When I was a small child, my family lived in a Louisiana swamp. The swamp is a dangerous place, what with the snakes and alligators. It’s important that a person living there knows how to fend for and protect themselves. They must also know how to navigate the land and waterways. In my family, this information is passed down from generation to generation. My father was very serious about this responsibility.
I can remember him teaching us about guns and gun safety at a very early age. He would often take us into the woods. Today people would call it hiking. For us it was simply a part of our daily lives. During our excursions, my father would point out a plant, tell us the name. Then he would tell us if it was safe to eat or touch. He would do the same with insects and animals. As a small child, I knew the names of all the plants, insects, and animals in my area. He also taught us to farm and hunt.
Hunting requires more than just pointing a gun and shooting it. You must first track your food. My father taught us to look for animal tracks and analyze their trails. As a child, I could tell you what kind of track I saw and about how old it was. I could also tell you have often a trail was traveled and why (i.e. for food or / water). My father taught us about kill shots. To do this we had to know anatomy and physiology. I received my first anatomy lesson from my father at age three. Another important skill he taught me was stealth.
Stealth is important when traveling through the woods. You must be very quiet so as not to startle animals. If you startled your prey, you would go hungry. If you startled a dangerous animal, they could become frightened and hurt you. I can remember my father showing me how to place my feet so as not to make noise. I wanted my father to be proud of me, so I practiced this style of walking often.
Fast forward forty years. I’m an adult and I make little to no noise when I walk. My kids call me a ninja, because I was always surprising them when I entered a room. They would never hear me coming. As a parent, this skill of stealth came in very handy. I also use this skill in the work place. I work nights in a hospital, so I try to be very quiet so as not to wake my patients.
However, I have to be careful with this “superpower”, especially at work. I accidentally frighten people on a regular basis. I’ll walk into a room or elevator with them and they don’t know I’m there until they turn around. There was this one time, I walked into a patient’s open doorway to find myself standing behind an armed police officer. The patient was in police custody and the officer was “guarding” him. I remember seeing this huge pistol in the officer’s utility belt just mere inches from me. There must have been this “Holy Cow” look on my face, because the prisoner was trying very hard not to laugh. I was trying very hard not to startle the ARMED police officer. The police officer was obliviously staring intently at the television, his back to the door. I held my breathe and quietly backed out of the room and knocked on the door. The police officer turned to the door and I introduced myself. The prisoner was laughing, I breathed a sigh of relief that I didn’t get shot, and the police officer was still oblivious. I didn’t say anything to the officer. I don’t know if the prisoner did. But here is the moral of this story:
If you are ever guarding a prisoner, don’t stand with your back to the door! You never know when a ninja might walk up behind you.