In 2008, my ex-wife and I moved into our first marital home. It was a single bedroom villa in a run-down compound on the outskirts of Jeddah. It was old and small, but it had a garden and it had soul, which was all we thought we needed back then.

And it had Linda The Ant.

We discovered (and named) Linda during our first week in the house. She was one of those big soldier ants, and we decided we wouldn’t kill her. We would allow her to pass through in peace.

The thing we loved the most was that ours was a single-ant household. Never did Linda bring in any friends or invite her insect guests to our house.

Months passed. Linda coexisted with us peacefully and watched our marriage take shape. She didn’t get in our way and we made sure not to step on her.

Photo by Nandhu Kumar from Pexels

One weekend morning, I went about doing some maintenance around the house. A light bulb needed changing on a floor lamp. I was one of those standard IKEA lamps with a circular base and an upward facing cone at the top.

I tilted the lamp toward me so I could unscrew the light bulb, then I noticed them.

The cone was filled with dead soldier ants. Maybe 12 or 13 of them, dry and dusty from months of sitting there.

That’s when I realized what happened. We had fallen victims to one of the most sophisticated con artist schemes ever.

It seems that over the months, there had been many “Lindas”. The ants in our house had learned that a single ant was left unharmed, and they concluded they would be safe so long as only one ant was out at any given time.

For months they hid, sending one of their own out into the house to bring back the food.

And whenever a “Linda” didn’t return, having fallen victim to the lamp cone, the ants would simply send out another “Linda”.

If you ever have any doubt about your ability to make a difference, please remind yourself that two adult human beings were once defeated by a group of insects acting in unison.

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