My Week 204: Vacation Planning “Worst Case Style”

Ken and I are about to go on vacation. We’re flying to Calgary. Then we’re driving to Edmonton. Then we’re getting on a train to Vancouver. Then we’re taking a ship to Alaska. This whole ‘adventure’ has kicked my obsessive need to plan for the worst into high gear. I already figured out how to survive a train derailment when we were in Spain, and the lifeboat drills on a cruise ship are a tremendous comfort to me. The plane I know I can’t do anything about unless it lands in water but I booked an aisle seat just in case. (Ken: You should wear running shoes on the plane in case it crashes and we have to go down the slide. Me: I’m wearing flip flops in case we’re in water and I have to use them like flippers.) But there are other forces outside of my control that are making me very stressed; for example, I already found out three weeks ago that the train will be arriving in Vancouver 9 hours late. It hasn’t even left the damn station yet–how do they know?! The best I could do was build a 24-hour buffer into each of these segments of our journey because anyone who knows me well, knows that I always plan ahead. In fact, if you’ll remember, in an earlier blog I talked about buying Kate a book called The Little Book of Worst Case Scenarios so that even she, as a young child, could start to plan for disasters such as:

a) Bear Attacks: Make yourself look as large as possible and scream loudly to let the bear know you could take it in a fight. Do not run—bears are, apparently, very gazelle-like.

b) Driving a car into a river: Find an air pocket, wait for the car to be submerged, then open the door and swim to the surface. Kate was like “I’m seven years old–why would I ever drive my car into a river?” I DON”T KNOW, KATE. But if you plan for these things, you might SURVIVE them, and now that you’re twenty and have a driver’s license, it’s a damn good thing you know about this.

c) Bouncy Castle Mishaps: The survival rate for a bouncy castle you’re playing in which suddenly becomes untethered and floats away (which apparently happens more often than you think) is very poor. That’s why my child had boring but safe birthday parties.

So after years of careful consideration and planning, I feel ready for almost anything, like wrestling an alligator or even escaping from a burning bus. For example, I have hammers in strategic places around the house, which prompted Ken to ask, “Why do you have a hammer in the bathroom?” Answer: in case there’s a fire, and I can’t get to my new fire extinguisher, and I have to smash the bathroom window and crawl out onto the porch roof. Obviously. Here’s another example–in the winter, we put a wheelbarrow over the pond so that Titus doesn’t fall through the snow into the frigid water. This happened to our previous dog, prompting a very heated argument which had followed this earlier argument:

Ken: I’m going to dig a 3-foot deep pond.
Me: Don’t be ridiculous. Someone will fall in and drown.
Ken: No one is going to fall in. You’re worrying for no reason. It needs to be deep so the fish can survive the winter.
Me: I’m serious. Please, I’m begging you, don’t make it so deep.
Ken: I’m totally disregarding your emotions and I’m going to do what I want. Screw you. (OK, he didn’t actually say any of THAT, but he DID continue to dig a 3 foot deep pond despite my objections).

6 months later, we let the dogs out into the back yard. The pond was covered by a healthy layer of snow, and about ten minutes later, we realized that we couldn’t see one of the dogs, the really old one with bad arthritis. Yes, she had fallen into the pond, and it was too deep for her to climb out. Ken rushed outside and rescued her, prompting this heated argument, which I will sum up in one sentence:

Me: OMFG!! I TOLD you this would happen!! And the fish are all DEAD!!

Hence the wheel barrow which straddles the pond all winter. As you might already know, I also have a baseball bat under my side of the bed. This is the scenario for the baseball bat:

1) We wake up in the middle of the night to strange noises coming from downstairs.
2) Ken, as one does, offers to investigate. He puts on his housecoat and goes down with the dog, who is clearly agitated.
3) I wait, wracked with fear. There are shouts, commotion, then nothing.
4) I assume that the intruder has tied both Ken and Titus up, and is taunting them as he steals our stuff.
5) I quietly get the baseball bat out from under the bed and sneak downstairs. The intruder has his back to me.
6) Ken sees me, but luckily, he’s gagged so he can’t do what he would normally do and say something like, “Why do you have a baseball bat?!”
7) I swing, connect with the intruder’s head, and down he goes.
8) I free Ken and Titus, we tie up and gag the intruder, and then we call the police. Ta dah!

Would it happen like this in real life? Hopefully we’ll never have to find out.

So you see, I have impending disasters carefully planned, even in Toronto, where I live in a high rise building on the 34th floor during the week. This, of course, has led to a whole new set of worst case scenarios. For example, I have a balcony. Everyone is always like, “Awesome, you have a balcony—I’ll bet you can’t wait until it’s nice enough to sit out there.” Are you f*cking kidding me? Do you think there’s ANY way I will EVER sit out on a precipice that is over 400 feet from the ground? And here’s why. It occurred to me that the balcony figures prominently in several worst case scenarios, which I am slowly working my way through. Here’s the one I solved during my first month there, as I lay awake listening to the baby next door screaming like it was being throttled (it wasn’t, of course; when I politely inquired after its health in the morning, the mother told me they were “sleep training” him, and he was “very unhappy” about it. Oh yeah? I’ll bet he wasn’t as unhappy as me.) Anyway, I suddenly had this horrible thought that, say, I did take someone’s advice and try to grow pots of basil on the balcony. I go out there to water my plants, and somehow the door closes and locks behind me. I don’t know how that would actually happen, but say that it did. What now? I’m stuck on a 34th floor balcony, wearing only pajamas (because that’s what I was wearing when I started trying to solve this problem).

Option A: Scream for help. No, because I’m 34 floors up. No one on the ground can hear me, and the neighbours’ eardrums have been damaged by their ‘unhappy’ child.

Option B: Take off an article of clothing to wave around and attract attention. Well, I’m only wearing pajama bottoms and a T-shirt—which one do I use? I guess I have to decide HOW MUCH attention I actually want. But who will see me that high up anyway?

Option C: Start tossing the basil pots down to the ground until someone looks up and sees me (either topless or pantless) and calls the cops. This solution is unlikely because my experience with people downtown so far is that many of them are either completely self-absorbed and oblivious to the world around them, or looking down at the ground for cigarette butts.

No, the only sure thing is Option D: Keep an extra hammer out on the balcony. Then I can smash the glass in the patio door and get back into my condo. The hammer people must love me. Not only do I have several scattered around my house, I’ve purchased two for Toronto as well. I should probably put one in my desk drawer at work too, just in case. Fun fact: Via Trains are equipped with tiny hammers in boxes to smash the windows in case we are somehow trapped in the train. Nice to know they’ve been paying attention. Now if they could only arrive on time…

Update: Ken and I are in Vancouver right now, about to get on the boat. Man, do I have some stories for you when we get back!

41 thoughts on “My Week 204: Vacation Planning “Worst Case Style”

  1. It takes a vacation for me to me among the first readers of your new and fabulous post. Not my vacation, yours. How in the butterfly-effected world does THAT work, hammer lady?!

    My first thought was to start throwing potted plants at the world below until someone was pissed off enough at me (from breaking their car window or smashing their spouse’s head) to rush up and kick my ass. If they did, however, they might be mad enough to throw me off the ledge. Either way, I suppose, I’m off the balcony. Which leads us to Option E (I think we made it to E), a 400-ft rappelling rope. Sure, it’ll take up a little more room on the balcony than a hammer, but nothing has to be damaged in the escape. We’ll throw out the basil to make room. At $14/pound, basil’s pretty cheap to buy, anyway. And we just saved $14 on a hammer, so that worked out well.

    Enjoy your vacation on trains, plains, and automobiles, Suzanne. Can’t wait to hear the stories in Week 205!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I am so with you on staying off the 34th floor balcony……no thank you! I have a arduous (perhaps a slight exaggeration) journey every Sunday and reading your posts before I have to venture out always puts me in a better mood. You give the greatest gift, Suzanne! I can’t wait for the stories about your holiday!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I totally get this – I always consider the worst things that could happen and like to be prepared. That is probably why I don’t like to travel – too many unknowns and I’d just prefer not to stress about all that. LOL. Instead of hammers all over our house it is flashlights. Power outage is our biggest threat. I hope you have a safe and enjoyable trip. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I completely get all of this, as I go through the same, except without your sense of humor. I have go bags and checklists, and extra batteries. I wear glasses, so extra glasses are in the cars and scattered around the house and packed into my go bags. I’ve been on a recent binge of ‘what if I need to evacuate because of the wildfires and live in a gym or church for several days?’ This has prompted me to start some Internet searches for new survival gear.

    Happy – and safe – travels.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s funny—I don’t have a go bag, and you’d think I would. I DO know exactly what I’d take with me in case of fire though—I have it committed to memory for both home and the condo! As for the glasses, I completely relate—I used to laugh at older people who claimed they couldn’t see anything without reading glasses but now I’d be lost without them!


  5. If you always expect the worst, you will usually end up pleasantly surprised by what actually happens. Did you say that at some point or is your blog just making me attribute it to you as something that you could have said?

    Anyway, here’s to none of your worst case scenarios happening this week.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You really know how to hammer the point home.
    Yes, I had to say that. And I’d like to know what kind of fish Ken was keeping in that pond. I ask because at the pet shop closest to me you can get goldfish for something like fifteen cents each. If my wife ever lets me dig a pond–and I’ve asked several times even though we have a terrible yard for it and three dogs who would urinate in it, swim in it, and drink from it, in that order–those are the only fish I’d put in it.
    Especially since my wife has an uncle who put a pond in his backyard and added some fifteen cent goldfish to it and then put some very expensive fish in it. Guess which fish the birds ate.
    I’m probably focusing on the wrong thing here but that’s how I deal with worst case scenarios: I direct my attention to the completely unimportant stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yeah, they were just 15 cent feeder fish but I’d named them all after literary figures and they were really cute ☹️ The fish we currently have are the same kind but we’ve had them for about three years and they get pretty big. Their names are Goldie 1, Goldie 2, Goldie 3, and Spot—no point getting too attached to them apparently…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I went on a sailing trip once (around the very chilled and relaxed Australia coastline, vital info for the punchline) and we had the whole safety drill before anchors away. Our very laid back skipper showed us where to find the lifejackets, how to don one, how to inflate one, and demonstrated the use of the attached whistle. He wrapped up the briefing with the words ‘And finally, the MOST important thing to remember, above everything else I’ve said, make sure you put your sunnies on. Because you wanna be looking good when you’re rescued’. Have a fabulous trip. Looking forward to reading your travel tales 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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