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  • Robert Farago

It's The Bus You Don't See That Kills You

How to prepare for the unexpected

The British expression “it’s the bus you don’t see that kills you” began life in 1973 as the tough-talking tag-line in a British public safety campaign.

Her Majesty’s Government told pedestrians to be aware that they needed to be more aware. Even when they’re minding their own business, walking to the Tottenham Court tube station, or sitting in a pub having a quiet pint, apparently.

These days, Brits use the invisible killer bus expression as a general warning: don’t get tunnel vision. Don’t focus too heavily on known dangers.

It’s the polar opposite of the more common adage “Cheer up sunshine, it might never happen!” Because it probably will.

History Is Our Guide/Inspiration

What Jew living in Berlin in the roaring 20’s imagined the Holocaust? What 21st century American restauranteur saw COVID closure coming? Who could have predicted Blade Runner 2049 would render viewers comatose?

When the media warns you about a future existential threat – whether it’s killer AI, global cooling (once a big thing) or Donald Trump as fascist dictator – it’s best to see the threat from an improv performer’s perspective. Yes, and?

Keeping the killer invisible bus adage in mind keeps you prepared. Well, as prepared as you can be. How can you plan for the unforeseen (not referring to the abandoned Clint Eastwood sequel)?

By possessing some general habits/skills you can apply to a variety of threats that are out there, somewhere.

1. Learn Close Quarter Combat Skills

The world is full of assholes, criminals and crazy people. And that’s just my book club. Out on the streets, you never know when you may need to defend yourself from violence with violence.

To all y’all who have trained to meet the challenge of a chance encounter with someone who wants to beat, rape, stab or shoot you – and not necessarily in that order – bien pour vous!

If you don’t have hand-to-hand combat skills, to paraphrase Woody, GET SOME! Make that knee-to-balls skills. Elbow-to-head? Fist-to-throat? That sort of thing.

For those who don’t have time to color-up a belt, I highly recommend the not-so-gentle art of Krav Maga.

Krav is so simple the Israelis teach it to little old ladies. After even a couple of classes, you’ll have some chance fighting back when push comes to shove you in front of the bus you didn’t see coming.

2. Be Healthy!

The never-misleading, freedom-loving folks at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reckon over 40 percent of adults in the U.S. are clinically obese. They risk sudden heart attack, diabetes, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, cancer and mental illness. Not to mention death by COVID.

I know what you’re thinking: none of that should come as a surprise to fat folks. Yeah it does. How many overweight folks expect their body weight to kill or hobble them? It’s denial on a plate, mate. Right until it isn’t.

News flash: even slim-and-trim Americans face uh-oh health issues associated with sweetened beverages, packaged snacks, frozen meals, instant noodles, pastries and processed meat. Adding digestive issues, depression and anxiety to the aforementioned litany.

Doing some form of regular exercise and eating healthy will keep the big old bus you don’t see circling around the block. For a while, anyway.

3. Save Money!

Making contact with the bus you didn’t see may not be fatal or physically debilitating, but odds are it’ll be expensive.

Gladiators ready? According to a Forbes 2024 survey, 78 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck (a Bidenomics six percent increase from 2023).

The Federal Reserve's 2020 Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households report reveals that more than a third of Americans couldn't afford to cover a $400 emergency without borrowing money or selling assets.

Yes, we can bitch about the capitalist inequities, rage at the politics of our social safety net, curse consumerism and kvetch about the evils of all-too-easy credit. Why bother?

If you want to be ready for unexpected “challenges,” stash some liquid funds somewhere safe.

Do Worry, Be Happy!

It’s also good to master a skill that will be marketable if/when the world goes to hell in a hand basket. If you want to learn hypnosis let me know.

Not that I expect anyone to take me up on the offer. Or think that teaching on-the-spot brainwashing won’t get me in trouble somehow. If you know what I mean. Even if I don’t.



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