We spent many of our family summers on a boat of some sort as I grew up and we all heard, in detail, about emergency procedures and our important roles, should we be instructed to go into action.
My dad had been in the Royal Canadian Air Force so he knew how to train a “crew” properly and he started with our first boat. The emergency stuff sounded like fun, actually, and I, for one, awaited it (whatever “it” was — we were never told) with anticipation. On the way back cross the Georgia Strait late one afternoon when we were very young, we had a chance to practice, for real. We heard a loud, deep thud against the hull, the sound of one engine protesting and then an even louder exclamation of “d__n” from the bridge. Swearing in any form was not acceptable in my family so my mom sprang into action immediately to “protect” us from such expletives. We were quickly hustled into the galley and told, with urgency, to “stay put — Dad is just upset,” When we clammered to know what was happening, she muttered something about this being an emergency and told us to stay out of the way for a while. Then, out she went to help Dad. We looked at each other, recognizing immediately the word “emergency” and we knew what to do. My sister, in particular, was struck by the situation and jumped right into the emergency food cabinet we had been shown, opening every single jar, can and container she could see. It was, after all, an emergency. Mom came back to see my sister sitting in the middle of the galley floor, eating bits of all the food around her — jam, peanut butter, cereal, beans, crackers, canned tomatoes, pickles and on and on. It was quite a sight and Mom just stared in disbelief, trying to fit what she was seeing with my sister’s proud and sticky grin.
My sister had heard the magic word “emergency” and had activated what she knew was part of the scenario — emergency food! So, while my dad and the boat’s engines continued with a quiet tirade and a whole set of “unheard” new words, we ate. We couldn’t let the food go bad — yum!
Colleen Crossley is a columnist for the Tribune.
Mayor Kerry Cook’s column is unavailable this week.