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 like.

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 position."

"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:


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