The Sleeping Bear Metaphor

OK, as a farewell, or at least “au revoir,” post from me (now that my wife got her CLN today!!!)
This post is by repeated request from Blaze, and out of respect and honour to her, what’s she done for others, and what she’s gone through.  It was one of my off-the-cuff throwaway remarks, but she liked it so I’m posting it here.

The Sleeping Bear metaphor was in a response to a post on the Brock site, where someone who qualifies for a decades-ago relinquishment CLN (can’t recall if they’d actually had the interview yet or not), asked whether they should at the same time as their consular interview, or before the interview, or right after the interview, write to the IRS and ask about whether they should file six years of back tax returns and a form 8854, even though as far as they and US citizenship law are concerned they hadn’t been a US citizen since taking out (Canadian in this case, I think) citizenship more than 35 years ago.
My reply said something along the following lines:
“Imagine you’re hiking along a trail in the Rockies (I’ve done this several times in my life).  You come around a corner, and there’s a big grizzly bear sprawled across the trail (fortunately, that’s never happened to me, though I have seen grizzes from a safe distance out there).  The bear is sound asleep.  You have three choices.
Plan A.  Quietly turn around and go back where you came from.
Plan B.  Very quietly and oh-so-slowly and cautiously walk around the bear at a safe distance, taking extreme care not to step on any dry twigs or branches or anything else that might wake him up, and keep going.
Plan C.  Look around for the biggest, sharpest stick you can find, and poke the bear with it repeatedly to wake him up and to see if he’s really as big and mean as he’s reputed to be.
Plan C, should you foolishly follow it, qualifies you for this year’s Darwin Award.”
There can be variations on that story, but you get the idea.  Don’t raise red flags that you don’t need to raise in a bull pasture, and don’t kick sleeping bears, if you want to live a long, happy and healthy life.
As an afterthought today, and based on what I always do when hiking anywhere in the Rockies: always carry a big can of pepper spray, attached to your belt where you can get it at a lot faster than those two women who were chased by a momma griz in Alaska yesterday, who had spray in their packs (no use there).  Bears can move a lot faster than you’d think, especially if they’re protecting their cubs.  And don’t climb uphill to get away or out of their way, go downhill.  Downhill is an act of submission and won’t threaten the bear; uphill is what a predator or competitor would try, and it’s going to be interpreted as aggression.  Grizzly bears, unlike black bears, attack when they feel threatened; they don’t retreat or try to scamper up a tree.  Draw whatever metaphorical conclusion from that as you wish, but I thought I’d add this as non-metaphorical serious hiking advice from someone who’s done a fair bit of hiking, sometimes solo, in bear country.  But do make a reasonable amount of noise as you hike, so the bears can hear you coming and aren’t startled by you.  (Not a plan with polar bears, who do stalk humans, but a good plan for other bears most of the time.)  That’s where the metaphor starts to break down a bit, I guess …
Anyway, for your reading enjoyment and whatever meaning you care to extract.  This is not legal advice and I’m not a lawyer, as I always say …

7 thoughts on “The Sleeping Bear Metaphor

  1. @Schubert: Thanks!
    I hope we all follow your simple but excellent advice: Don’t Wake The Sleeping Bear!
    I’m sure you and your wife will sleep better now that you have put the grizzly to sleep once and for all in your lives.
    Keep in touch.

  2. Final gentle hint to any IRS or banking trolls watching this site.
    I have a lot in common with grizzly bears, now that I think about it.
    Don’t kick me or my wife when we’re sleeping. Not a good plan. You don’t want to mess with me in a legal dispute, especially when I know my ground and how to defend it; ask any manager who tangled with me or one of my members when I was a union steward and on the national executive of my union when I was working.

    1. FEISTY! I love it. And thanks, Shubert, for all you’ve done. Your sleeping bear metaphor is particularly apt, and it came at a time when I needed that reminder. Good luck to both you and your wife with new your IRS-free life.

  3. I would pack pepper spray, as well as a Smith Mountain Gun in .44 Magnum, or a 10mm Glock. In Canada I think all one can carry in the woods is a good rifle, that is great too. This having been said, it is best to back away from a bear. Angry bears have also been known to back down from people who retreat slowly while yelling angrily at them and bashing rocks together. The bear says “I forgot that these strange human bears can throw things— I can’t do that”. How does that strange bear get that stuff on his back? Hmm, he seems to have understood that he is in my territory and is trying to leave, but he is also pretty angry and if I chase him he might hurt me, and I don’t know what other tricks he might have up his sleeve. Gee, he smells like booze and cheese fondue as well as that strange BBQ sauce that I tasted last time I raided his dumpster and about choked on his pork bones— and had the runs for the next week afterwards. I might want to eat him, but… I might get sick.

  4. @Dagobah Swamp: Yes, in Canada your use of firearms is definitely restricted (Thank goodness). I don’t even know what the laws are here on shooting bears.
    However, in Alaska, it’s legal to shoot a bear. I don’t know what kind of weapon you can use. We could ask Sarah Palin.
    Yet, it is illegal in Alaska to wake a sleeping bear to take a photograph! Honest! That’s according to Cruinkish’s 10 Most Ridiculous Laws.
    @Victoria: If you’re planning on having a pig in your Versailles Garden of your new home, it’s illegal in France to name a pig Napoleon.
    Maybe we could add FATCA to the list of most ridiculous laws. Demands from a foreign government that I report my account in a bank five minutes from my home as a foreign offshore account is even more ludicrous than telling Victoria she can’t name her French pig Napoleon.

  5. @Blaze When my wife and I visited Denali National Park in 1996, we were told that it’s a federal US offense and $5000 fine if you knowingly and deliberately approach within 1/4 mile of a grizzly in that park. Not sure whether that’s to “protect” the bear or you, but it makes sense.
    Waking a sleeping bear to take a photograph definitely qualifies for a Darwin Award, no matter what species of bear. Mind you, I witnessed something almost as stupid and cruel in September 2001 in Waterton Lakes National Park. There was a big male griz feeding on berries about 70 m from the road above the Kootenay Brown grave, and once word got out on the internet (the bear was there for at least three or four of the days I was there) at one point about 30-40 vehicles were parked along the road and a few idiots were honking their horns to get the bear to stand on his hind legs so they could get a good photo. The poor bear was trying to fatten up for winter, was minding his own business, and wasn’t about to charge into a pack of 40-or-so humans but I wouldn’t have wanted to be a solo hiker wandering along the trail near that berry patch at that moment, given the mood the bear was in thanks to the morons along the road. Parks Canada staff finally showed up and moved everyone along.

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