How Safety BearTM Came About
The assignment seemed simple enough:
Smokey The BearTM has been fighting public abuse of
public parks, particularly by overeager Boy Scouts
trying to earn merit badges by starting fires without the aid of matches, careless smokers, campers who bask in the
warmth of their fires only to pass out drunk on the beer and/or spirits they smuggled into
the park, hooligans lighting spliffs in dry, grassy areas and the
Find us such a mascot for all matters to do with
safety and you will be rewarded with many gold coins and perhaps a corner
office with a window!
Well, heck. This mission appeared to be the so-called piece of
cake. A call to The New York Times classified desk was
greeted with quite a bit of chortling, snorting, muffled laughter etc. That was
put to an end when they were given the number and expiration date of my
corporate American Express Gold Card. The ad was to run until I advised them
that the position had been filled. The text of said advertisement follows:
WANTED: Member of animal kingdom to serve as
mascot for inside promotional work regarding safety in the workplace and
corporate activities in general. Preferred candidate should have at
least one year's experience in the promotional field, ideally dealing
with concepts rather than products. Cute, adorable, endearing
characteristics a plus. Generous benefits plan. Compensation
commensurate with experience. Mail resume with references to P.O. Box
9856, Hartford, Connecticut. Equal Opportunity Employer.
The best way to describe how things went from there will be to
entitle you to read clips from the cover letters attached to the resumes which
started pouring in within a few days:
"...After all, lop-eared rabbits can wear
any type of headgear you'd find necessary..."
"...and kindly don't hold my small stature against me.
Guinea pigs possess the requisite charm and adorable appearance. You'll
merely have to photograph me in close up. Beside, I don't eat much..."
"...just imagine; a few brush-strokes with red paint and
you've got a Giraffe who doubles as a hook-and-ladder fire engine. Dare to
tell me how you can beat that!"
"...while I concede that a Python is neither adorable nor
cute, I encourage you to peruse the attached articles in support of using
sheer horror as a vehicle for compliance..."
Appropriate responses to all applications were polite and
carefully worded, but posed a challenge nonetheless:
"Mr. Koala, of course I agree that you are indeed
cute and adorable, it is my understanding that your foul odor and flesh-ripping
claws might cause a degree of concern among individuals who meet your
personally. I also agree that Australia is arguably one of the most dangerous
places to reside in the world. However, perils presented by insects, arachnids
and fellow members of the animal kingdom pale in comparison with what
you're likely to experience in this
"No, Mr. Dalmatian, I will not entertain assisting you in
breaking your contract as Sparky The Fire Dog with the NFPA as it would
prove costly and that fine organization's counterclaims could perhaps damage
the public opinion of our firm..."
"After consultation with our legal department, I sincerely
regret to inform you that as Ferrets are in fact illegal as pets in
certain localities, we cannot at this time negotiate with you..."
"Yes, yes, cute, adorable, exotic are all good descriptors
for your appearance. The problem we face is that the country we all
associate with Pandas has, of late, had a poor, if not
reckless record with regard to product safety. I would be pleased to discuss
employment with you once the public relations disaster that was the lead-painted toys of last Christmas dies down."
"I beseech you to quit asking me to trust you. Once a Circus
Lion has been retired due to mauling not one, but a half-dozen innocent
children I cannot in good conscience consider you for a position which would
involve personal interaction with any human beings."
Thus the story of Safety Bear began. A trip to Markowsky's
Costume Shop in Moonachie, New Jersey was called for after their bid came in at
second lowest for the requisite costume. We had it taken out a bit to
accommodate the rather generous waistline of shaogo, bought a police and a
fire hat which would fit around the ears, and Safety BearTM was born!
Sadly, the cost of the ad in the Times became prohibitive
so the decision was made to keep the costumed homo sapien and discontinue
the advertisement rather than waste money on more dead-end applications.
So as the saying goes:
BE AWARE, PERPETRATORS OF DANGEROUS SHENANIGANS, FOR THE
EVER-VIGILANT EYES OF SAFETY BEARTM!