By Mordechai Schmutter

I write a safety article every year during the Nine Days, and everyone thinks, “OK, so I won’t do anything dangerous.” But things can still happen, chas v’shalom, even if you’re doing something innocent. What can be more innocent than attending a birthday party, observing a baseball game, riding a motorcycle down the highway at 50 miles per hour, or going hunting with some friends? You never know when you’re going to be minding your own business and — whump! Something hits you on the head.

It’s always the head.

Our first story today comes from Philadelphia, where a woman was hit in the face with a hot dog. And no, no one’s going around slapping people with hot dogs, that I know of. This hot dog was fired out of a cannon.

And now you’re wondering, “There’s such a thing as a hot dog cannon?” This would come in handy at shul barbecues. Not to mention camp cookouts, especially if you’re trying to keep the local wildlife at bay. Though you’d probably have to toivel it first, which might get you kicked out of the keilim mikveh.

(I’m not actually sure that firing food across a crowded area is respectful for the food. But on the other hand, the way they make hot dogs isn’t particularly respectful for the food either.)

The woman wasn’t actually sitting around and minding her own business. She was at a baseball game, where the team mascot had taken to firing free hot dogs at random into the crowd. Because there’s nothing more American than sitting at a baseball game and getting hit in the face with a hot dog.

And the mascot is the ideal team employee to do this, because — speaking as someone who’s worn a camp mascot costume for a few years — there is zero visibility in those things. He probably had no idea he shot her until someone told him.

But if you’re someone like me who doesn’t follow sports or go to games, and you’re wondering what you’re missing, wonder no longer. This is what you’re missing: People shooting non-kosher hot dogs at you.

This is what they mean when they say that you should check on the kashrus of these events.

But this would be a great idea for the next siyum haShas. Or asifas ha’rabbanim. Though firing hot dogs into the stands is really only something you can do at a non-Jewish event. Otherwise, you’ll have people screaming: “No! I don’t want to be fleishig!”

As a precaution, the woman was taken to the emergency room, where doctors asked her what happened. Then, when she told them, they said, “No, really, what happened?”

See, this is why the catcher and the umpire wear masks. This is really on her, frankly. (Oy. That was the wurst.)

Our next story comes from Australia, where, according to news articles, “A motorcyclist was hit by a mattress on the highway.”

Doctor: “Where was the motorcyclist hit?”

Nurse: “On the highway.”

Doctor: “No, really, what happened?”

The mattress, which had fallen off a pickup truck, hit the cyclist at 50 miles per hour, causing him to fall off the bike … and land on the mattress.

It’s hard to blame the truck driver, though, because it’s not easy to transport a mattress. Even on a pickup truck. You’re supposed to use a flatbed.

But many of us have had to transport mattresses at some point, and the way you’re supposed to do it is you tie it to the roof of your car, then you climb in through the windows of your car because you accidentally tied the doors shut, and then, while you’re driving, you put one arm on top of the mattress just in case, so that if all your ropes give way, you’re going to be able to hold on with one arm to what it took two people to lift onto to the car. Your other option is to cram it into your car, likely by attempting to fold it in half, only for it to suddenly spring back open mid-trip and take away all your visibility. This would be really painful, though not as painful as my flatbed joke from the previous paragraph.

Moral of the story: If you’re going to get hit by an airborne object, make sure it’s a mattress. Or a bounce house.

And yes, our next story involves a bounce house. People think the worst thing that can happen in a bounce house is that you’ll fall down and everyone else will keep bouncing while you try to get up, but that’s not it. What can be safer than a bounce house, right? They’re like giant balloons!

Well, balloons fly.

This is exactly what happened at a recent birthday party in upstate New York — the bounce house blew away, dozens of feet into the air.

“Well, there goes our deposit,” they were probably thinking, after doing a quick head count of the kids.

On the one hand, this sounds like a funny story. If there’s one thing that sounds more fun than a bounce house, it’s a flying bounce house. On the other hand, it can hit things. This particular bounce house went flying through the air and hit a motorcyclist.

Just kidding. It hit the power lines. There were sparks everywhere.

Fortunately, no one was in the bounce house. Everyone was off eating birthday cake at the time.

Moral of the story: Cake saves lives. Yes, it makes you heavier, but heavier people don’t blow away.

Another moral, of course, is that you have to anchor your bounce house. It’s a big balloon. This goes double for giant inflatable ducks. In April, there was a 20-foot duck bouncing around the streets of Des Moines, Iowa. This duck, named Quacky, had blown away from some kind of promotional event. Quacky is an ironic name, obviously, because inflatable ducks don’t make noise. Unless they hit the power lines.

What do you even say if you see a 20-foot duck bouncing down the street?

Duck!

“Where?”

Whump.

And this kind of thing has happened more than once. The previous month, for example, a giant inflatable duck went missing from an ocean-swimming competition in Australia.

“How do you lose a giant inflatable duck?” you’re wondering. “Just ask around!”

“Sir, have you seen our giant inflatable duck?”

“What did it look like?”

The duck went missing a week before the competition, when organizers were trying to tie it down, and it got away and blew out into the Indian Ocean.

“There goes our deposit.”

Anyway, the swimming club put up posters all over Western Australia, offering a reward for whoever could offer information that would lead to the return of their duck, which they’d named Daphne.

Daphne. You want to name your giant duck in case it gets mixed up with another giant duck that’s gotten lost.

“Well our duck answers to Daphne.”

“It answers?”

The duck was missing for a week, with reports coming in from all over Australia of people claiming to have seen it, including one claim from some fishermen about 300 miles away.

It turns out that someone had found it on the ocean about an hour after it had broken free, 20 miles away. He towed it around behind his boat for a while, trying to find the owners, and then he deflated it and put it in his garage until he saw the posters everywhere. I guess he didn’t know that anyone was looking for it. I don’t know hilchos yiush on the subject, or what the siman is for giant ducks.

But then what did those fishermen see 300 miles away, right?

It was probably another giant duck.

They should have figured, because it wasn’t answering to Daphne.

Our next story comes from Maryland, where a group of men was out hunting geese, when, unsurprisingly, disaster happened. Disasters happen on hunting trips all the time. Just recently, a 73-year-old man was out fishing off the coast of Australia when a nine-foot shark jumped into his boat and landed on him.

I should point out that this is our third story from Australia.

But these guys were hunting geese near a river, so they were relatively safe from sharks. Anyway, one of the hunters fired at a flock of geese overhead, and I bet you can guess what happened next. Well, obviously—the geese were over their heads. What do you think happened?

Yes. A goose fell out of the sky and knocked one of the hunters unconscious. His friends rushed him to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a goose bump.

A lot of people have problems with hunting, because the hunters are armed with guns, and what do the animals have? I mean, sharks have teeth, and they can fly, apparently, but geese, for example — what do they have? And the answer is: gravity. When you shoot a goose that’s flying, the goose doesn’t stay up there.

When asked about the incident, police said, “He’s lucky he wasn’t hunting alone.” Well, if he were alone, he wouldn’t have gotten knocked out. In fact, I think the most dangerous way to hunt is in groups. Especially when you’re all making duck noises.

Duck!

“I thought we’re hunting gee — whump.” 

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of six books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to MSchmutter@gmail.com

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