A Bear Is Nearby
Someone saw a bear cross the road near my office building. This is the best thing that could possibly have happened to me today.
I work in an office building in Greensboro, and this morning, someone saw a bear crossing the road in front of it. This is the best thing that could possibly have happened to me today. A bear is nearby!
The bear was first spotted last night up in Stokesdale, then Summerfield, and someone saw it this morning crossing Elm Street up by Lake Jeannette. Around eight this morning, a kindergarten teacher saw it behind her school a few miles west of downtown Greensboro, near my office, and warned parents dropping off their kids. But nobody warned them that this bear might soon be clawing at something else. Hearts.
Animal control has been ordered to look for the bear. If they see it, they are supposed to just watch it. Well, lucky them. Who doesn’t want to go watch a bear all day long? I got to do that just once, at a public campsite in West Virginia. A bunch of drunk Ohio State fraternity brothers stayed up all night drinking and Funyuning and annoying the hell out of us. Around 3 a.m., a bear arrived and tore apart their camp, because they’d strewn food about with the carefree abandon of a reckless toddler. The bear ripped through bags of food and munched on trash, and drove the still-drunk bros out into the cold night, where all they could do was watch the bear slash through all of their tents and equipment. After the bear left, the bros cleaned everything up, swearing and grunting and still in an alcoholic haze, and after everything was back to normal, the sun came up and the guys left camp to go whitewater rafting. An hour later, the bear came back and destroyed everything for a second time.
Fantastic, I thought.
I know what you’re thinking. A bear? In a city? What? I know! Five years ago, there was another bear in Greensboro, who got his own Facebook page and Twitter account, which were maintained for an entire week! Sure, it was funny, although there were moments of stark truth:
But today, people are happy. The bear is back! They can hardly bear it!
Sadly, because this is a small media market, there is no smothering coverage of the bear. No news helicopter to search for it. No dragnet of cameras to find it. No multitudes of Instagrammers and Snapchatters to document it. There were no updates on the bear for eight hours. Eight! The media, man. SMDH. And don’t try to just pass off any picture of a bear as THE bear:
I decided that I would take my chances in the wild, and walk to lunch. Don’t bring honey, my co-workers said. Honey! Ha! Why would I? I’m not stupid. There’s a bear out there.
The police officers in the Chipotle had not seen the bear. Outside, people were just walking around, carefree, bear unaware. A man at a bus stop across the street shouted loudly into his phone. Do you not understand? I thought. THE BEAR CAN HEAR YOU!
A colleague pulled up in a Subaru as I was leaving. “You walked here?” he asked, incredulously.
“Watch out for the bear.”
I decided to actively look for the bear from the safety of my car. Last I saw, it was heading east. My premise, that I would actually see it, was incredibly stupid, because bears do not follow a linear path like a hobo shuffling down a railroad track. Also, black bears are hard to see. They blend in to their surroundings because c’mon. Bears aren’t stupid.
What would I do if I saw the bear? Six years ago, before I was married, I was invited to an engagement party, and was asked to write some marriage advice on to a note card. I did not have any marriage experience, so I decided to write everything I knew about a different topic:
Also, years ago, a man at a breakfast counter told me that he once repelled a bear by clanging a pot and pan together. Then he looked the bear directly in the eye and said, quietly, “Go.” This man had a long unkempt beard, and he was clear that the soft bear whispering was just as important as the loud-ass noise he made with his cookware. Whatever. I never saw him again. Bear probably got him.
In any event, that advice is probably out of date, so to freshen up, I looked for a video, and this was the top result on YouTube:
The tl;dr version: Yell “ahhhhh” while flailing your arms, then crumple to the ground.
I did not have to use this training after all. I drove past the school, and turned left into a neighborhood. It was garbage day. That’s promising, I thought. But the animal had vanished without a trace. No cans had been overturned. A man weedwhacked without abandon. Kids played basketball at a nearby park, dangerously close to the woods. Life had returned to normal.
So, no. I did not see the bear. Or any bear. Instead, I pointed my car back toward the office, driving slowly down the streets of Greensboro, still hoping against hope that I’d see something special. Something real. Something… bear. I was sad. And in that moment, as I stared out my open window, scanning the spaces between houses and trees, trying to see if I could spot a bear, a sobering thought came to me: Is this really a good use of my time?
It was a bear-y good use of my time. Bears love puns.