Safety instructions

Telluride Daily Planet Sunday, June 24, 2012

Before starting anything make sure you have read the directions twice. Reread that last sentence, for instance.

First thing is just to calm down and think about someone you know who has lots of patience. Like your uncle Don who can fix everything, including toasters, and not only that, who butters his toast all the way to the edges and then actually chews his food rather than just inhales it over the sink.

You have someone like that in your life. Someone who doesn’t rush, isn’t restless, doesn’t have a short fuse but who also makes you feel good — unlike, say, the kind of people who actually slow down in the pedestrian crossing even when you stop your car for them. Those people are not safe, they are deeply angry. Uncle Don, on the other hand, is well-adjusted, funny and smart and simply cares and does not rush.

Unplug any appliances before starting. Put the oxygen mask over your face first so that you can breathe so that you can help others. You can’t help others without helping yourself, and the world really can’t change without personal transformation, so there you go. In the event of a water landing, you’ll need to swim, so imagine your own version of uncle Don and how calm he is first while breathing the oxygen through the mask and then as he slides down the inflatable ramp into the screaming cold, dark ocean of life.

Because he is patient and safe and has read the safety card and because he is not panicking like the rest of the people whose arms are waving as they bob around, he doesn’t expend nearly as much energy and keeps going longer, which is critical when waiting for the life raft. In the raft, protect your lower back. We must always protect our lower backs by using our cores. Also: Use safety goggles. Whenever you can. Because things may fly into your eyes at any moment.

It’s very important to remember that your contents are under pressure so be careful when opening your mouth. And when you do? That’s right: uncle Don. Taste your words before you utter them. Then swallow them with two aspirin and lots of water, at least eight ounces, and don’t leave the electric blanket on all night or you’ll wake up even worse off.

Because even though the world has magnetic iron at its core, we don’t really understand much about electromagnetism even though we like pretending we do. Don’t throw batteries in the garbage. In fact, don’t throw batteries. Whenever throwing anything, though, follow through, like in tennis or golf, to keep your shoulder — possibly the most complicated joint in the body — safe.

And always stretch. When stretching, be safely dynamic but do not bounce. Your life is as long as your spine is supple: but don’t overdo it in the warm up. Now that you are warmed up, answer this: How many safe people does it take to screw in a light bulb? Whatever the answer is, don’t even think about standing on the top rung of the stepstool. And when you finally do try to install a dimmer switch in the powder room just because it might be fun to brush your teeth in evening light (using an extra soft toothbrush in order to stimulate the gums), you’ll have to turn off the circuit breaker for that northeast part of the house. In case of a power outage, use the emergency candles, but remember most home fires started by candles occur in December and in bedrooms. So keep that in mind. You can read all about candles by turning them upside down, but not when they’re lit.

Para continuar en Español, oprima el dos. To safely continue on in English, do nothing at all. Because the call may in fact be monitored for quality assurance purposes, stay on the line. Having remembered that the menu options might have changed, just like other things that can change in the screaming cold, dark water of life at any time without your being in the slightest bit ready for them, do the uncle Don thing. Just keep going, patiently, safely on.

Because when we’re patient, we’re safe. When we’re patient, we are not rushing, we are living in the moment, looking around, getting the lay of the land. Sure, you can get in your car and go anywhere you want and even drive five over the speed limit. Just put on your seatbelt. Check your rearview mirror every three to eight seconds. And keep on driving.

Hopefully, you don’t have to be told to carry a first aid kit in the car, a blanket, some matches, energy bars you won’t be tempted to eat, a down coat, work gloves and a flare and motion sickness pills. Right?

Because safety may start with S, but it begins with U.


2 Replies to “Safety instructions”

  1. How many safe people does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

    One, to hold the bulb while thinking the earth revolves about them. 😉

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