Monday, September 22, 2008

The few, the proud, the hardheads

The fellow quoted below went the full mile in his attempt to qualify for a Darwin award, but failed because he survived Hurricane Ike. Others may feel differently, but I'm glad there are still people like this around to keep things interesting. I'd like to meet him. The link at bottom leads to a nice picture of him sitting on the porch where he rode out the storm. He looks a lot like Popeye's old Pappy.

Here are a couple of questions to ponder. Why do we take lots of risks when we're young and have decades of life to lose? Why do we become conservative and avoid risks like the plague when we're old and don't have so much to lose?

"Ray Wilkinson doesn't consider himself a hero for being the only Surfside Beach resident to ride out Hurricane Ike in his home.

Rather, the 67-year-old Marine Corps veteran considers himself to be the only one "stupid enough" to stay behind.

"I'm just a crazy, old hardhead," said Wilkinson, while sitting on the front porch of his Fort Velasco Boulevard apartment today. "I didn't say I had all my marbles."

The 30-year Surfside Beach resident said he watched the frenzy of Ike's arrival from the front porch of his upstairs apartment, which faces away from the beach.

"I just saw all kinds of goodies floating away, like my refrigerator downstairs," he said. "I watched automobiles floating by," like a Volvo that traveled for several blocks before ending up in a ditch."


Anonymous said...

There was a guy in New Orleans who rode out Katrina. He had also been in the military. After the storm, he sat on his front porch with his shotgun across his lap as a warning to looters.

I suspect that military training increases your chances for survival.

Sully said...

Once upon a time I was aboard a destroyer about a hundred miles from the eye of a big typhoon - 40 degree rolls, green water ten and fifteen feet deep sweeping down the exposed decks, no visibility from the bridge for minutes at a time in squalls. I acted brave and jauntily unconcerned just like all the other officers and almost all the men because any other reaction was unthinkable; but I was scared shitless, and everybody else aboard was also, if they had so much as a lick of sense.

The guy who wrote ". . . they see his wonders in the deep," surely experienced a storm at sea and understood why there are no atheists in foxholes.

A slight modification to your suspicion - I suspect that military experience increases the chance that you understand that survival is a coin toss at any given moment, so why not face unavoidable risk with style.

Another thought - there is nothing quite like the utterly liberated feeling of coming out the other end of such risk alive. That's why people skydive, I think.