With its plain yellow cover it looks like a technical manual, but the Detroit Free Press reports that "it reads more like a dozen action movies rolled into one."
It's "The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook" by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht (Chronicle, $14.95) and in the year since it was published it has become a bestseller, mostly by word-of-mouth.
Each of its 40 chapters features a life-threatening scenario, and includes the survival skills you need to deal with the situation in simple step-by-step format complete with illustrations.
To escape from killer bees, for example, you are advised to run through bushes or high weeds.
To land a small plane after the pilot has collapsed, find the altimeter, pull back on the throttle, and follow 11 more steps that make the process as easy as brushing your teeth (with both hands tied behind your back).
To deal with a charging bull, remain still and then throw your hat or shirt away from you.
To escape when buried in an avalanche, spit on the snow to see which direction is up, then dig as fast as you can.
To survive a jump when your parachute fails, hook your arms through the straps of a fellow jumper's chute (although you can expect to break both shoulders and legs).
To bust down a door, give the door a well-placed kick or two to the lock area.
The advice the book provides comes straight from the appropriate experts, including stuntmen, bullfighters, alligator wrestlers, and demolition drivers. It even includes the rationale behind the advice.
For example, you should kick a door down rather than running at it and "slamming against it with your shoulder or body because your foot exerts more force ... and directs it toward the area of the locking mechanism." Of course if you want to break down an exterior door, you can expect it to take several tries, but the authors encourage you to "keep at it."
Other worst-case scenarios covered in the book include how to maneuver on top of a moving train and get inside, how to fend off a shark, how to leap from a motorcycle to a car, how to escape from quicksand, how to perform a tracheotomy, and, of course, how to deliver a baby in the back of a cab.
This is all well and good. Everybody should know how to do these things. But you could go your whole life without having to win a swordfight or wrestle an alligator.
Meanwhile there are worst-case scenarios totally unique to life in the Rim country which are not covered at all. Who is going to help us survive the life-threatening situations that are unique to Rimaroos?
"Around the Rim," of course. Here is the Rim country version of "The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook."
Worst-Case Scenario 1: You're wandering all over the back roads of Strawberry trying to find the Black Bear Restaurant when you encounter a real black bear.
Solution: Never run from a black bear. Instead, order an appetizer (we recommend the award-winning cajun shrimp cocktail). When the bear leaves to place your order, this is the time to run like hell.
Worst-Case Scenario 2: You're catching up on some laundry at The Wash Tub when the pay phone rings. You pick it up and Pat McMahon says you've won a million dollars in the Publishers Clearinghouse.
Solution: Tell Pat no thanks, that you can't cash the check because the banks in Payson are changing names so fast you don't know which one is yours anymore.
Worst-Case Scenario 3: You open your morning Arizona Republic, turn to the weather page, and discover that Payson is "missing."
Solution: Invariably this means that Anna Mae Deming is "under the weather." Take her some chicken noodle soup.
Worst-Case Scenario 4: You get stuck in the hole in the rocket ship at Rumsey Park trying to get your kid who refuses to come out.
Solution: Always have a can of WD-40 with you when you go anywhere near the rocket ship at Rumsey Park.
Worst-Case Scenario 5: You're from California and you swear the cheese omelet you order at a local eatery is made with Velveeta.
Solution: Being pasteurized and homogenized, Velveeta is as pure as the driven snow. Just because it's also as tasteless as the driven snow doesn't make it wrong. The longer you live here, the easier it becomes to develop a taste for the tasteless. The other option is to go home to the land of Gouda and Brie.
Worst-Case Scenario 6: You're sitting in the brand new Sawmill Crossing cineplex, and your girlfriend can't see the screen because the guy in front of her is wearing an authentic 10-gallon cowboy hat.
Solution: The easy way out is to trade places with her, thereby blocking your own view. The gentlemanly way out is to politely ask the man to remove his hat. Instead we recommend a solution in keeping with our cowboy heritage. Menacingly invite him to step outside. When he heads up the aisle to comply, grab his popcorn and move quickly to another part of the theater.
Worst-Case Scenario 7: Your car radio seems to be broken because all you can get is country-western music.
Solution: Call Trades and Sales and offer to swap your first-born child for an hour of peace and quiet.
Worst-Case Scenario 8: You stop at the Payson Roundup to set that reporter with the beard straight, only to discover they all have beards.
Solution: It's Mike Burkett's fault. We think you'll find him as convenient a scapegoat as we do. For example, why was this drivel allowed in the paper? Because Mike Burkett wasn't paying attention.