Paul Madriera stared at the window attempting to get the right angle so he could see the reflection of what was behind him. The timing could not have been more fortunate, for he saw a streak of orange with black stripes. He stiffened. It was a damn tiger. There was no time to figure out what the hell a tiger was doing on his patio in Arlington Heights, a suburb of Illinois, 25 miles northwest from Chicago.
He had just finished watering the lawn, still slightly hungover from last week’s excessive imbibing, so his memory was on the slow side of a turtle’s reflexes. Recently, on some National Geographics® documentary, he was unintentionally educated on precisely what to do in this situation. First, identify the predatory animal, and two, counteract. The best he could identify the tiger was that it looked like the real-life version of Tony The Tiger™, the spokesperson for Frosted Flakes®. Correctly identifying the species matters. It’s life or death. Siberian tiger? Maybe. A Bengal? A Caspian? Try as he might, his mind was blank. He panicked and took an educated guess. He screamed at the top of his lungs trying to make eye contact with the tiger, “No!”
The next morning, Paul was surrounded by news reporters from all over the country. He had become an actual national human-interest story. Not only did he save his own skin with his “brave” action, he had also saved the life of an Indochinese tiger who was casually choking on a plastic six-pack holder. By scaring the living bejeezus out of the tiger, the plastic was dislodged from the tiger’s throat. Paul was now the man filled with false lucky pride. Way to go.