Worst Case Scenario

July 20, 2013

Hazel’s House is an online clothing store based in New Zealand.  When she’s not attempting to source exclusive brands at non-exclusive prices, Hazel sometimes writes blog posts…

There are times when I have been labeled a pessimist. I don’t feel like I’m overly pessimistic, but there are times when I inadvertantly highlight the worst case scenario. After a lot of soul searching, I realised that there is someone I can blame for this: my mum.

At the time we didn’t really notice, but growing up mum always thought of the worst case scenario. Of course we got all the usual threats: if you get out of bed the boogey man will get you (quite obviously different to the boogie man); if you don’t brush your teeth they’ll fall out; if you watch too much TV you’ll get square eyes; if you go outside with wet hair you’ll catch a chill; if the wind changes when you’re pulling a face, your face will stay that way; if you don’t do your homework you’ll get held back a year. Lucky for us, we were born to a mum that liked to step it up a notch…

In the winter months, we had to walk the long way around the table (after being excused of course) to the kitchen. We had to walk sideways up the hallway, with our backs pressed against the wall. There was a genuine danger you see: the fire. If we walked, jogged, skipped, ran or sprinted past the fire, it was highly likely that we would trip, fall and burn our faces off. We would have no skin on our face, or hands, no nose, eyes or ears and no one at school would want to be our friend.

We weren’t allowed to ride our bikes on the road – footpath only. When the footpath bylaw came in, and my wheel measurement was over the threshold, I had a piece of paper in my school bag with dad’s phone number on it, so that if I was asked to get off the footpath by the local constabulary, I would tell them to call my dad and he would tell them one thing for free: that his daughter was exempt from the new bullsh*t bylaw. Mum insisted that we ride on the footpath, because the main road had trucks on it. “Those trucks, they suck you underneath them and then all 18 wheels will roll over your head. You’ll survive of course, but you’ll be a vegetable, in a wheelchair, and then you’ll have to go live in a home, cos ain’t no one got time for dat.”

As if riding on the footpath wasn’t embarrassing enough, we were forbidden from riding across the bridge at all. We had to get off our bikes and walk them across the bridge. On the footpath of course. “That’s because the footpath on the bridge is narrow, and your handlebars will get caught, you’ll be flicked over the railing and into the path of an oncoming car, you’ll be dragged across the bridge, under the car, and you’ll be a vegetable, in a wheelchair…you know the rest.” One day, we were stuck in a traffic jam trying to get onto the bridge, whaddya know, some old man had been hit from behind on his 10 speed, and had fallen off. He was lying motionless on the road. “See, that’s what will happen if you ride your bike on the bridge girls. Let that be a lesson to you both.”

Every time we touched a cat, anyone’s cat, we had to wash our hands. We’ve always had at least two cats, that’s a lot of hand washing. Hand washing after cat touching is incredibly important. “That’s because cats have worms, and their eggs get under your fingernails, and then when you eat, you eat the eggs. The eggs hatch and before you know if you’ve got a whole colony of worms living in your gut. Do you want lots of worms in your gut? Wriggling around in there? Coming out your mouth and out your bottom? Well, wash your hands then.”

We were never allowed to go barefoot, it was inevitable that if you were barefoot you would stand on a bee, a piece of glass, AND a dog poo. Closed toe shoes were encouraged, if they’d made steel caps for children in those days, we would no doubt have had a pair each. Closed toe shoes were compulsory if dad was mowing the lawn, even if he was mowing out the back, and we were out the front. We weren’t allowed within 10 metres of the mower, because we would definitely lose a minimum of three toes. One day mum stumbled across a pic of a man who’d been mowing the lawns in jandals, and lost 80% of his toes. She couldn’t have found a better illustration if she’d photoshopped it herself. Closed in shoes were also required on an escalator, if you wore jandals or sandals, or a combination of both.  “The flapping soul will get caught and you’ll lose a toe if you’re lucky, if it’s not your day you might lose a whole foot.”

Of course stanger danger was taken to the extreme. Under no circumstances were you to speak to any strangers, in particular any strange men. “If you get in a car with a strange man he will abduct you, strangle you, cut you up into pieces and throw you into the Waikato River. The eels will eat you and no one will ever know what happened to you.”

It is expected that parents will dissuade you from drinking or doing drugs. Our mum was adamant that if we ever did either we would: a) Die; b) End up with brain damage; c) Become addicted to the point of dependence and end up on the streets begging for money. Or crack. Or both.

So, knowing this about my ma, one can only imagine the words of encouragement as each new delivery arrives. “Are you going to be able to sell ALL that stuff?” she asks me as each box is opened. “Gosh, I sure hope so” I reply. “What are you going to do with ALL of it if it doesn’t sell?” is the next line of the script. While I am prone to a bit of weight fluctuation, not even I can claim that all the items, in sizes 6 through 16, can be added to my personal collection. Worst case scenario: all items end up on Trade Me – BNWT, stock from a failed online store, everything must go, $1 reserve. Please encourage your children to Buy Now for $3.75 and then reply to my 7th email advising me that you’re sorry, but you didn’t know that your daughter had won my auction, despite at least three emails from Trade Me, and seven from me. That would be the worst.

No one’s gonna lose their facial features, or their toes. No one will end up drug addicted and homeless. No one will be wheelchair bound, nor will anyone end up with an incurable case of parasites. Hopefully no one will end up abducted, dismembered and fed to the native fish species. So if the worst that can happen is that I end up with a sad face feedback on Trade Me for telling someone to get effed after refusing to pay for an auction won at 1/20 of the wholesale price, then I can live with that.

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