Worst-Case Scenario

May 4th, 2013. Filed under: Reruns.
First posted April 10th, 2008

I’ve been traveling through the Worst-case Scenario Survival Handbook: Travel by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht. Oh, my gosh!  A disclaimer at the very beginning tells us not to attempt to undertake any of the advice offered therein.  What to do?  Consult a professionally trained expert.  I’m sure I’m going to remember that when I’m out in the middle of some desert trying to control a runaway camel. (Hold onto the reins, but do not pull back.  Pull hard to the side so that the camel will run in a circle.  When he gets tired and sits down, jump off.) Why was this book written?  I guess so people like me will buy the book before reading the disclaimer (not that I’m sure I ever want to be in any of these very interesting situations).

The section on how to stop a runaway passenger train is interesting.  Essentially, you locate the emergency brake and pull the handle.  Of course, there’s a possibility of that act causing a train derailment.  I’m sure that somewhere in this handy, dandy little book is a section that tells what to do in case of a train derailment.  I couldn’t find that section, but on page 73, it tells how to jump from a moving train.  I guess you’d better jump fast and wide before it stops moving and falls over on you.  Or maybe, if you think and act quickly enough, you can jump from the side away from the fall.  Do you really have all that much notice before a train derails?  None of the trains I’ve been on have derailed.

It must be safer to travel by plane.  Oops.  Here’s a section on how to crash land a plane on water.  The first thing you do is take your place at the controls (if you can get past security and the barricaded door to the cockpit), put on the radio headset and call for help.  Can’t you just hear that helppppppp as you’re making a nosedive towards the water? Then it starts to get technical.  Forget that, baby.  Put on your life-jacket, open the door and jump before your big bird makes a big splash.

Maybe you prefer to travel more sedately.  Even a car is not all that safe.  Not only can you have a runaway camel or a runaway train, you can also have a runaway car.  How do you stop a car with no brakes?  The first thing this book tells you to do is pump the brakes.  What brakes?  I thought the car had no brakes.  Oh, I see.  You might be able to build up enough pressure in the braking system to slow the thing down a bit.  My car is careening out of control, my leg feels like it’s going to fall off from pumping the brakes that aren’t there and the next thing you tell me is “Do not panic.”  Yeah, sure.  I darned well will panic unless I’ve figured out how to get out of the seat belt/shoulder harness contraption, get the door unlocked and jump from a moving car!

Another bit of advice is to pull the emergency brake – but not too hard.  That is, unless you’re running out of room and need to try a “bootlegger’s turn.”  Then you have to “yank the emergency brake hard” while making a quarter turn to whichever way is safer.  Hurry, choose between the cliff edge on your right or the traffic speeding towards you on your left.  If you’re running out of room because that Sunday driver in front of you is blissfully unaware that you are coming up behind him like a speeding bullet, you can try to get his attention by honking or flashing your lights.  If it’s some little old man that’s been driving along with his turn signal blinking for the last 30 minutes, I don’t think you’ll be able to get his attention.  Just run into him and that will slow you down.  If there’s no car in front of you, look for something to help stop you.  Maybe there will be a cow in the middle of the road, or a herd of goats crossing to the other side.  Step 10 and last in the advice regarding runaway cars is “If none of the above steps has enabled you to stop and you are about to go over a cliff, try to hit something that will slow you down before you go over.”  There it is.  I see something I can hit before I go over the cliff.  It’s the guardrail.  Oh, crap!  There’s a big hole there where the last car hit it while driving over the cliff.

Okay, I’ve found something that has to be safer.  A horse!  Only they also have a tendency to run away.  If you’re old enough, you’ve seen a few westerns.  There’s at least one runaway involved, usually a stagecoach or a lady driving a horse and wagon.  I don’t know what you’re supposed to do if you’re in one of those, so just saddle up and ride the animal.  Then when he decides to runaway, just hold on tight to the saddle with your hands and thighs.  I wonder why I’m not supposed to hold onto the reins and try to rein in the beast.  Read further, Nancy.  Read further.  Oh, I do get to hold onto the reins, but with only one hand so I can get a death grip on the saddle horn with the other.  If for some reason you got crazy and decided to ride bareback, don’t waste your time trying to find a saddle horn to grab.  Grab the horse’s mane.  Now alternately tug and release the reins with a medium pressure.  I know you’re in the middle of a good panic, but don’t wimp out and not pull hard enough.  Definitely do not pull too hard.  You could cause the horse to stumble or lose his balance.  You have to know what’s coming next.  That sucker is going to fall over and you’re not going to have time to get your foot loose and figure out how to jump from a moving horse without doing a great deal of damage to yourself.  And if you can’t figure that out and execute the maneuver in a couple seconds, you’re going to end up with a large beast falling on top of you.  I don’t even want to think about those sound effects.  Of course, you can do what you would do if you were on your runaway camel.  Pull the reins to one side so the horse will go in a circle.  When he starts to either slow down or get dizzy and stagger, dismount immediately and get the heck out of Dodge!

I’ve been thinking about going to Miami to visit my friend, Sue.  I wonder how long it would take to walk there.

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