As many of you know, I have long maintained that the machines are out to get me…
However, it occurred to me after a conversation with my brother last year, that a number of other things in the natural world have also attempted to kill me, or at the very least, placed me in the “oh my god, that was close, I could have died” category.
So, I decided to list all of my near-misses and brushes with death, (crocodiles, killer bees, cars, ceiling fans, etc) to see who the real evil mastermind is – technology, nature, or my own stupidity (try not to jump to conclusions people, let’s see this through).
Working backwards from the beginning therefore…
1) Attack by Escalator – Age: 2
In this first instance of machine-related carnage, an evil escalator attempted to eat me and tried to remove several fingers on my left hand, ostensibly because I was playing on it and I fell over. Luckily, I escaped relatively unscathed (thanks to my mother, and the wonders of modern medicine), and 6 operations later, retain full use of my left hand. I am also pretty confident that I started the urban legend about why children shouldn’t play on escalators…
Technology – 1, Nature – 0 (Unless we’re counting natural selection, in which case…) Stupidity – 1
2) Appendicitis – Age: 6
This one is probably going to have to be chalked up to nature, as my appendix almost burst on me as a child, but thankfully once again my parents and modern medicine soon sorted me out. You’re probably guessing by now I was a fairly accident-prone child, and I have a lot to thank my parents for…
Technology – 1, Nature – 1, Stupidity – 1
3) Lightening Strike – Age: 17
Ok, this one seems as though it would clearly be down to nature, however there were several other factors to consider…
I was working at the time at a Tudor Mansion near our house in Suffolk called Kentwell Hall (it’s utterly fab and you should all visit it immediately). My job that particular summer was to man (sorry, woman) the Hog Roast in the marquee outside the main gates, which was set up between the main drive and a large horse paddock. At the end of the day, after selling an entire pig’s worth of meat in rustic floury baps, I had to pour out all of the fat into a bag for disposal, and then wash down the huge metal tray that sits in the bottom of the roasting apparatus. As we were in a marquee out in a field, the hose with a tap was slung over the metal chicken-wire fence behind the tent.
So there I was, standing in a field, leaning against the metal fence, holding a 1.5 metre-long metal tray under a stream of running water from the tap, when lightening strikes the fence.
Holy shit it was scary.
Luckily, as I realised about 5 seconds after it happened, the lightening didn’t strike MY fence, but the electric fence about a foot away on the inside of my fence, and I only realise this because a) alarm bells start going off, and b) I’m not dead.
But still, extremely scary, and I’m not convinced the electric fence wasn’t trying to kill me, so I’m giving this a one-all to both the machines and nature. And probably also stupidity, although in my defence I was merely doing my job!
Technology – 2, Nature – 2, Stupidity – 2
4) Killer Bees – Age 18 & 20
On 2 separate occasions, killer bees/wasps have gone straight for my jugular, and stung me right in the carotid artery, which is both painful, and weird/surreal. Also both times it happened at Kentwell, which is now making me wonder if it’s just a large tudor mansion in the picturesque Suffolk countryside that’s really out to get me….
Anyhoo, the first time it happened, I was waitressing at a wedding, and I felt something on my necklace. Assuming it was a fly, I absent-mindedly tried to brush it off, but the wasp clearly got tangled in my necklace and started stinging me. It hurt a lot, and made me feel extremely woozy and strange, as I could feel the venom pumping straight from my neck to my head.
The second time, I swear to god, I didn’t even see the wasp, or touch it – it just flew straight at me and stung me in the neck! With no provocation! Pardon the pun, but this bastard made an aggressive beeline straight for the jugular and it was brutal!
With the first killer wasp attack, I felt so peculiar for hours afterwards, that I became convinced I might die (even though I’m not allergic to bees or wasps). I came home from work late (from the wedding) and my mum was already asleep. I was convinced I might die in the night, and was worried that my mother might never know what killed me so unexpectedly. So I decided to leave her a note stuck to my bedroom door in case when she woke up I was dead, that said something like:
Tonight at work I got stung in the neck by a wasp, and it made me feel really weird. Just wanted you to know in case I’m dead in the morning and you don’t think to look for the sting mark in my neck.
Lots of love, Maya”
This one was clearly all nature (and possibly some sort of haunted tudor mansion) out to get me.
Technology – 2, Nature – 3, Stupidity – 2
5) Car Crash – Age: 19
This one was extremely real and scary, and sadly also 100% my own fault, and therefore has to be chalked up to stupidity. It was late, I had only recently passed my test and got a new car, I thought I was an amazing driver and fairly invincible at 19. Basically, I was going slightly too fast around country roads at midnight on a Saturday, popping home from a party where I was washing up/designated driver (ironic I know) to fetch something. I drove through a large puddle, and aquaplaned slightly, and so the next puddle instead of slowing down, I actually just drove around it.
In doing so, I had swung out onto the wrong side of the road, and in the dark had not seen a sharp-ish bend in the road beyond the puddle. Cue oversteering, screeching of tyres, and me spinning the car around, and flipping it over into a hedge/ditch.
Thankfully I was wearing my seatbelt (ALWAYS wear your seatbelt people!) and so didn’t die a horrible, painful death, but did, on un-clipping said seatbelt, fall painfully across the car and land in a heap on the passenger window (I was unaware at the time that the car had flipped over onto it’s side). There was some hysterical panic and screaming for a while as I failed to open either of the doors above me or kick out the windshield, which is in fact really hard to do, no matter what hollywood movies would have you believe.
Eventually I calmed down enough to think, stopped screaming and just wound down the window to climb out. I maintain that had I had electric windows the machines would have trapped me in there for much longer! After pulling myself up out of the window, I crawled back through the hedge and ditch and escaped almost completely unscathed, which is some sort of miracle. The policemen, when they came later, listened carefully to my story about the puddle, checked me for alcohol (which of course was not present), and then proclaimed that a rabbit must have darted out and scared me, and that’s why I crashed. Far less embarassing all round, they said with a kind pat on the shoulder.
So, sadly this one must be chalked up to Stupidity.
Technology – 2, Nature – 3, Stupidity – 3
6) Having tea with Hezbollah – Age 25
Technology – 2, Nature – 3, Stupidity – 3
7) Ceiling fan attempts to decapitate me – Age: 28
This one was all machine. They got real, and got serious, and almost took my legs off!
To get the full version of this story, I really ought to force you all to go out and buy a copy of Chasing Misery, the book I’m a contributer of, in which I tell this story in riveting detail. Also if more of you buy the book then I’ll get more than $9 in royalties next year…
However, an alternative account of the story is here for your amusement….
And so the scores even up to a clear 3-all….
Technology – 3, Nature – 3, Stupidity – 3
8) Accidentally went swimming in a crocodile-infested River – Age 29
This one I can honestly say was part nature, part stupidity.
It’s exactly as idiotic as it sounds. Again, I will direct you to the full, unadulterated and far funnier version of this story here. Enjoy – it really was one of the funnier ones, and very disconcerting! And once again nature and stupidity take the lead…
Technology – 3, Nature – 4, Stupidity – 4
9) Wheel falls off our moving car while I’m in it – Age 33
This one was definitely the machines out to get me – no question. It happened in Iraq/Kurdistan, and was scary but thankfully we came out unscathed and the warning clunking noises meant that we had already slowed right down before the wheel actually fell off, so we didn’t actually crash.
Technology – 4, Nature – 4, Stupidity – 4
9) Attacked by dogs – Age 34
I was on holiday in Thailand, and while walking towards a restaurant to get some dinner, two dogs ran at me barking and growling, and came at me full force until I was backed up against a wall screaming. Then one of them nipped me – an attempted bite, but it was clearly a warning shot and didn’t actually break the skin. However they tore a large hole in my trousers, in the bum-area, and left me really quite shaken and frightened! Some friendly locals chased the dogs away with sticks and gave me a ride home thank goodness!
This one was 100% nature.
Technology – 4, Nature – 5, Stupidity – 4
Hmmm, so I can’t think of any other near-death experiences so far, and it looks like nature has snuck into the lead… If I remember any more, I’ll let you know!