye as examples of how we can be blinded to opportunity and finding success that’s right in front of us because of something that’s holding us back.

It’s probably something that we can’t see because it’s made of glass, and they — presumably God, the Devil or The House of Representatives, or someone — took the glass out long ago, but we are so used to the glass being there that we’d rather starve to death than eat our little minnow because we don’t want to endure humiliation again.

OR, we have these HUGE bags half full of water hanging all around us, and even though it’s just WATER, and it won’t HURT us, and it just HANGS there, we avoid it because it’s confusing and scary.

I say fly right in there, and land on the plate of half-eaten nachos! INDULGE YOURSELF! You only live for, like, two days! And EAT THE LITTLE MINNOW, despite what’s happened in the past and how many headaches you have from bumping into that damned glass! JUST DO IT ALREADY, because, guess what?


Life’s little lessons are all around us, my friends. In fish, in insects, and in nature itself, and you don’t have to work for a hotel with an outdoor pool bar or become a fish scientist to observe, learn and apply.

“Carpe Diem Carp,” friends. Seize the daily fish.

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on

Fly photo by Nixon Johnson on

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