When we last left off, a particularly ominous banging sound had erupted from the bottom of my apartment stairs, the location at which the smelly trash I had asked Kip to take out (against his wishes) lay. I crept toward the door, terrified at what I knew I would see. After flipping on the outside light, I saw a very large, very dark, very hairy-looking shadow making its way up the staircase. It climbed up one stair, then the next. I stood behind the front window, not moving, and also unable to see anything except the shadow my new visitor was casting. From where I stood, it didn't look like a good kind of shadow, and I didn't think it was detached from its owner like Peter Pan's. The shadow stopped its progress, and with a hefty bit of effort, it...disappeared.
Seriously? Bears in Alaska can Apparate?
I poked my head out of the door, convinced that I would meet my doom, and was shocked to see not a great hairy bear waiting to eat me, but my trash bag in my back neighbor's yard...levitating in thin air. I guess it's a good thing I bought the Force-Flex trash bags, I thought to myself; the bag seemed to be intact, if floating. I cocked my head, contemplating the situation. My surreal thoughts didn't last long, as the bag moved aside to reveal a brown snout and very confused looking bear, my trash bag hanging from its teeth.
It looked at me, confused.
I looked at it, confused.
"Oy!" I yelled in its direction and slammed my door a couple times to make some noise.
It looked at me, bemused.
I looked at it, still confused.
Obviously deciding that it should take advantage of this opportunity for dinner and a show, the bear flopped down on its bum and started tearing into my trash bag.
So much for the Force-Flex.
Their TV ads of rhino herds being trapped in the woven plastic are lies, lies!
I closed my door, flashbacks from last summer and Kip's rant against people who leave food in their cars and the doors unlocked playing through my head. Oh yes, we have smart bears in Juneau. They've figured out how to open car doors to get to their free food. I marveled for a moment of the sheer laziness of the animals. Honestly, how lazy can you be? It's not like they need to chase a gazelle across the Serengeti to earn a meal; all they have to do is haul their behinds to the nearest berry-laden bush and go to town. Then again, I probably shouldn't have expected much more from an animal that sleeps four months out of the year.
Still, Kip's rant terrified me at this particular moment in time. If bears can open car doors, which aren't necessarily the easiest doors to open, my flimsy little apartment door wouldn't be a problem. What if the bear is discerning and wants more gourmet fare? What if my flimsy little trash bag-full didn't feed his appetite? It knows that there's a human behind that door now, and where there are humans, there is more food. I placed an unsuccessful call to police dispatch and, unhappy with the dispatcher's instructions to "wait for it to go away and pick up the trash in the morning", called my new best friend, Ofc. Cryderman.
It pays to be engaged to a cop, people. He has copper friends who can come scare bears away with the city-issued shotgun every squad car is equipped with.
When he finally finished laughing, Cryderman made his way over to my apartment, announcing his location on the radio: "Paul 23 city, I'll be out across from the high school looking for a bear". No sooner had the radio static stopped than my phone buzzed on the coffee table. Kip had heard the radio traffic and was no doubt calling to see if I'd been mauled or not...or at least to hear me say that he was right. I missed the call in my attempts to make sure that the bear was still there and not attacking Cryderman or my back door. How convenient.
In the end, noble Ofc. Cryderman scared away the bear, I did a walk of shame the next afternoon to pick up my spent trash (how the bear found anything appetizing in there is beyond me), I admitted to Kip about eighty times that he was right, and I now fully appreciate the wonder that is my garbage disposal--bears can't possibly be interested in a trash bag full of empty Cheerios boxes and dryer lint, right?