by Gail P. (TinkerPirate)
OMG! OMG!! OMG!!! My heart is racing. I can barely breathe. I have this urge to run around waving my arms shrieking like a little girl…a wild woman…a banshee…a…a…I don’t know what except that it wouldn’t be pretty! OHNO! OHNO!! OHNO!!! It’s happening. AND, it ISN’T pretty….but, ya know, it’s perfectly OK. It’s International PANIC Day!
Why? International Panic Day? Well, I did a little research and nobody knows. Nobody knows who created it or why. But who cares? I sure don’t. However, I did learn some very interesting things about panic and some “entertaining” suggestions about how to celebrate the holiday.
According to Wikipedia (the ultimate source of all information – useful or not, factual or not), panic is “a sudden sensation of fear which is so strong as to dominate or prevent reason and logical thinking, replacing it with overwhelming feelings of anxiety and frantic agitation consistent with an animalistic fight-or-flight reaction. Panic may occur singularly in individuals or manifest suddenly in large groups as mass panic (closely related to herd behavior)”. I think we have all experienced this. The time you lost sight of your toddler granddaughter in the mall (not that I ever did that, but I’ve heard that it can be pretty scary) or when you realized that you just got everybody else ready for the accreditation survey, but forgot to get your section done (not that I ever did that, but I see how it would be panic time) or you show up to work completely nekkid (oh, wait, that was a dream, right?). These are all “panic” of the individual variety and thankfully can usually be easily rectified with a few deep breaths or a few minutes in the closet whispering “go away to my happy place…go away to my happy place…go away to my happy place”.
What about panic of the group variety? Well, that’s much more difficult to manage. There isn’t a closet big enough to house all the individual happy places for a crowd. The only thing you can do if you are in a mass panic is place your body firmly against the nearest wall and wait for the dust to settle.
But, not all mass panics happen in small places. Probably the most famous episode of mass panic occurred Halloween Eve 1938, when Orson Welles’ radio drama convinced much of America that Martians were invading the eastern seaboard. There were reports of people fleeing from their homes into the countryside to hide. There were people hiding in basements and calling the local police to report the smell of poison gas in the air. We might think that was silly, but to set some context, many listeners only heard part of the broadcast (obviously NOT the Martian-part) and the nation was already full of anxiety about an impeding war in Europe. But, in the aftermath, there was a hint of the familiar to us sitting comfortably in the 21st century…..yes, dear PBSers, people sued…sued for mental anguish and sued for personal injury. I couldn’t find out how many suits were filed, but did learn that all but one were dismissed – a man sued for a pair of size 9B black men’s shoes. Apparently, he spent the money he was saving for said shoes to escape the Martians. And, Orson Welles himself said he should be paid.
Which leads me to the silliness of the day…a day to celebrate panic? What can we do? What is a suitable activity? I don’t believe a backyard BBQ is appropriate…too easy to panic about getting food poisoning from the potato salad. I also don’t think a beach party is appropriate…too easy to panic about shark attacks or flesh eating bacteria in the water. With the 2 most common ways of celebrating holidays off the table, you may want to consider some of these activities I found on the internet. (DISCLAIMER – If you decide to do any of these, YOU and only YOU are responsible for the outcome. Neither PBS or I will assume any responsibility for your stupidness. Clear?)
- Type everything in CAPS so people will know you are upset about something, but don’t tell them what
- Stuff the suggestion box at work with notes saying you suggest a padded, sound-proof room in which to flee when you feel panicy and just need a place to run around waving your hands pulling your hair with alternating shrieking and sobbing so as not to disturb the other employees
- Steal the water cooler and send a ransom note saying it will not be returned until “things” change
- Organize a flash mob of people demanding all of their money out of their accounts at the local BIG bank
- Re-label the ESC key on all the computers at work with the word PANIC
- Run out of your office screaming, then come back in a little while and act as if nothing has happened
- Stand outside the local zoo and ask people coming out if the lion that escaped has been caught
Or maybe you just want to sit down with a good book. These are currently available on PBS….and there is something for pretty much everyone….so DON’T panic!
The Panic Years by Doree Lewak
Panic Room James Ellison (Adapter), David Koepp
Panic X Panic 1 by Mika Kawamura