By Kaare Askildt
Formerly known as The Farmer in Training
Have you ever been in that position? Where you’re in a pinch and wonder how you’re going to get out of it, or salvage a situation the best way possible? I’ve been there many times in my life. By the way, it is my belief that life comes with a best-before date and I’m past that, but I haven’t arrived at the expiry date yet!
Anyway, I started learning how to get out of tricky situations at a very young age. My twin brother and I were very active, and always found ourselves looking at each other and saying, “What do we do now?” In the beginning we learned to “boy up” (later it became man up) and take the punishment for whatever prank we had perpetrated on our unsuspecting older brother or our parents. Later we learned that being innovative would usually get us out of a predicament.
One time in our teenage years I had asked a girl on a Monday to take her to the dance on the coming Saturday. She coyly accepted, only to have her mother call my mother back the next day to cancel because she had come down with a fever. I quickly made arrangements with another cute female specimen, looking forward to having a great time with her. Then on the Friday the first girl called to say that the fever only lasted a day, and her mother had agreed that she could go to the dance. What do I do now? Two girls had agreed to come to the dance with me, but that could be very awkward if not disastrous! My identical twin brother (came) to the rescue! The girls never knew the difference.
I ended up in a tree once as a result of asking myself the question. I was selling encyclopaedias door to door in rural Norway, and while heading for the next farm house, I cut across a pasture only to come face to face with Ferdinand the bull. He lowered his head, scraped with his front hoof while snorting through his nostrils, making it crystal clear that he wanted a piece of me. What do I do now? I ran as fast as I could with the briefcase in one hand and my umbrella in the other! I headed for an old oak tree, left my umbrella and briefcase by the trunk at the bottom and scampered up high enough to be out of reach. The farmer had seen me perform a 100-metre dash in good Monty Python (aka John Cleese) style across the pasture in my business attire, including the briefcase and the umbrella. He apologized for not being able to rescue me sooner, but he had been laughing so hard that he had to sit down to compose himself.
Later on in life I have been in many situations where I have asked myself the question. I remember a time in Vancouver where I had acquired enough demerit points on my driver’s license, and was called into the motor vehicle office, where I was informed that my driving privileges would be suspended for a month. What do I do now? I needed my car for work, so I asked for a little time to make other arrangements, which I was granted. It was close to Christmas, so I booked my holidays and my wife and I flew with our daughter to spend Christmas in Norway, and get Annette christened at the same time. We came back to Vancouver just one day shy of my driving suspension, and I was back in business.
It seems that we are always able to come up with a solution when we ask ourselves the question. Sometimes we do the wrong thing – other times we do nothing, but most of the time we do the right thing. Like the time at our farm in Preeceville when Marion was a passenger on the Honda quad and we were towing a trailer full of fence posts. We had to drive up this short but steep hill and the Honda stalled halfway up. When I goosed it, the front end came up and started to fall over backwards, it would have crushed both of us. Marion thought she could use horse language with the quad and started saying “whoa, whoa!” It didn’t work so I thought what do I do now? I threw the quad sideways, the trailer hitch snapped off and the quad pinned me to a small tree. Marion was able to lift the quad off me. We went back down the hill, hitched up the trailer again, and took a run at the hill. We made it safely to the top.
All of these incidents or situations become part of the experiences we acquire in life. When we do make the same mistake again, we know from experience what the outcome will be – like driving on an icy road and taking the corner too fast.
The National Transportation Safety Board recently divulged that it had covertly funded a project with various auto makers for the past five years, whereby the auto makers were installing black boxes in four-wheel drive pickup trucks in an effort to determine, in fatal accidents, the circumstances in the last 15 seconds before the crash. They were surprised to find in most of Canada, the last words of drivers in 61.2 per cent of fatal crashes were: “Oh, No!” Only the Province of Saskatchewan was different, where 89.3 per cent of the final words were: “Hold my beer and watch this!”