- This essay contains language that includes sharks and may be unsuitable for attorneys.
- Unlike the concise, direct headline you’re about to read, my writing is all over the place, but I don’t think you can sue me for that. (Seriously, it’s a literary mess.)
It read, “Surfer jumps off surfboard, onto a shark.” I didn’t read the story because really, it was all right there in that direct, simple six-word headline. I guess one could wonder what happened next, but really, after you find out someone just jumped on a shark (not to be confused with “jumping the shark”), do you really need more?
Here’s what I thought at the time: “What are the chances that someone, in a huge ocean, would exit his surfboard and basically fall onto a shark? I realize the prevalence of sharks where folks swim and surf these days, but still.”
What are the chances?
Therefore, I didn’t read on was because after that part of the story, nothing could have topped it, in my opinion anyway, unless maybe we’d later find out it was a talking shark (like the one in Finding Nemo). I mean, if the guy escaped without injury or further incident, that would be anticlimactic. If, on the other hand, he had been bitten, well, while I would feel bad for the guy, I’d still submit that being bitten by a shark is less interesting than randomly “landing” on a shark.
Besides, had the guy been severely injured, that would have been included in the headline, likely looking something like this: “Surfer severely injured after jumping off board and onto shark.”
Now, had this article been a personal account from the surfer (or the shark, though if he wasn’t the one from Finding Nemo, he probably wouldn’t have had much to say), maybe I would have read on, but since it was a news story and being a former journalist (I love to use the word “journalist” when referring to my first job out of school because it sounds important), I could anticipate that the following eight to 10 paragraphs would simply include the facts of the case, with some data about the incidents of shark attacks, etc.
Something I did wonder was if one could argue that this incident could be construed as a human attack on a shark, given that – by the headline, anyway – the shark was minding his or her own business in his natural habitat when some “dude” accosted him or her.
Which then begs the question: who has the right of way in such situations? Of course, some might say it’s the human, who has a bigger, more powerful brain (one you’d think would be smart enough to keep its owner from hanging out in an ocean full of sharks and other things with big teeth, which are also much better equipped to maneuver in such conditions).
But if the shark had a good lawyer, I’m sure said counselor (probably from the dolphin family, which is so ironic since dolphins are so lovable, and in the human world, attorneys tend to be the butt of lots of jokes) would argue in a series of high-pitched, staccato squeaks, that the plaintiff (the shark) had as much – “NO, your honor, MORE, eek, eek” – right to that piece of ocean as the visiting (and intruding, by Nature’s standards) human surfer.
In this case, as with any moments when humans encroach on the natural stomping grounds of animals, I’d say, the animal had the right of way, and I’m siding with the plaintiff. (Besides, I’m guessing the dolphin would put up a cleaner, more compelling defense than the surfer’s attorney, because everyone knows dolphins dominate “sharks”; I couldn’t resist both the metaphor and the opportunity to get in a little lawyer joke of my own, but don’t worry, I believe overall, the law – as well as journalism – to be an admirable profession for the most part.)
And I hope the human lawyer (the one representing the human whom I would presume would also be human, though maybe it would be better to have a squid or an Orca represent him since they know the law of the ocean) wouldn’t use his or her time to try and show that “this proves we have too many sharks in our oceans” and then go on and on about how we need to “cull the herd.” (See now, if the human had hired a dolphin, Orca or a squid to represent him, they would likely have used the word “frenzy” or “shiver” rather than “herd,” and thus, greatly increased the credibility of the defendant’s case.)
If you know me or have read any of my stuff, you know I’ve had some water incidents of my own (near drownings and such), most of which occurred in swimming pools, which means two things: 1) I’m a really, really bad swimmer and 2) at least I know enough to stay out of the open water where all the really bad stuff happens, like landing on sharks, or where I might get sued by a dolphin.
So, what’s this all about? As my father used to say, “Hell if I know, but you’re still here, aren’t you?”
Well, I guess it’s this. First, freak things happen every day to all of us; maybe not to the level of accidentally landing on a shark, but nonetheless. Second, given my history with water – and the latest developments – I won’t be surfing anytime soon (read: ever) because as I have proven time and time again, I don’t need to land on a shark to create my own water disaster story.
And third, if you ever get into a legal battle, make sure you have proper and effective representation for the situation at hand, eek, eek.
© 2019 David R. Haznaw