Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Safety First Encore


A recent encounter at a Costco parking lot reminded me of a post I wrote way back in 2010 about the apparent disappearance of the survival instinct in our advanced civilization.  What took millions of years of selective breeding and then further training of subsequent generations on how to prevail over the earth's natural environment - deserts, oceans and jungles, seems to have melted away, along with the polar ice cap, when faced with the ubiquitous urban terrain of a big box asphalt parking lot!

To be clear.....instead of flowery, I almost backed up over a small boy who was running behind my MOVING VEHICLE with a CARDBOARD BOX ON HIS HEAD!!!!

To be fair, he was chasing after his father, who, being a man, wasn't looking behind him for the kid, but was preoccupied with checking for his car keys.  I realize I am asking for trouble, casting this gender biased aspersion, but it was, after all, a dad who, once upon a recent time, thought it was a good idea to perch his toddler on the edge of the alligator pit at the zoo, with the obvious (to a mother) consequences.

After I regained my composure, I finished pulling out of my spot and drove all the way around to their location where they were packing up their haul, to speak to them about the narrow escape which neither of them had even noticed.  My fingers were wrapped around the steering wheel.  I had no interest in scolding.   I pleasantly addressed the child and said something along the lines of how it wasn't a great idea to run around behind moving cars with a cardboard box on your head if you want to live long enough to park your indifferent old man in a senior facility and never bother to visit!

I think they got my point.  So, in today's spirit of recycling, renewing and, for me, rescuing, I offer this regurgitated commentary:

When I was a schoolgirl, branding was not as rampant as it is today.

Of course, I am referring to the concept of burning the identification of a product or logo into the limited real estate of a developing brain, not the permanent scarring of bodily flesh, as was popular in previous centuries.

However, one brand does remain forever impressed on my consciousness. It is the image of a smiling young elephant holding a flag in his trunk. Wait a minute! That might be Dumbo, a Disney elephant, whose pathetic story did scar me, emotionally, for life.

Lose the flag.

Yes, that’s the Elmer I remember, warning us all to look both ways and not to run out between parked cars. A little research on Google confirms that, much to my surprise, Elmer is still at it. He has received a ‘makeover’ to keep him contemporary (ie. he is somewhat chubbier now, in keeping with the obesity epidemic in young children, I guess) and you can check him out on his spiffy website: http://elmer.ca/home.php
 full of interactive games, printable colouring pages and the usual admonitions, although the emphasis has shifted dramatically from street safety to how much and how often to apply sunscreen after putting aside the gameboys before venturing outside to play.  From this site, you might draw the conclusion that dying from overexposure has surpassed auto accidents as the major cause of childhood fatalities in our day.

 Interestingly, it seems necessary to explain that the actual word ‘accident’ means ‘unintentional injuries’ in case you didn’t already know. There it is, defined clearly on one of the pages, just in case you grew up in recent times, when common thinking has been that there are no such things as ‘accidents’.

In his day, (and mine) Elmer was incredibly successful, rescuing thousands of incipient boomers from calamitous collisions. These days, judging from the way people obliviously prance around in parking lots, it is abundantly clear that Elmer’s days, as a media darling, are long over.

Take, for example, pedestrian behavior in my Costco parking lot. Whereas Elmer encouraged us to take responsibility for our own skins, today’s uninformed shoppers, blithely pushing their carts full of giant sized groceries and tiny children into my back-up lights, have given up that personal onus entirely. They march confidently along, ignoring all backward vehicular movement, content to place their lives in my hands. Lucky for them, I can still see out the back window and even refer to my rearview mirror on occasion. But word is out that my generation, the biggest bulge in the aging demographic (‘twas ever thus) will soon out-age everyone else. So they’d better heed Elmer and learn to be a lot more careful.

If I keep shrinking, like my relatives have before me, I soon won’t notice them at all. And they will barely glimpse my head peeking over the dashboard. They will be fair game.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
 Look both ways.

No comments:

Post a Comment