On my personal Facebook page, I informed everyone of my adventure involving an incident where I got hung up on our exterior door handle. Unfortunately, to all of the woodland creatures surrounding our home, pant removal was necessary to escape the 2014 West Virginia ‘polar vortex’ and get back inside to my horrified children. I jokingly commented on said post that this was not the first time I have had to remove my pants to escape a dangerous situation. I felt compelled to share another incident.
Let me preface this by saying that I don’t see myself as having any sort of sex appeal. I’m happily married, and I certainly don’t think you’d want to conjure up any images of me pantless. But being a fan of Monty Python, Dumb and Dumber, and other slapstick comedies, I just can’t pass up a drop-your-drawers kind of joke.
Rob and I left our beloved state for a few years due to the job market. I was looking to ‘get my feet wet’ in the field of marine biology near our Hampton Roads, Virginia home at the time. I was able to work with some great organizations, one of them being the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. My job there was to head up an Oyster Shell Recycling program. We gathered up the shells from local restaurants, bagged them, set them with baby oysters (spat) through a process called ‘spat on shell’, and then turned the shells overboard onto man-made reefs. The great thing about oysters (aside from how wonderful they taste) is that they are nature’s best filter. At one time, there were so many oysters in the Bay that ships had a hard time navigating around the reefs. Also, the waters used to be a LOT clearer than they are today. Overfishing and poor planning on behalf of our ancesters resulted in the murky and nearly oysterless waters we are left with today.
So part of my job was to help survey areas to plant these reefs. One area happened to be located on the Lafayette River right outside of the Virginia Zoo.
When I arrived at the zoo bright and early that winter morning, I met my coworker in the parking lot. It was FREEZING. As we started to pull on our neoprene waders, I made a rookie mistake of having the not-so-bright idea to step into them bare-legged, so I could save my warm pants for later. We suited up and headed into the zoo entrance.
Naturally we had to do all of this at low tide (hence the early hour and cold temperatures). Our plan was to quickly measure off the area we needed, draw a map, and get out of there. Let me advise you of one thing you need to be wary of at low tide: PLUFF MUD. Pluff mud is all of the detritis and soaking wet mud at the bottom of a body of water. When the tide goes out, sometimes it is difficult to tell what’s solid and what isn’t. Well, as sure as I stepped down onto that mud, I started sinking. Before I knew it, I had sunk in down to my hips. And just like quicksand, the more you struggle, the worse off you are. Now, panicking, I had to look around and see what my options were. I had one person with me (a 110 pound coworker, at best), nothing to grab onto, and not a whole lot of options. The only option I had was….remove my waders.
This isn’t the easiest task on a dry shore, much less a pluff mud pit. With the help of my small-framed coworker, I was able to free myself from the neoprene and slide, totally covered in mud, across to safety…sort of. Now was the new problem: being covered in mud up to my chest in a public place…sans pants.
So I did what every self-respected marine biologist- in-training would have done. I rolled around enough to make it look like I was wearing brown pants (or maybe enough to make it look like I was a Woodstock attendee), wrapped my self in my heavy, soaked waders, and hightailed it outta there. I won’t even tell you where I showered off, for fear that no one would believe it.
I think the lesson here is one of humility and being able to laugh at yourself. Sometimes I think we are put in these situations just to be able to provide a laugh or two to someone down the line…at the expense of our dignity, of course.