Quora (or: Why I Need to Pull the Plug on “Life Hacks,” relationship advice to those without girlfriends, and explaining why Raskilnikov was a Hero)

Minus the dashes. I read two answers that rhymed with”Google co-founder” and who-the-hell-cares. Sorry, kids.  My distrust of you and your lack of anything interesting going on upstairs has become a full-blown phobia.  So I wrote this. Because it works. And it’s never a situation you expect to be in. But one day you just might — and you’re gonna owe me in spades, man. And I don’t take PayPal.

What Can I Learn in One Minute That Will Be Useful For the Rest of My Life?
Despite the “show me what you got before I check my Twitter account and pre-order a scone from the bakery downstairs” mindset of the inquirer and it being indicative of the generation whose smarts and app-savvy far outweigh its collective body of wisdom and knowledge…I give you this.

How to Get Out of a Dangerous if not Fatal Confrontation in a Violent Neighborhood in 60 Seconds

Your Uber driver is lost. Despite your incessant repeating of where you need to go in the unfamiliar part of town you’re in? He doesn’t get it. And your phone is dying. No iPhone 6 charger. He has an Android. And this is where he’s dropping you off. “Where are we? Wait!”   Your phone is dead so you’re pretty much out of luck and now you don’t want to get out of the car. “I’m not there yet!” Doesn’t matter. He wants you out. He’s had it with your threats of complaints to Uber management and how vital it is that you arrive to the Sheep-In-Bleat Mixer & Sev2 Seminar before the Smart Water Oxygen-and-Red Bull bar closes down.

He opens the door. And waits. And then pulls you out and drives away.

You’re somewhere where the street signs aren’t big and shiny. And there’s no cabs around. Nothing looks familiar. Your thumb is in withdrawal. It has no button to press.  The sound of a bottle smashes the darkness and an old drunk starts singing that Chumbawumba song chorus — “…pissing the night away…PISSSING THE NIGHT AWAYAYYAYAY–YEYAYAYAY…” — and despite your plexiglass encased kidney shaped see-through cubicle on the top floor at your high end startup company — where it’s safe and there are 3 phone chargers — you’re out of your element and you have never defended yourself physically except for the time you called your sister’s 16-y.o. girlfriend “Jenny” instead of “Jen-neee” and she came at you with a wooden backscratcher shaped like a giraffe…You held your own.

But now? You’re about to piss your pants. You see people approaching from a couple blocks away. They’re different colors than you are. Their clothes seem heavy and their words are more like catcalls and laughter. Whether you know it or not, you’re about to be a victim. “Me?” Yes, you. And there’s really nothing in your “life-hack” cache that’s prepared you for such a moment.

Why? Because your phone’s dead and there’s nothing you do in your life that doesn’t rely on your spiffy $800 phone, which you fail to put in your pocket despite it being no use to you now. (See: easy snatch-candy) You want to wish it to work.  But in your head, that doesn’t compute — “I’m not a superhero…dammit!” — it’s dead and they’re approaching. You see three coming toward you, but you hear three more somewhere else.

This is a moment in which you have very few options. Running away seems a solid choice. But as you spin around, there’s someone there too. Tick-tock. They’re about a block away now and your exit strategy’s window has come and gone.


START BREATHING HEAVILY AND STOOP OVER LIKE YOURE GETTING HORRIFICALLY SICK — And not just any sick. You’re throwing up a fucking demon. One that you just ate. Medium rare. And it’s not sitting well in your evil tummy. So you GROAN and I mean GROAN like Chewbacca getting fitted for a frozen catheter. And after loosening your coat off your shoulders in a disheveling instant, you spin violently as hard as you can — and throw yourself to the ground. HARD. (Cue: Seizure via demonic possession.) 

Thrash inward so your body resembles a buckling mass more than a flailing muppet. Smash your weaker hand into the asphalt and rake your knuckles hard enough so they bleed. THIS IS NOT AN OPTON. As you THRASH, smear blood and any filth available from the ground over your face and on your chest. In the same second, stack specific words into your ongoing wailing — “WHERE IS SHE!!!! MY BABY!!!” But you don’t yell at your approaching assailants.  They don’t exist. You don’t look at them. You are in a room in hell by your own design by your lonesome.

“GIVE ME BACK MY BABY!!!” (sob) Hit yourself in the face. Repeatedly. And LAUGH like you figured it all out. “I KNOW YOU KILLED IT! I KNOW YOU KILLED IT! BUT I WANT HER BACK!!” The timbre of your voice grows deep and wounded.

IMPORTANT: LOOK at the feet of your would-be attackers. Are they moving. Standing still or retreating? If they’re moving toward you still, you ignore them. RIP OFF ANYTHING OF WORTH and quietly ditch it away from you (watch, phone — not to retrieve but to make you less attractive).PULL OFF your coat while kicking off a shoe. WRAP said shoe in coat as you stand and swaddle the shoe. THIS IS YOUR DEAD BABY. YOU’RE GOING TO BRING IT HOME NOW. If they’re still coming — and they shouldn’t be if you’re doing it right — RAGE at the dead baby (shoe). HOLD IT UP IN THE AIR AND SHAKE IT VIOLENTLY TO “WAKE UP!! YOU WERE JUST ALIVE, WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!! WAKE UP YOU STUPID DEAD BABY!”

If they’re still there, surrounding you, lunge toward each of them, holding the coat-covered “baby” in the air for them (not) to see! “MISTER?! CAN YOU SAVE MY BABY?!! I THINK I HURT IT  — BECAUSE NOW ITS DEAD!!!” Sob uncontrollably with every breath. Scream out if anyone nears you any further but KEEP ASKING THEM FOR HELP because “THEY TOLD ME THE AMBULANCE IS COMING SOON. DO YOU HEAR IT? WHO’S GOING TO SAVE MY DEAD BABY?!!!”

RUN TO YOUR LEFT, STOP, TO YOUR RIGHT. TURN AROUND TO THE NOW FREAKED OUT ASSAILANTS. LAUGH. CRY. KEEP SHAKING THE “DEAD BABY” (shoe) and they’re now more afraid of you than you ever were of them.

Nothing is scarier, harder to gauge and more confusing than crazy. But being “crazy” in single moment can save your life.

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