July 15, 2002

I’ve been spending far too much time cruising the upper digits of our cable TV system lately, lazily watching more bad movies than is necessary or healthy.

In an effort to justify all of this wasted time, I’ve synthesized a few important tips for dealing with the dramatic crises that characterize so many of these films.

How not to be hit by a car

If a car, truck, or other vehicle is coming at you head-on at 50 mph or more, do not run straight ahead.

Running straight ahead is, I’m afraid, an instinct that seems most commonly shared among women, particularly those “of a certain age” and at a certain, shall we say, declining, stage of their professional lives, such as Donna Mills, Michelle Lee, Joan van
Ark, Joanna Kerns, Jaclyn Smith, and Judith Light.

Men, however, are by no means immune to this impulse.

Running straight ahead is a race you are guaranteed to lose. Instead, turn your body either to your right or to your left. By doing so, you will take yourself out of the vehicle’s direct path.

If you have followed this advice, do not later negate your effort by doing something completely moronic. That means do not turn around and, more important, do not stand still staring at the vehicle, waiting to see whether it turns around to make another straight-on run at you. Keep moving!

Continue running in whichever direction you chose (i.e., right or left) and search for one of the following, any of which a vehicle would have some difficulty navigating: higher ground; a densely wooded forest; a stream, river, or other body of water; or a quarry, rock pile, ditch, mine field, proving ground, or any other patch of comparably impassable landscape.

Alternatively, and assuming you are not carrying a cell phone, try to find a residence or business, no matter how isolated, or better yet, in a densely populated area, someplace where you might possibly find other people and/or a telephone that you could use to call for help.

How to deal with phone harassment

If you are receiving threatening or harassing phone calls and you do not know who is making them, shell out the lousy, what, 10, 12 bucks for Caller ID. It’s 2002 for crying out loud.

Then, set up your phone so that it rejects anonymous callers. Pick up your phone and dial *77. Your phone will now reject all calls from those who have blocked their numbers. This will continue until you pick up the phone again sometime and dial *87. This is a free service. Use it.

If you are incapable of performing either or both of these tasks, at least try to remember this: If you receive a threatening phone call and immediately hang up on the other caller, and the phone then rings again right away, it’s a pretty safe bet that the caller is the same person who harassed you just seconds ago. So . . . Don’t answer the phone!

After all, just because you aren’t aware of the existence of Caller ID and *77 doesn’t mean the rest of the world is unfamiliar with the simple concept of a redial button!

Also, asking “Hello?” two, maybe three, times is more than sufficient. If the person on the other end can’t come up with something to say after three hellos, chances are he’s not going to be a great conversationalist. Hang up.

And inquiring, “Who is this?” rarely, if ever, results in your getting the information you want.

Finally, if worse comes to worse, call your local telephone service provider and ask them to change your phone number.

Now wasn’t that easy?


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