Parasites, Symbiotes, and Loosies
So on this week’s show, I used the term “parasite-aurant” - to describe the relationship between Pal’s upscale sandwich shop and the humble corner store in which it lives.
Many listeners wrote in explaining that a better term would be “symbiot-aurant.”
As Tyson Read, a listener from Berkeley CA, explains, “…The biological/social relationship of the sandwich man and the corner store owner would be symbiosis, not parasitism. Symbiosis is where both parties benefit, parasitism is where one party benefits at the expense of another, and commensalism is when one party benefits with no harm to the other.”
So, I checked with our ombudsman, Google, and it turns out Tyson and the other listeners who wrote in are right.
In my defense, the last time I took something approximating a science class was back in 11th grade. The course was called Environmental Science, and somehow my lab partner Nick Hatchet and I convinced our teacher that if she let us spend the class period outside, collecting littered beer cans in the woods, we’d be be learning more about the environment than by spending 45 minutes a day watching PBS videos and exchanging notes with Joanne Passareli.
So three days a week we were excused from class, and we’d head into the woods behind the school to collect empty cans. Except instead, we would trawl the leaves looking for “loosies”— full cans of beer abandoned by kids the night before when their drinking parties were busted by the cops. We would carefully hide our booty in a hollowed-out tree, then come back on the weekend to enjoy it. Now some might argue that Nick and I were being parasitic, but I think the proper word to describe our behavior is commensalistic.