What Kind of Hero are You?

on Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Are you a hero? I think we would all like to think that we could be heroes if given the right opportunity and the right circumstances. The lack of opportunity may be the only thing hindering us from rising to our full heroic potential.

We may be the office wimp or the short-sighted library bookworm or we might be an Indiana Jones look-a-like but if that fleeting opportunity does not come our way then the world will never know our hidden heroic capabilities. We will always be Clark Kent and never Superman.

What heroic deed might you have in you to perform? Might you be the knight in shining armour for the lady in distress? Might you be the mother who is able to hold three jobs and still take care of the children's problem with bullies in school while smiling all the time and never raising her voice ......"Super Mom"? Or might you be the one who scores the winning point for your team in the national championships ...."Mr. Golden Goal"?

If you follow the comic book characters of the Fantastic Four; there's Mr. Fantastic (cause its "fantastic" the way he stretches), the Invisible Girl (for obvious reasons) , Johnny Torch (cause he is all sizzle and fire) and the Thing (cause the name says it all). What might our Super hero name be?

For example, if I see a bunch of young hoodlums picking on an elderly citizen, I might do one of the following; a) Shout at them and show them my muscles and they run away (that would be the Terminator), b) I could do that and they roll around laughing so much that they are helpless (The Entertainer), c) They are not impressed, leave the elderly victim and come beat me up (The Substitute Man) or d) I sneak away and call the cops (The "Call for help" Man, also known as the Energiser Man cause of a longer lifespan than the Substitute Man).

Looking back over my many years, there have in fact been a number of occassions that I have had an opportunity to demonstrate my heroic traits. As I relate the following incident, please help me to decide what my Super Hero name should be.

In my first year at University, I had to do a laboratory class on organic chemistry. This is probably one of the most dangerous lab sessions for first year students because almost every chemical we get to play with is either extremely toxic, foul smelling or combustible. The laboratory had long work benches that could accommodate two working pairs on each side. The central median of the work bench was where we kept some commonly used chemicals and also where the switches for the lights, the gas and the suction pumps were located so that it could be accessed from either side.

During one of these laboratory sessions, we were supposed to use an oil bath to evaporate an inflammable solvent to recover something dissolved in the solvent. The oil bath allows us to reach higher temperatures than 100 degrees Celsius safely as long as no naked flame ignites the oil or the flammable fumes of the solvent. This can be achieved by using a special element heater but on no occassion is the bunsen burner used because it has a powerful naked flame.

When we took our places, my lab partner, Mr. "Run for your life" was not at all pleased to find that opposite us was "Super Clumsy Girl" and her sidekick "Miss. Frantic". He warned me that the omens are bad and something bad was going to happen. Based on what we were doing, I figured that fire was going to be a likely feature of the afternoon and made a mental note of what to do in case of one.

Sure enough in less than an hour later, there was a "whoossh" as Super Clumsy Girl ignited her oil bath and solvent mix by using a bunsen burner to help "speed up the slow process". She starts to scream (another super power of hers). Miss. Frantic panicked and dropped her crucible of toxic paste all over the floor (its going to be one big mess to clean up). I turn to yell at my partner to alert the lab supervisor and to fetch the fire extinguisher at the end of the room but Mr. Run for your life was nowhere to be seen. Now that's fast on your feet.

My calm, objective mind told me that this fire was only flaring because the bunsen flame was too strong. Reduce and shut off the gas and the bunsen flame will stop fueling the oil and solvent combustion and then using a metal plate to cover the oil bath would snuff off the remaining flames. First step was to calmly reach into the middle and turn the tap to reduce the gas.

Despite the flames shooting a spectacular three feet off the desk top and amidst all the screaming from Super Clumsy Girl and the panic dance by Miss. Frantic, I reached and turned the tap and as I did so, I was rewarded by the sight that the flames came down and some one threw the metal plate on the apparatus when it was safe to do so. Crisis over.

There was a lot of back-slapping in celebration after that. Mr. Run for your life reappeared and congratulated me for my brave handling of the situation. I said it was nothing, just cool steely nerves and a realisation that you had to turn off the gas at the tap. As we were talking, we both heard a rattling sound. It was very loud. It was ..... the suction pump. Why was the suction pump on?

Sadly, the realisation set in that I had braved the flames and stood there cooly turning on the suction pump while the lab supervisor had switched off the gas supply at the mains.

So dear friends, what kind of super hero name do you think I deserve? What is your super hero name?


Odat said...

I think yours should be "Mr. No One Will Ever Know it Wasn't You"
Hehe. or "Mr. Keep Your Mouth Shut and Just Smile". ;-)
I don't know what mine would be...I've been thru many disasters in my life...and in spite of the darkness I walked thru...I did manage to come back to the light!
Maybe..."Teflon on the Outside Girl, but Mush on the Inside".


Josie said...

LGS, you could be Rocky.


He's the coolest squirrel, and always prepared for any emergency.


Proxima said...

I'm usually the "Knight in shining armor" saving men in distress.

My most heroic moment was managing and accident sceen involving two cars and bus full of morning commuters.

People were flying of the Interstate onto the off ramp and the bus driver didn't want me to use the flares to warn them of the accident site they were approaching. "What are you saving them for Christmas!?!? Why do you think buses are equipped with flares!" I said

Poor guy in the Geo metro was driving his wife to work. She was dressed in a business suit and he was in his PJ's that had sheep and clouds on them. I think his pride was more damaged then the scratch on his forehead from hitting the steering wheel.

As the paremedics, fire and police arrived I disappeared and caught another bus to work.

They still made me make up the time for being a half-hour late, even though one of my coworkers had been a witness to the accident and whom I had flagged through to let them know I was going to be late.


Janice Thomson said...

That's funny Lgs! We all have had a memorable moment or two in our lives. Perhaps your name should be "The Good Intentions Man" :)

When I was young on a few occasions I would go to the bar with the girls. One evening, on the way to the washroom a man grabbed me. He persisted until finally for the first and only time in my life I swung around and punched with all my might. He hit the floor with a thud. I was completely mortified at my reaction. After much applause and laughter at my still-open mouth the barmaid told me his name was "Grasshopper", he was the town drunk and they were waiting for someone to do that for many months.
The thing is I heard later that as I swung at him he was already tripping on a chair because he was so drunk and would have hit the floor anyways. They called me Superwoman all evening...suffice it to say that curbed my bar outings completely.

Ellie said...

"Mr. Cool, Calm and Collected" could be one. Hey at least you had the right idea. Everyone else was panicking, you thought to turn the gas off, even if it was someone else who really did it.

squirrel said...

Awww Janice took my idea "The Good Intentions Man"!

I am "Keep Him Breathing Right Girl" this week! LOL

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

You are so kind to a never-was second rate super hero. I was thinking of names like "Brave but Dumb Man" or "Can't tell a gas tap from a suction pump knob Man."

As for you, you may be Teflon coated but the mush will be your weakness. Thanks for playing. Peace.

Does Rocky also not quite get the heroics correct? I remember that show but was actually more taken with the wonderful characters of Boris and Natasha who couldn't quite get the role of a villian right. My heroes.

I dub thee, "Samurai Warrior Princess of the Nomadic Commuter Tribes". Maybe your co-workers did not recognise you cause you were not wearing a spectacles or something.

I am thinking Wonder Woman for you cause you leave them on the floor wondering what happened!!! haha. Seriously, though that was quite gutsy.

Thanks for the rather nice super hero name that you gave me.

CCC Man sounds great but I am not deserving. Maybe, "Cool, Calm and Didn't do a useful thing Man".

"Keep Him Breathing Right" Girl - you truly are a super hero .....hope he knows it.

Top cat said...

I can't think of anything but you did the right thing regardless of the outcome.
I'd call you a Jimmy Stewart type of hero.:)

CSL said...

I'm with Topcat on that - doesn't even matter if what you did ultimately wasn't the thing that made the difference - you kept your cool and acted sanely. I think Sane Man is never a bad option.

Cheryl said...

Hmmm...How about Mr. Meant To? Your intentions were in the right place.

I would probably be Ms. Call the Cops. My intentions would be good, but I don't know how much that counts for.

Jay said...

How about....Mr. Common Sense?
Oh, it's not glamarous, but it's rarer than we'd like to think.

Michael C said...

How About 'The Loney Grey Defender?'
That's a cool super name for you. GO ahead, get the business cards printed ;-)

JR's Thumbprints said...

Heroic measures often come about in forced situations. As long as you don't become roadkill, you're a hero in my book; I like Josie's suggestion.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I like what you said. I thnik it's really nice to be compared to Jimmy Stewart type hero. If we were both of the feminine persuasion, I'd say that it was really a sweet thing to say. But of course as we are both macho male hero-types I will just say "thanks it means something" and punch you playfully but manly on the shoulder. :)

The Sane Man may be a healthy person to be but honestly, I have an affinity for nutters.

Ms. Call the Cops is great. Sadly many people today don't make the effort to even do that. I think I would like to be the Go and Get Help Kid but Lassie may think I am out to get her job.

If you think a middle aged man pretending to be a grey squirrel has common sense, you may need medical help. lol. Lone Grey Squirrel isn't much but it is more glamorous than common sense guy.

Lonely Grey Defender. Wow. I got goosebumps. It's a fantastic name. Way cool. Thanks. Now to get the business cards done.

Appreciate the sentiments. Thanks. Although "Still Not Roadkill" Boy is not my personal favorite! lol.

Jocelyn said...

Great post, LGS. We were just playing this "hero game" on a road trip with the kids the other day. I think I wanted to be Tree Girl, so I could shoot pine needles and branches out of my fingers.

In real life, I like the element of surprise to heroism--and I like such acts tied into small moments of life. Like I'll never forget being at a department store with my 2-year-old and my six-week old, and both the 2-year-old and I needed to use the bathroom. Just as I was setting up a palate on the floor for the baby, a doctor I knew from our clinic came in the bathroom and said, "Let me hold your baby while you go." She was my hero for those three minutes.

my backyard said...

Great story.

I think my heroic moment would be running outside to protect my squirrels from the hawk that visits occasionally.

Proxima said...

Flattered by the comerative dubbing.

In your situation however, I probably would have just sat there and watched the pretty flames. Ooooh fire pretty. At least you knew better then to throw water on oil!


Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Tree Girl! What an imaginative concept!!!

I know what you mean. We meet heore all the time, those who take the extra mile for others.

You are my type of hero, "Defender of Squirrels."

You're welcome.

my backyard said...

I think "Nutty for Squirrels" might be a more apt title.

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