If I die a violent death, as some fear and a few are plotting, I know that the violence will be in the thought and the action of the assassins, not in my dying.—Indira Gandhi
I was amused when scrolling through my newsfeed this morning to see a brief article with the headline: University of Houston Offers Teachers Helpful Tips For How to Not Get Murdered. Odd, I didn’t realize murdering college professors had reached such epidemic proportions. Maybe it’s just a phenomenon particular to the University of Houston, or perhaps they recently hired Miss Marple in the English department and are anticipating the inevitable. Death does seem to follow that old lady and I’m rather sure dying is not in anyone’s syllabus.
Apparently, some faculty at the University are understandably concerned about a new Texas law that allows students to carry concealed weapons in their classrooms. Among the advice given were the following “bullet” points (extra credit for the irony):
- Be careful discussing sensitive topics
- Drop certain topics from your curriculum
- Not “go there” if you sense anger
- Limit student access off hours
Now, I’m not sure exactly what “sensitive” topics might be included nor where it is one should not go if sensing anger, but I’m going to guess they might include subjects such as how incredibly stupid it is to allow guns in the classroom in the first place and the simple fact that anyone caught shooting the instructor automatically fails the course. Seriously, if this is the type of instruction we have to give the teaching staff, I’m questioning the overall quality of education one might receive at the University of Houston.
However, dying is genuinely something most of us want to avoid and, it would seem, more than a few people have difficulty with the task given that several thousand will die today, and another big bunch of people will be dying tomorrow, and the day after, and the next, and etc. So, with all sensitivity to the delicateness of such an issue set to the side and filed in the back of a drawer in an unmarked manila envelope, I would like to offer some common sense suggestions for ways in which one might avoid dying. University of Houston teachers please take notes.
- Avoid interaction with items such as bullets, knives, machetes, bombs, or other objects that might pierce one’s body in a fashion that leads to dying. Note: we’re not talking about the fashionable body modifications to your ears, nose, nipples, or other places your mother doesn’t know about. This strictly applies to those piercings that might do things like remove one’s head, severely displace one’s internal organs, or put oversized holes through vital body parts. Dying may very well be immediate should one encounter such piercings and should be avoided at all costs.
- If you live in a trailer park during a tornado, move. Growing up in Oklahoma, this was just a given. No one who had any choice lived in or even near a trailer park from March through September. In fact, the rest of the year isn’t necessarily all that safe, either. Apparently not everyone gets handed that memo, though. At least three people died in tornadoes yesterday in Louisiana and Mississippi. All three were in trailer parks. This didn’t have to happen. How does one know if there’s a danger of a tornado hitting their trailer park? There’s an easy test: is it raining? If so, move. Dying by being sucked up into a swirling cloud and then dropped just doesn’t sound painless.
- Avoid visiting places where dying seems to be a recreational activity. This includes places such as Syria, Iran, the Sudan, or South Chicago. These are places where they serve guns along with the appetizers, neighbors lob bombs at each other just for the literal hell of it, and if the bombs and bullets don’t get you the water will. Odds of surviving in these places is so low you’d have a better chance of getting a presidential candidate to convert to Islam. Stay away.
- Excessive anything is never good, and dying from excess tends to make one the target of bullying in the afterlife, or so I’m told. These are things you already know intellectually. Eating too much will kill you. Exercising too much will kill you. Mouthing off too much to your wife will kill you. One doesn’t really need to be told such things, but yet, every day, there are hundreds of people who die because they just had to have that one last piece of pie, or the last donut, or run 47 miles. Dying can come in many different forms. Be careful. Use some common sense. Step away.
- Stop smoking cigarettes. Again, you know this. You knew this when you started the dirty habit. Chances are, you ‘ve even told others not to start, and you’re always trying to quit. Stop trying. Do it. Put the damn things down. If your oral fixation is that strong, roll some bud. Having long conversations with the cat won’t kill you (though it may drive the cat nuts). Cigarettes and dying are buddies. Just stop.
- Consider a career other than suicide bomber. I’m sure I’m not the only one who questions the mental capacity of people who leave nice, warm, presumptively loving homes in order to join the so-called caliphate. I have one question for anyone considering such a move: ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY? Dying is all they do in the caliphate; they rather seem to enjoy it. Apparently, someone told these incredibly gullible people that there’s a reward for going boom. WRONG! There is no reward! There are only little tiny pieces of you scattered all over the sand. That’s it. No endless supply of Snickers bars or anything else you might have been told. If one is trying to avoid death, this is the worst line of business to consider.
- One last piece of advice: wherever you are, whatever you are doing, whoever you may be, absolutely, under no condition, should you ever, EVER piss off a United States Marine. Don’t even think about it. Just say “Yes sir (or ma’am),” do as instructed, and go on about your business.
Not having died recently, that I recall, I can’t speak from experience, but the lack of folks recovering from such incidents leads me to conclude that dying is not a great deal of fun. In case you haven’t noticed, we generally cry when people die because they’re not coming back. So, let’s all do our best to avoid dying. I know the Bible says, “… it is appointed unto man once to die … (Hebrews 9:27),” but that doesn’t mean you have to do so today. Be careful out there. We like it so much better when you’re around to annoy, er, visit with us.