I can’t decide whether or not I will be useful during an apocalypse.
On the one hand, I am very stealthy. I know this because I frequently sneak up on people, unintentionally of course. I can enter the kitchen at work, rinse my cup, make some tea, only to have the person standing at the coffee machine turn around and scream that I’ve scared the shit out of them. It’s gotten so bad that I have taken to walking as heavily as I can, or loudly clearing my throat when I pass or approach someone who has their back turned, just so they have a little extra warning that they are no longer alone.
On the other hand, I have noticed a pattern of non-action occurring during ‘crisis’ situations.
When I was in High School a girl punched me in the face. In response, I blinked at her. Granted, it wasn’t a hard punch but the thing is, I knew it was coming. I knew she was worked up, I knew that the step she took towards me probably meant I should take a step back, but it was too late – my mind had already left my body. I was watching the scene, comfortably from above, a fly on the wall. My body was on its own. I watched her ball her fingers into a fist and swing her arm back in preparation, in slow motion her fist came at me from the right. Half of my mind screamed
“move out of the way”
the other half
“brace for impact, what a story this will be”
I was almost disappointed at how much it didn’t hurt. It was like a playful slap with no sting, like she had spent all her energy screaming at me that she had none left to leave a bruise. I was extremely calm the whole time, a useful trait during an apocalypse I think, but if she were a zombie, that blink reaction non-action could have cost me my life.
Recently I was crossing a busy intersection near my home. A couple in front of me was walking their dog, one of those skittish mini poodle cross things. As we crossed the road the man’s phone fell out of his pocket hitting the dog squarely on the head. The dog whipped it’s head up at his owner, a look of pure betrayal in his eyes. It ducked its head and wriggled out of its leash. As the dog ran out into the middle of the intersection I once again developed the ability to leave my body and view things in slow motion. Unfortunately this also meant that my body was alone, in the middle of a busy road with a hysterical poodle. I would have loved to have seen my face when this all went down.
The couple eventually caught their dog and calmed him down and the sound of beeping horns brought my mind back to my body. I turned to see that the lights had turned green – the intersection wasn’t clear by some stroke of luck, or because everybody in their cars had seen the dog and were waiting until he was safe. It was clear because the lights had changed and now I was in the way. I like to think I saved this dogs life by my sheer inability to move a muscle during the 30 seconds but, if those cars were alien warships my non-action could have cost me my life.
When Hannah and I arrived at the Gili Islands and prepared to leave the ferry I witnessed a tragedy. I was looking out the ferry window towards the beach on my left and watched, horrified, as a small boy, no older than 8, dragged his limp, lifeless friend, feet first from the water onto the sand. I tried to say something but my throat seemed to be closed, clogged. Behind me an Australian guy exclaimed
“Oh my god”
I relaxed a little. Someone else had seen what I’d seen.
As the boy proceeded to give his drowned friend frantic CPR at the edge of the water the Australian guy provided running commentary of what was happening on the other side of the boat which had something to do with a girl and her butt. I wanted to scream. At him, at everyone on the boat and on the beach but I was physically incapable. No one was reacting. By this time I was standing outside on the front of the boat, preparing to climb down the ladder when the dead boy jumped to his feet, much too swiftly for someone whose lungs were filled with water. Then, the lifeguard boy charged back into the water and waved his hands around. Apparently it was now his turn to “drown”.
So yes, I am still undecided.
Side Note: Click here for my guide to The Gili Islands, Indonesia. You can also read about all the horrible things that didn’t happen while I was there.