The Happy Camper: MacGyver or Mr. Bean?

Will Kevin Callan be Mr. Bean or MacGyver in a sudden unfortunate situation?

Some of you might remember the show MacGyver. He was known to use his genius-level intellect, making use of common items such as paper clip, to get himself out of life-threatening circumstances. Some of you might also remember the Mr. Bean Show. Actor/comedian Rowan Atkinson describes his character as “a child in a grown man’s body” as he solves various problems presented by everyday tasks and often causes disruption in the process.

Recently, I had the opportunity to become a MacGyver; and you’d think that all my expanded time in the outdoors would have allowed for that.

But instead, I pulled a Mr. Bean.

I started off my normal morning routine. I let the dog out, brewed coffee in the modem, then went into the bathroom to have my morning constitution and a hot shower. Everything went as planned. After that was all taken care of, I grabbed the bathroom doorknob to exit, looking forward to pouring myself a strong cup of java and writing in my journal. That’s not what happened, of course. A writer’s creative existence, as they say, feeds off what happens around them. The doorknob became loose, and then fell off, from the outside. I was locked inside my minuscule bathroom. Alone—except for the dog, who was now fast asleep outside the bathroom door, snoring away

I didn’t panic at first. The dog was already walked and fed, and my coffee was still soaking in its flavour. I figured it would only take just a couple of minutes to free myself. I gathered all the tools I could find in the bathroom to fix the problem. A comb, belt buckle, toilet roll dispenser, floss, shower curtain rode, car keys… nothing seemed to work with the knob issue. So, I went to work removing the hinge pins on the door. I got the lower one out easily but the upper one was stuck. I bashed it with the blunt end of the hairdryer. I broke the hair dryer. Then I used the metal portion of my daughter’s curling iron as a hammer. I was able to smash the pin out. Problem solved—right? Nope!

The hinges were on the inside, which meant the door jammed while I was attempting to pull it free.

About an hour into it, I decided to use the last quarter of my phone battery and call someone. Yes, I had my phone with me. So why didn’t I use it right away? As an outdoor writer who has survived countless windstorms, lightning strikes, bear attacks and several bouts of Giardia, I didn’t want a phone to be my first response to some mundane silly day-to-day crisis. After all, would I be able to do the same while traveling alone in some remote wilderness setting? Probably not. However, any attempt at MacGyvering myself out of this mess didn’t seem to work. It was time to call in for backup.

First, I called my canoe buddy Ashley. He wasn’t home. Then I went to call my pals at Birchbark Media—a marketing film crew that I’ve done some work with, including an annoying puppet named Gary. But I stopped halfway through the ring tone. I knew they’d arrive with camera, microphones and possibly a few drones to capture the idiotic rescue, and then share it on their social media platforms.

I ended up phoning another good canoe buddy, Andy Baxter. We’ve shared a canoe on countless journey’s across remote wilderness. If you’ve spent quality time in a canoe with someone, then you know they have your back when things go bad.

Thankfully, Andy was home; and he brought some tools. He freed me in a couple of seconds, after being imprisoned in the bathroom for over two hours. Andy even helped fix the door before he left. He also made note that the entire ordeal was like one of our many canoe trips together. He and I have helped one another many times out there. Never a dull moment.

It certainly wasn’t a MacGyver moment. It reminded me more of Mr. Bean’s “Room 426” episode.  I’ve mended a broken canoe with Duct tape, fixed a stuck tent zipper with Vaseline, carved my own paddle out of a cedar tree—but I couldn’t escape my own bathroom with a broken hair dryer or a curling iron. Of course, MacGyver was known to always carry a Swiss Army knife with him. All I had working for me was a canoe partner who was willing to come to my beckoning call in a moment’s notice; and I’m okay with that.

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