When chaos reigns, where do you stand? Or leap?

Hull clinger or deck leaper?

File it with questions like “vanilla or mint chocolate chip?” “Domestic or import?” and “Stock market or mattress saver?” Your answer to whether you’re the sort who clings to the hull of a sinking boat or you’re the kind of person who leaps from the deck of the boat before it goes down says a lot about your character.

It’s the sort of question one ponders when considering how to pack in the 60 seconds before your house burns down/gets flattened by a tornado/drops into a sinkhole. Do you grab your dog or your cell phone? Or do you try to find both and end up scorched/splintered/buried?

I generally think I’m pretty good about keeping my senses in an emergency.

I’m the lifeguard who saved a kid once.

I’m the tour guide who calmly aided a kid who fainted during a tour of the newspaper office while his teacher panicked unnecessarily (the child wasn’t dying — he probably should have eaten a better breakfast).

Once rear-ended in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the interstate, I calmly pulled over, exchanged details with the dipchick who hit me, calmly pulled back into traffic and caught a plane to Dallas.

I’m also the idiot who reaches to my right to secure my purse in the passenger seat when I stomp on the brakes. Really? My purse is worth saving in the event of a car accident?

I ask this question after reading a spellbinding story in the Star Tribune about a houseboat that went over a dam on the Mississippi River earlier this week (if you haven’t read it, check it out — it’s written like a play-by-play of the sinking of the Titanic if the Titanic had been a houseboat, the iceberg had been a dam and no one died).

The story includes a quote from one of the passengers: “I thought I was being so smart, grabbing my purse and keys” as the houseboat neared its demise. “I can’t believe I didn’t put my life jacket on.”

I’m probably that woman.

I’m probably the person hanging on to my purse and the hull as the ship goes down. My Beloved, on the other hand, is the guy who jumps into the swirling water without a thought to his wallet, sure he’ll catch another break.

I am thinking, too, of this analogy as I watch a company for which I formerly worked slog through a second bankruptcy. It’s clear that some of those closest to the situation — executives, employees, salespeople — jumped off the boat, maybe too soon, but with purse and respect intact. Some are pondering their next move while carefully weighing the pros and cons of the swirling water below. And some are irrationally clinging to the sinking hulk, thinking about their purse instead of the life jacket and refusing to recognize the dam looming ahead.

I was directly involved in a looming bankruptcy once, too (either it’s the companies for which I choose to work, or it’s me, not sure). My Beloved contends I waited too long to jump, but I think breaking ties when I stopped getting paychecks was reasonable (I liken this to Rose in “Titanic” — I went down with the ship but I wasn’t playing violin on the deck). People hung on without paychecks for weeks after that, believe it or not. They were the hull clingers.

So what are you? Are you the type to cling to the sinking boat because it represents security? Or are you the adventurer who leaps quickly into the deep water?

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4 responses to “When chaos reigns, where do you stand? Or leap?

  1. It’s o.k., I packed a parachute… They say hindsight is 20/20 I suppose.

  2. I’m the type that has a jump kit packed with copies of important docs, extra sets of house keys, food, and water (for humans and cats) all tucked tidily away in a duffle bag near the exit. 😦 Some might call me skiddish.

  3. Never thought about it, but I guess… deck leaper. At least if we’re talking actual ship or similar. When it comes to sinking relationships, I’m probably more prone to hang in their hoping for rescue.

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