Walking Sticks and Death by Selfie

 

“Get up off your butt and stop sleeping! I’m tired of doing nothing.”  In such dulcet tones did I receive the proclamation of She Who Must Be Obeyed*.   (*from Rumpole of the Bailey by John Mortimer.)

I, in turn, responded in my most Rumpolean manner by stating: “Huh? What? But, my dear, I am not ‘doing nothing.’  I am, in fact, emulating the habits of my good friend the Koala Bear.”  Koala Bears sleep, on average, 22 hours a day and spend the remaining time eating Eucalyptus leaves.  I create something similar by putting Eucalyptus leaves in my drinks.

“Emulating Koala Bears. Nonsense.  We are going to do something by visiting the National Parks.”

“Oh wonderful. Uh, wait… by National Parks, you mean outdoors and hikes and uh, more hikes.”

“Yes, exactly. Now get up because we are on our way.”

Thus began our trip to some of the more storied National Parks of the western United States – Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, and the Petrified Forest. Despite the exacting toll on my feet and the interruption of my Koala Bear studies, it was a very pleasant trip and allowed me to observe some unnatural wonders among the wonders of our National Parks.

The first is the use of the walking stick.  It seems that nowadays no visit to a National Park is complete without the use of one.  My own unscientific observations have concluded that there are only three categories of people who use walking sticks:

1. Dudes who look cool with walking sticks.

Walking stick1   Walking stick2   Walking stick3

2.  People with disabilities or injuries who need the aid of a walking stick.

3.  Everyone else.

Only categories 1 and 2 should use walking sticks. Unfortunately, category 3 predominates in National Parks.  Actually, the device should be called a carrying stick because most users are carrying rather using their walking sticks.  I think that the organizers of National Park tours highly recommend a walking stick as de rigueur for the upcoming visit and then just happen to have them available at highly inflated prices.

Those who actually use walking sticks use modern ones in tandem like ski poles and have determined that their use entitles them to the right of way on any park path. Failure to yield will result in being pushed aside or poked with the sharp ends of the stick.  I have reserved a new ring in hell for category 3 users of walking sticks.

My other observation is the occurrence of the ubiquitous selfie and selfie stick. Most of the people who take selfies are instant candidates for a Darwin Award.  For the uninitiated, Darwin Awards are given to those individuals who improve the human gene pool by eliminating themselves from it.  A double Darwin Award was given in 2014 to two men in Kenya who were capturing selfies with a wild elephant when they were trampled to death by the irate pachyderm who proceeded to bury the corpses with brush. The two men were actually touching the elephant’s face while taking the photos.

Similar Darwin Award candidates inhabit our National Parks. The idea is to get a picture of yourself overlooking as close as possible a treacherous chasm, cliff, overhang or precipitous drop.  While endangering themselves, and often unsuspecting visitors nearby, the selfie taker fails to understand some basic rules of photography.  First, you are taking up most of the picture so no one really sees the natural wonder to which you are adding yourself.  Second, most selfie pictures can be composed at a safe distance from the dangerous perch or drop off with the same result and no requirement to jeopardize yourself.  But where is the fun in being practical?  Most selfie takers get an “A” for enthusiasm and an “F” for practicality.

Thankfully, the Darwin gene pool remained unaltered, my sore feet recovered, and I was able to return to my study of Koala Bear sleeping habits.

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14 responses to “Walking Sticks and Death by Selfie

  1. Any and all references to Darwin Awards always a plus. … Have you thought about writing reviews for walking sticks?

  2. Hmm, none of those national parks sound like a natural habitat for a koala bear. Lucky you got out when you did. 😉 And I have to agree with you about the selfies – the scenic wonders of the world are much improved by the absence of my face in the photo.

  3. Yes – what’s with the walking sticks? And it’s this “I’m a serious hiker/walker so get out of my way” attitude that seems to go with it.

  4. I haven’t noticed many walking sticks around, but I’ve noticed plenty of selfie sticks. Almost got whacked by two of them this summer. I just hope they don’t make one for an iPad. Seeing people take pictures with their iPads is odd enough. Having a long stick attached to it would doom us for sure.

  5. Congrats, Curmie, on surviving the wild menagerie of the National Parks! Oh, and the animals too. 😉

  6. I simply do not understand the concept of ‘selfies’. If you feel you ‘must’ take a photo of yourself at some famous location or venue to prove you were actually there (although you could also Photoshop yourself on top of Mount Everest or wherever, and no one would know the difference), then take ONE and leave it at that. Who wants to see a dozen (or, often, more) photos of you doing stupid things in dangerous places? (and, let’s face it, most people aren’t all that photogenic, so why do they think anyone wants to see many, many picture of them on their holidays?!?!?) Like you, I wish selfie-takers would all fall off a cliff or get eaten by a bear (or stomped by an elephant – kudos to the animal for having the wherewithal to take those two out!)

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