Many of us -- in our pursuits of life, liberty and happiness -- figure a few worst-case scenarios along the way just to reduce the chances that we may get caught by surprise and consequently suffer embarrassment, loss of money, time and perhaps our best fishing rod.

We ask ourselves questions like, "What if?" For instance, many people with small children are constantly asking themselves if their houses are child proof. Can they get hold of things that will hurt them? At night, can they hear them if they cry? Eventually the question becomes, will they ever grow up? Well, that one is not about scenarios because one assumes that it eventually will happen.

In the vein of scenarios, I have a small boat, and my wife and I like to explore rivers and lakes. So I ask myself things like, what if we get stranded and have to spend the night in the wild. And for that reason I have stored in a compartment of my boat things like a hatchet, rope, knives, cigarette lighters, a small tarp for shelter, a boiler (for purifying water), extra spark plugs, spare prop, a sack full of shear pins, etc.

Now when the good folks of Rocky Mount, Va., were building their hospital, I'm sure they figured into the blueprints and the budget a host of worst-case scenarios. They probably included things like: What if a storm knocks out our power? What if a plane crashes nearby and we have to serve as the primary aid provider? What if the chief cardiologist gets trapped in the elevator while Mr. Smith is prepped for his pacemaker installation?

I can imagine a very long list of considerations, contingencies and "Plan Bs." I'm willing to bet, though, that in all of this planning no one ever asked, "What if a bear wanders into the operating room?"

In fact, I would bet no hospital in the land has considered such a scenario -- until this past week when a 300-pound male black bear strolled into Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital. Automatic door sensors do not discriminate against bears, mountain lions or encyclopedia salesmen. The can all get in.

The bear wandered down a few hallways and into a computer room. Two police officers yanked the door shut behind it. Officers initially planned to sedate the bear, but because the hospital was nearly full they worried about it getting loose. An officer shot the bear and killed it, authorities said.

Fortunately, the bear did not go into any patients' rooms nor in the operating room. One can only imagine the movie that would have inspired.

Now where I grew up on the farm, we had an expression when working in the summer heat: "Don't let the bear get you." This basically meant, don't get over-heated and depleted of fluids to the point of collapse.

Now I can just see some poor dehydrated guy who was being pumped full of fluids and through his blurred vision, he sees a bear sniffing about the room. Upon literally interpreting this old expression, he must wonder what else is about to happen.

And can you imagine some poor patient who believes in reincarnation. He returns from the toilet and is about to get back into his bed when the bear waltzes into his room. So, did someone leave the door to the zoo open or is this his late uncle Harvey who has come to show him the way to the other side?

As luck would have it, this bear did not visit the operating room. Instead, it wandered into the computer room, upon which it might have been greeted with something like, "Hey, if you don't have the software upgrade we ordered, then get your fuzzy behind out of here!" Computers can affect people that way.

So if you have not considered this scenario, the day may come when you just have to "grin and bear it." Or given the peculiar nature of hospital gowns, should we say, "grin and bare it?"

(Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer, 985-4545. Email:

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