Dear Bear Grylls

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Dear Bear,

My wife has a question she told me to ask you.

See, we live in a 3-floor townhouse and often think of stupid things while we’re on long road trips.  One thing that came up a few times is how we’d escape from our top floor if we woke up in the middle of the night to find our middle floor engulfed in a huge inferno.  Hopefully it never happens, but I was a Boy Scout … and you can relate obviously … so I like to be prepared.  I’m the kind of guy who went so far as to stash a spare set of shorts and flip-flops in the car in case I get wet somehow far from home.

If any part of the house were on fire, we’d have to run down the stairs from the 3rd to the 2nd floor, and through the 2nd floor to get to the back door or to reach the stairs that lead down to the bottom floor which also has an exit to the great outdoors (the building dissects uneven land, so we can reach the outdoors through the back of the 2nd or front of the 1st floor).  So it stands to reason that if the middle floor (where our kitchen is) was on fire, we’d be screwed.  Following me so far?  Of course.

My wife’s idea is to buy one of those emergency hang-from-the-window ladders and scramble down.  Oh did I mention we have a 3-year-old boy whose room is also on the top floor?  Well we do.  He thinks you’re awesome by the way, I said you’re Superman and this show we’re watching is what Superman does when crime takes a holiday.  That’s why you’re always in such a hurry to get out of wherever you are, because crime takes short holidays.

The ladder would work, but getting the boy down would be hard if not impossible.  I can’t get him to stand still long enough to put on his socks, nevermind hold onto me so I can climb safely down a ladder.  He’d probably survive a straight drop to Mother Earth but likely wouldn’t enjoy it, and as the apple of my eye my entire life is now devoted to making sure things are enjoyable for him.  And I’m horrible on ladders, climbing up is OK but I freak out going down.

Idea #2 is to prepare some decent rope under the kid’s bed, so if there’s a fire we’d just tie it around him and lower him to the ground (did you see the movie Up?  Kinda like that but hopefully without dropping him.)  Then again, if the kitchen was on fire we’d be lowering him right to it.  Outside, but still, the big patio window is right there and seeing his artwork on the fridge go up in flames would likely be life alteringly terrifying.

Another problem with idea #2 is that while the kid is on the ground we’d still be stuck in the room.  I guess we could try to shimmy down but we’d probably just end up with horrible rope burn at the least.  Likely we’d simply fall and die.  And then he’d be outside alone, terrified from the flaming-fridge-artwork horror and run off screaming towards the train tracks.

Back to the original point:  What Would Bear Do?

I imagine Bear would just grab the kid in one hand, grab the wife in the other, leap from the window with a grin and eat a cockroach at the same time, land happily and put out the fire with spare urine you had lying about in spare snake skin bladders hanging off the back fence for just these kinds of emergencies.

Well, best of luck with this season’s amazing adventures.  If you’re ever in Port Moody, BC and want to do something really manly show me how to escape from our townhouse.

Jens “Narwhal” Petersen


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