If you’re an engineer, creep is the slow, permanent deformation of a body resulting from the continued application of heat or stress. If you’re a regular human, it might signify stealthy movement, or perhaps a detestable person. To a select few, Creep is a song from Radiohead’s Pablo Honey album. The fact that a creep can creep while listening to Creep is one of the many delights of the English language.
The detestable thing about stealthy movement, aka creep, is that it often ends badly. As we learned from the classic boiled frog parable, we are wired to detect sudden large changes, but often miss the accumulated effect of many small ones. Twenty years ago, Dick Carlson warned Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, overlooking how the big stuff actually gets big to begin with.
My wife and I used to enjoy a Sunday brunch buffet at a rooftop restaurant along the California coast where the outer ring of tables rotated once every hour. I suspect that the rate was carefully chosen so as to avoid motion sickness (not a good thing in a restaurant), and yet still offer a pleasantly shifting view of the coastline. Both the food and the panorama were wonderful, but it was a bit unsettling to go for seconds only to find that the omelet station had moved.