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The Turtle in the Slot Macine

Posted by Ryan Morgan on December 02, 2014 at 10:05 AM

All my life, I have had a quiet, personal hobby. I like to mentally step out of a situation and observe people’s interactions. Like Dr. Jane Goodall, I am carefully examining body language and dissecting the actual words people are choosing.  Thanks to years of therapy and reading more personal development books than I can count, I was told it was a type of survival mode. I was actually developing a common-sense alert system against mentally unhealthy people and situations.

Let me explain. The reason we (humans) experience trauma is because, instead of the normal, expected response to a situation or statement, something happens so sudden and far outside the realm of what we expect. I call it “The turtle in the slot machine”.

Imagine you are in Las Vegas. You walk into a casino and find a slot machine. The lights, moving parts, sounds and colors all look exactly like you would expect. You put in a quarter and pull the lever. Everything moves, blinks, and plays like it should. Then you hear the winning bell. (How Pavlovian is that?!) And instead of the machine spitting out your winning coinage in the slot at the bottom, out comes… a turtle?

Why do I tell you this? Because I am frustrated with the fact that we even have to have a fight, political or otherwise, to establish mores in our society that a normal, reasonable, and intelligent human being would expect in “the land of the free”. This is the reason my facebook profile picture is of this woman:

Why are we (TellThemSC and the myriad of other activists and organizations) having to fight for years, and even decades to properly inform young people about how their body works?

Why did millions of people have to fight for the right to marry, even though heterosexual marriage is so sacred it is now a TV game-show?

Why do women have to fight to get basic access to healthcare simply because it relates to that “mysterious devil-box hidden in their bloomers”?

Even on a day like today, there is rioting, looting, and fire-bombing in Ferguson, MO. Regardless of my opinion on the legal decisions, I understand why people are so angry. Every citizen is told to expect certain things from this country, and we just keep getting… turtles. And we are confused.

So this holiday season, I have a request for you. Educate yourself about where you come from. Talk to every relative you can from every generation before you about what they saw growing up. I am still so sad that at 10 years old, I did not eves-drop more when my grandfather took 2 hours to tell my mother/his daughter every detail about how he was captured and tortured by the Nazis… and escaped. I am so sad I never asked my sassy great-grandmother how it felt to get the right to vote at 22 years of age.

I understand to the core of my being why men like Senator Mike Fair block our progress. I keep hearing the phrase, “They are scared of losing ‘their piece of the pie’”. In reality, I just want to be free to bake whatever dessert I want for me and me alone.

I know you still have a bunch of turtles to throw at us. I know we are going to make a big repair to our broken “slot machine” during the upcoming congressional session. If you are still worried, I will even bake you a pie that you can keep all for yourself. I really like Minny’s recipe from “The Help”.

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