A couple of years ago, I found a unique item tucked away in my Christmas stocking amidst the socks, flashlight and accompanying batteries, chocolate bars and fruit (fruit? What's that for?). It was a small book — "The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook."
A quick study of this book — written by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht — found it to be exactly what its title indicates. It’s a book that details how to survive under numerous perilous scenarios. Things like “How to escape from quicksand” and “How to survive a poisonous snake attack” and “How to jump from a building into a dumpster” and “How to treat a bullet or knife wound.”
What I found when reading the handbook was that I was extremely ill-prepared for any type of emergency that would require me to live. In each scenario the book gave, my survival instincts would have gotten me killed, according to the expert recommendations.
For example, below I will present some of the scenarios from the book, how the book recommends handling each situation, and what my instinctual reaction would be.
How to escape from a bear
The book says: Lie still and quiet. Stay where you are and do not climb a tree to escape (bears are great tree-climbers). If you are still and the bear still attacks, strike back with anything you can.
I would: First, soil myself. Then, I would turn and run as fast as I could in the other direction, screaming for my mommy to save me.
I question who came up with this advice. Wouldn't it be easier for the bears to eat you if you lie still and quiet? If you were a bear (I'm assuming you're not), wouldn't you advise potential victims to lie still, don't move, and perhaps, pour honey on your head? I would — if I were a hungry bear (which I'm not; a bear, that is. I am hungry.)
How to survive if your parachute fails to open
The book says: As soon as you realize your chute won’t open, signal to your jumping companion and hook arms with them. It doesn’t say what to do if you have no jumping companion (A rather important omission, methinks).
I would: First, soil myself. Then, I would wonder who forced me to jump out of an airplane, since that is not something I would ever do voluntarily. If the guilty party was my “jumping companion,” I would maneuver over to them, kick them in the face and take their parachute. If the person responsible wasn’t with me, but rather somewhere safe on the ground, I would position myself so that I fell directly on top of them.
How to survive adrift at sea
The book says: Try to stay warm and find food. If you see a boat or plane, try to signal them. Try to get to land.
I would: Not soil myself. If someone else was with me, I would say: “Hey, look over there. It’s the Love Boat.” When they looked, I would kick them in the face, then I would eat them. If no one else was with me, then I would soil myself.
How to win a sword fight
The book says: Deflect and counter blows. Make steady, quick blows up and down, then left and right. Do not raise the sword behind your head to try a huge blow. Wait for your attacker to make a mistake.
I would: First, wonder where I got a sword. I haven’t been in a sword fight in ages. Then, I would say, “Hey, look over there. Is that Catherine Zeta-Jones?” When they looked, I would grab a beer bottle and throw it at their head, then I would eat them.
If there was no beer bottle around to defend myself, then I would soil myself.
So, as you can see, without this handy handbook, I would be unlikely to withstand any type of treacherous circumstance. That’s why, for the rest of my life, I resolve to avoid all quicksand, venomous snakes, dumpsters, bullets, bears, parachutes, sinking ships and sword fights (which will be difficult to dodge).
Methinks, the best way to survive worst-case scenarios is to duck them. And, perhaps more importantly, doing so will keep your pants clean.
Len Robbins is the editor of the Clinch County News.