Flight or Fight?

Had a chat with some friends today, talking about a recent video of a man getting attacked by some other men. One friend questioned if any of us were there, would we be willing to intervene and help that man?

One of them answered confidently that he will definitely step in, further adding his course of actions.

I thought that is a pretty bold statement to make; it is easy to talk the talk, but will they walk the talk? Between flight or fight, it is never easy to make that split second decision.

Our topic reminded me of the time I performed a “heroic act” to “rescue” a lady friend some 10 years ago.

It was a sunny day in Pulau Ubin, I was doing a little cycling with my friends, T and C, enjoying the lush greenery and warm breeze. Back then, we did a lot of cycling in Pulau Ubin, so wanting something different, we decided to go off the main road and onto the dirt trails. In a single file with a safe distance between us, we rode our bicycles with C taking the lead, myself in the middle and T taking the rear.

Cycling on a dirt trail brings new challenges. With my average mastery over the bicycle and average sense of balance, my focus was mostly on any potholes or sizable pieces of rock which might cause me to stumble and get thrown off my bike.

As we rode deeper and deeper through Pulau Ubin’s vegetation, I got more comfortable with riding on the uneven ground. In the cool shade provided by the surrounding trees, the ride slowly became more enjoyable.

I was taking in all the flora, trying to be one with nature, when I heard C‘s bloodcurdling scream ahead. Her bicycle was lying at her feet and she was frantically waving her arms while screaming. Since there was a bit of distance between us, I could not identify the source of her distress.

Quickly, I closed in on her location and approximately 3 meters from my still screeching friend, arms still flailing, I saw the cause for her hysteria.

Flying around her, were these large, black wasps. Now that I was close enough to see them, I could also hear the loud buzzing generated by the beating of their wings as they hovered menacingly around my petrified friend.

I was taken back for a second, without thinking it through, I simply reacted. Jumping off my bicycle, I grabbed my towel (hung over my shoulders) and started vigorously spinning it over my head like a really sweaty pair of nunchucks as I sprinted into the swarm, towards C.

I remember hoping that my makeshift weapon would at least keep some of the wasps away. Next to my friend right in the midst of the annoyed (no doubt made more annoyed by my attempt to swat at them) wasps, the buzzing was unbelievably loud as though they were flying right beside my ears; a grim reminder not to loiter.

I learned life-saving techniques from WWF.

Not like I needed any reminding. With my non-towel-wielding hand, I put a headlock on C (effectively protecting her face and head), I started dragging her off her feet, snapping her out of her fear. All the while, my gung-ho and dynamic towel spinning continued, as we hastily retreated towards T, who was totally clueless and perfectly fine being way back, yelling at him to flee.

T remained blissfully ignorant of our predicament even as we bolted past him (C still in a headlock, my towel still gyrating wildly), but he must have quickly found out about the wasps as he overtook us in a heartbeat. It was a scene from an action comedy movie.

Pictured: My hand. That was one huge wasp!

At one point during our retreat, one of those murderous bugs grabbed hold of my left middle finger. I could feel strength of its grip and because it practically hugged the entire length of my middle finger, although I did not physically look down at the creature (too busy running away), my mind formed a mental note how big those vile insects really were. That spurred me to run, and lugged C along, even faster.

We scampered for dear life, backtracked along the trail for a bit, stopping only when we realised that the wasps were no longer interested in us.

I was the only one who got stung by the wasps; one on my scalp and one on my ear. In our escape effort, I dropped my glasses too, but it was recovered along with our bicycles after a short rest at a nearby house. Owner of the house was graciously brought out some white vinegar for me to apply on my wounds. Apparently, we were not the only victims of wasps attack that week and the park rangers have already been informed.

Needless to say, our day trip was cut short. All is well (swell, for me) at the end.

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I design fine jewellery for a living.