I was in the restroom at the Euston British Rail station, needing to primp after all the train-hopping from Canary Wharf.
I dropped my bag on the counter and then dug around for a hairbrush, vaguely aware of a mirrored row of sinks behind the bag. I found the brush, looked up, and saw — nothing.
Well, I saw stalls, and sinks, but my reflection was missing.
That’s how I processed what I saw: I don’t have a reflection.
Which was, of course, ludicrous. I’m not a vampire.
So my brain immediately corrected: This surface isn’t reflecting me. Which seems the same, but is entirely different from a problem solving point of view.
We’re talking about less than a second of time here, and inside that second I started to reach for what I knew about light waves and specular interfaces and I wondered what kind of material could behave so oddly…maybe the surface was just projecting a manipulated digital image…but it’s so clear and why would anyone bother —
— and that’s when the obvious leapt in, and I realized that the restroom was designed with such unbroken bilateral symmetry that I assumed there was a mirror between the two rows of sinks in the middle of the room.
Now here’s the interesting bit, the thing that didn’t occur to me until I wrote this out: the fantasy-oriented explanation for what I took to be weird phenomena was dismissed out of hand in favor of a science fictional explanation. And for a while I thought that revealed something about my unconscious loyalties on the F & SF spectrum.
Then again, the fantasy explanation was the first through the door…so what does that tell me?