Illness and guns
Recently this editor became (and still is) seriously ill. The good news was that any illness whose symptoms in any manner suggest a Viral Hemorrhagic Fever tends not to be ignored. The better news was that we got sick in Manhattan: The last time we were this sick was when we got cholera in Iran, an equally-amusing story which had some additional issues not relevant here.
We learned a lot about being sick. If you call someone who is mostly sleeping, keep the call to a few minutes. If you go to visit, once it is clear that your presence has been recognized you can pretty much leave if the person is dozing. If you decide to show up with food, which will doubtless be appreciated, leave it and go. Don’t sent text messages at 7am saying “I hope I’m not awakening you, but I just wanted to know how you are.” Don’t call at 1am. Call between 10am and 8pm.
Shortly after getting sick we got a call from one of our be-armed-at-all-times friends suggesting that since we were in a vulnerable state, we really should have a loaded handgun on our nightstand.
Putting aside the minor issue of our not having guns and ammunition at hand, this seemed pretty much crazy to us. Here we were, physically (we lost about ten percent of our body weight in two weeks), emotionally (we thought we were dying), and psychologically (when your temperature sails past 103 don’t count on really clear thinking, or on having a Piagetian level much above that of a six year old) at our worst, and someone wants us to keep a gun at hand?
We instead chose an alternative to keeping a gun at hand: We simply spent two weeks sleeping, comforted by the fair assumption that since nothing bad had happened in the last 65 years, nothing bad would happen now.
But what if something were to have happened? As an example, at one in the morning we got a call from our doorman saying the food we had ordered had arrived. Since we had not been able to eat for several days, we told him to have the delivery guy check the address, and went back to sleep. But what if the delivery guy were to have become psychotic, slipped by the doorman, and tried to beat our door down? Putting aside the minor issue that our door was unlocked so that neighbors caring for us could get in more easily, we had two approaches that seemed more reasonable than killing the delivery guy, and still allowed sleeping. The first would be to ignore the pounding and just stay in bed. The second would be to call 911, which would have produced a street full of police cars in under 30 seconds.
However, neither of these was necessary. The doorman and the delivery guy figured out who had ordered the food, and we got to go back to sleep.
Now it is certainly true that if you need a gun, there will be no adequate alternative weapon. That said, the odds of needing one while asleep in Manhattan are so slim as to not be worth considering.
Often, however, you are in a situation where you don’t need a gun. As an example, another editor was once staying at his older sister’s for care while seriously ill. During the night a stalker broke into the home and was found rummaging through her clothes in her closet. Within a few seconds of reaching the intruder in the closet our intrepid editor violently vomited on the intruder, who screamed and left. The sister was thankful for the assistance, but not the carpet and dry cleaning bill. Keep your stomach loaded.