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I stop to ponder a hypothetical scenario in which I might need to know “How to win a sword fight” or “How to leap from a burning car”. Further indulging my pessimism, I begin to fantasise…
I am siting comfortably in the first class compartment of a train from Paris to Munich, quietly minding my own business, sipping coffee from a china mug and reading my Pessimists Handbook, when the door at the end of the carriage opens. In walks a decrepit looking old man dressed in tattered rags, giving him the appearance of Fagan from Oliver Twist. Unlike Fagan on the other hand, he sports a gleaming new assault rifle and is draped in chains of ammunition. This, I realise, gives him more of a “Rambo meets Hunchback of Notre Dame” appearance. After a little deliberation, I notice that this is somewhat out of place in my train carriage, which to my perplexed bemusement, is becoming littered with bullet holes.
Caring not at this time to ponder the philosophical implications of this seemingly random outburst of post-teenage angst, I am more worried about the looming possibility of ending unfashionably dead. Remembering my survival handbook, I “run fast but do not move in a straight line” and “weave back and forth”. Coming to the opposite end of the carriage, I slide open the door, and “turn a corner as quickly as I can” which leaves me but one option; to climb the ladder leading onto the top of the carriage. Having previously read the chapter entitled “How to Maneuver on Top of a Moving Train”, I am fortunately informed that I should “not attempt to stand up straight… stay bent slightly forward, leaning into the wind”.
As I “move my body with the rhythm of the train – from side to side and forward”, I remember my feet should be “spread about 30 inches apart”, and that I should “wobble from side to side” as I move forward.
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"Murphys Law." 123HelpMe.com. 17 Jan 2020
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Never the less, having managed to “find the ladder at the end of the next car and climb down”, I rest for a moment to deliberate on the bizarre sequence of events that lead me from a quiet coffee to Mission Impossible within one minute.
Suddenly, I hear more gunshots coming from inside the carriage, but as I turn to flee once more, I notice that having reached the end of the train, I have run out of train on which to perform miraculous stunts. Once again being reassuringly informed by my handbook, I prepare myself for the perilous lunge from the train. Knowing to “aim for a soft landing site: grass, brush, - anything but pavement or a tree”, I become vaguely amused at how my handbook makes no allowance for common sense. I would have thought that most people, when jumping from a moving train, would try not to hit a tree. I begin to wonder if someone lacking in common sense would think that a tree could “cushion the blow”.
Confronting the situation at hand, I prepare myself for the jump by “tucking in your head and your arms and legs” and aiming for a “soft landing site” I close my eyes and jump. Whilst suspended timelessly in flight, I deliberate once more on my question of common sense, remembering a phrase from my handbook which states: “roll when you hit the ground”. It then occurs to me that a human body when catapulted from a fast-moving train may indeed have little say in the matter. I fear that when introduced to the prospect of hitting the ground at seventy miles an hour, most objects would not just gracefully roll over the soft terrain coming to a gentle halt.
And thus, my fantasy comes to an end, and once more I find myself sitting quietly on a Saturday afternoon. It seems that for all the pessimists out there, there is hope for you yet, for if you ever find yourself being chased along the roof of a moving train by a madman with an assault rifle, and if you are ever forced into throwing yourself from a train travelling at seventy miles an hour, you can rest assured that a healthy level of common sense will be able to save you from catastrophe. And for all of you who are lacking in common sense, then you can always reassure your insecurities with more useless information at www.worstcasescenarios.com