Weird Thoughts: Crossing The Street Equivalents?

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 12.06% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I feel bad about my dog’s leash, but she’d be dead in minutes if I let her loose.  She doesn’t know about looking both ways, you see.  If some other dog catches her eye, she’ll make a beeline for that dog on the other side of the road, even if traffic’s coming.
Thing is, at one point I was as dumb as my dog.  I had the benefit of language and training, so my parents taught me to “look both ways before you cross the street,” and so I managed to learn about a grave and constant danger that could kill me.
And I wondered: native Americans didn’t have cars.  But they must have had some equivalent of the “look both ways” lesson – some fatal ignorance that got poor kids killed unless they learned it.  One suspects it’s the “don’t wander off into the woods” lesson, given all the Grimm’s fairytales about kids ending poorly after loping off… but that’s not quite an equivalent, given that it’s something we still have to teach kids today, albeit in a modified form.  (“Don’t wander off into the store” remains a classic source of parental panic.)
I suspect a direct equivalent to the “look both ways” lesson is one that I, a fairly intelligent man in another civilization, would not have internalized.  Just as a tribal dude from deep jungles brought to America wouldn’t have any particular instincts to “look both ways before crossing this path.”  (Maybe he’d suss it out, if he was lucky enough to be in an area with enough traffic, but given that he doesn’t routinely deal with speeding hunks of death lurching at him from nowhere, he certainly wouldn’t default to it.)
So what is this outdoors-specific lesson that I probably would not know?  Well, I don’t know.
Maybe you do?


  1. Chris Ogilvie
    Jan 25, 2015

    As someone who lives in a cold climate, here’s an outdoors one that doesn’t apply to urban living: “If you sweat, you die.”
    Let me explain. If you’re out in the Canadian woods in winter, you’re going to be bundled up. If the temperature rises during the day, or if you exert yourself, you’re going to be too hot, even if it’s kind of cold out. If you sweat into your gear, it’ll get damp. When the temperature drops at night, that dampness means you freeze to death.
    What you want to do, despite it seeming counter-intuitive, is open your coat or strip off a few layers during the day or while exerting yourself, *even if this makes you feel kind of cold*.
    The point is to be continually monitoring and regulating your temperature such that you neither freeze to death immediately nor overheat and sweat (meaning you freeze to death later).
    But… as a city guy, if I’d never been told this, I would have thought “Oh, yeah, winter, huh? Better keep bundled up as warm as possible.” And that would kill me. I’d never have figured it out before I learned the *hard* way.

  2. Yet Another Laura H
    Jan 25, 2015

    That’s good. Also, “shake out your bedroll/ shoes/ clothing before you interact with it in more skin-touchy ways.” I’ve always privately thought part of digging a cathole is to chase away the sort of venomous critters that bite when surprised.
    Hm… always make sure you can find your way back? Surprisingly easy to screw up on this one.

  3. David
    Jan 26, 2015

    I think it is precisely the same lesson… Be aware of where you are putting your feet. Desert climes have quicksand, northern climes have ice, jungles have pits and deadly fauna and cities have streets.

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