Thursday, August 8, 2013

Be Bear Aware!

When we arrived in Kodiak, I noticed pretty quickly some of the differences between living up here and living in the lower 48.  Ya like that?  I'm already busting out with "the lower 48" like I can even say that with any authority.  But, one thing that stood out is the whole dumpster situation.  For one thing, they have locks on them up here.  

Locks on a dumpster?  Yep.  To keep the bears out.  Some of the locks are on the intricate side.  I'm not saying they have combinations or anything - a la high school gym lockers - but there are definitely some that have an "insert this pin in this groove and turn" type of scenarios.  It makes me imagine the bears having strategy sessions to figure out how to crack the code to the forbidden food source.  

What I think is funny, and consequently started snapping some pictures of as I discovered different versions, is the inevitable "Be Bear Aware" signs on all of the dumpsters.  They crack me up.  Some of them are very serious, like pretty much every one I've seen on the base.  Case in point:

Be Bear Aware, dammit!
 It's stark, no nonsense, and to the point.  Just the fact that they use the word "refuse" makes me chuckle.  It's just so military.  I laugh now, but I'm sure I won't be laughing if I ever have an encounter of the bear kind at some point.  But, I can't say they didn't have a sign to warn me.

As we bee-bopped around the island, I started to notice that some of the other dumpsters in town had signs too, but they were much more entertaining.  And almost whimsical compared to the strictly informative and deadly serious ones I'd become used to on the base.  I think this one is my favorite:

C'mon, you've got to love this one.  It's like the trash is his crack, and the bear NEEDS a fix.  Look at his eyes. - He's completely on the edge and the only way down is through the illicit garbage.  If his bear-parents aren't careful, he's going to steal the flat screen and sell it on the street to feed his taboo habit.

I like the cartoons because they're more light-hearted than the "words only, no pictures" variety.  Still gets the message across, but with a little more flair.  Kind of takes your mind off the fact that there's a real potential for an encounter.  Who wants to fixate on the probability of severe bodily injury - or at the very least - getting the crap scared out of you, when you're just trying to throw away some dog poop?  I'd rather giggle at poorly drawn bear caricatures.  Real world...psht.

This next one is the only other type I've seen in the whole bear awareness campaign Kodiak's got going on:

Whoever designs the cartoons might want look a little closer at a bear.  I get that they're trying to go for a tail there, but I think they missed the mark.  Last time I checked, bears didn't have pointy asses.

I'm also pretty sure this bear might be in some sort of fish stupor.  His tongue is hanging out, and he kind of looks like he's stumbling along as if the garbage can is his own personal rascal.  He might just fall down if someone takes away that trash can.  Either that, or he's not the sharpest bear in the cave.  Slack jawed, glassy eyed - he's obviously the stooge of the whole garbage stealing operation.  He's the bear lackey of the scam if I've ever seen one.  Patsy the Bear! 

I'm constantly on the lookout for new versions of the "Be Bear Aware" dumpster signs.  I'm a little disappointed I've only seen these three.  That's not nearly enough!  They're way too fun to make up stories about to only have three kinds.  

I  make light of the whole "we live in bear country" scenario, but if I'm ever in any situation involving a bear, you can bet your ass I'm not getting mauled!  I heard a local say that the motto in Alaska is, "I don't have to run that fast, I just have to run faster than you."  Done.

Ta-ta for now.

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