Sure, I’ve fantasized about it.
There I am, driving down a darkly-lit mountain road, and as I come around the twisting corner I notice a car halfway off the embankment, having crashed through the guardrail. I quickly pull over, jump out of my car and run to you where I risk life and limb to reach out and pull you back from the chasm that would have claimed your life. I rescue you, you embrace me, and the news reports it as so.
Sadly, though — if it really happened I probably wouldn’t save you if your car was hanging off an embankment.
In the fantasy, I don’t put too much thought into the fulcrum your automobile has created on the wet, crumbly earth. I don’t worry about insurance issues, my bad knees (which would obviously bear the brunt of your weight), the rusty sharp edges of your mangled car, whether or not there’s more than one person in that car (often people and cars that shoot through the guardrails are piloted by more than one person) and a variety of unwanted drama that would obviously come out of me saving you, the whole news thing, and really do I need all that unwanted press?
But above all, what the hell am I doing driving around on some twisty, dark mountain road in the middle of nowhere?
First and foremost, I don’t camp. I’m not a camper. I don’t like going to the bathroom in the wilderness, I don’t like cooking powdered eggs on Coleman portable stoves and I hate the feeling of waking up in a sleeping bag, on the hard ground, in a cold tent. I just don’t. So I’m definitely not going to be driving up some twisty mountain road in the first place because I’d never be caught dead camping.
On top of that, I’m not a mountain climber or a sightseer. I don’t have any desire to go hiking in the middle of the day or for a weekend retreat. I’m not going to get myself sent to one of those leadership challenge courses or volunteer as a camp counselor at one of those “kids less fortunate” kind of “get out of the urban jungle and into the real jungle” kind of things that take place on the side of a sheer mountaintop. I also would never get caught dead driving around alone up some twisty mountain road because I’ve seen The Vanishing and I know that there are people out there like Jeff Bridges waiting at gas station rest stops who just want to shove chloroform in my mouth and bury me at the first chance they get.
So, yeah — I wouldn’t be driving up any mountain road.
Now that we’ve established that, the potential for me to be driving up some mountain road and come across you and your car hanging off a cliff, teetering on the edge — well, it’s probably pretty unrealistic. And with that being the case, the reality of me actually having to be put in a position where I would have to decide whether or not to save your life, well…is pretty slim.
But. If it did happen. I probably wouldn’t save you.
Some people hear my argument about never being put in a situation like this and they say, well OK, what if you were hanging out on the top roof of your office building and some guy had been standing on the edge thinking about killing himself, changed his mind, but then slipped and fell and was hanging on by one hand? Would you save him then?
Well, first of all — I don’t work in an office building. Second of all, you all know very well that those rooftop doors are always locked from the inside. So the last thing I’m ever going to do is go up to some rooftop just to hang out or smoke a cigarette (which I don’t do) to put myself in a position where I would come across some guy hanging on for dear life by one hand. It just wouldn’t happen. Same goes for someone hanging onto the edge of a girder (I don’t do construction) or having slipped and fallen into some big vat of taffy in a candy manufacturing plant (which I would also never find myself in since the Oakland, California Jelly Belly Factory Visit Incident of ’84).
But I’m not talking about people hanging off the sides of buildings, here. I’m talking about cars, embankments, chasms, teetering on the edge, fulcrum-stuff and rusty and sharpened edges of guardrail-smashing automobiles.
Which, faced with such facts, I still wouldn’t save you at all.
Know that this has nothing to do with you, your car, your potentially great promotion that you were on the way to claiming when you were picking your nose and not looking at the road thus smashing through the guardrail and over the edge of the cliff, or anything else.
Look, it’s me. It’s not you.
Have some faith in that fact, okay?