New Brunswick — It’s the spring thaw, and that means volunteers with the Emergency Measures Organization are again mobilizing to rescue hundreds of people across the province who haven’t moved from their couches and recliners all winter, and are now trapped in them.
“It’s the same every spring,” said Jeanie Basque, loaded down with ropes and a crowbar. “They sit there watching Netflix and don’t move from their chair all winter, then one day they notice the sun on the curtains is stronger and the room is less drafty, and they realize it’s spring and they need to get up.”
One of the victims contacted The Manatee on a fading cell connection from her home in Shediac. “For God’s sakes, please help us,” she sobbed. “Me and the mister can’t get up, every time we try we just sink deeper. We need to go to the bathroom. And I dropped the remote and can’t reach it.”
At this point the connection was lost, which thankfully cut off her husband’s pitiful wailing in the background.
“People just don’t think,” said Basque. “They settle in on their old sofa with the springs gone and the cushions way too soft, and as the weeks go by they put on weight and sink deeper and deeper. It’s hard enough getting out of them if you’re in good shape, but by spring the muscles are atrophied. And those deep recliners, if the electric motor fails or the mechanism sticks, you can’t get off except with a winch.
“We’re racing against time…All these people were settled in good for the winter, with lots of beer and storm chips and a big jar to pee in, but the snacks are low, the jar is full, and they really need to go to the bathroom. They get so into binge-watching The Crown that they don’t take notice that their bladder’s almost bursting.”
Canadian Forces armoured vehicles have been called in to help, as many of the rural driveways are muddy and difficult to access.
“We’ve got four-tonne winches on these vehicles,” said Sgt. Frank Hartley, and let me tell you, we put a strain on ‘em sometimes trying to pull these people out of their recliners. Some of ‘em have put on a helluva lot of weight over the winter, sittin’ there stuffing themselves with Maltesers and Sleemans.
“It can get pretty grim. One fella was sunk so deep he could only see the top half of the TV screen and couldn’t reach his can of Moosehead. It’s close, but so far everyone’s been lucky that we got to them in time.”
EMO advises New Brunswickers settling in to binge watch, to always have a cellphone next to them, preferably on a charger, and to have someone check in on them every week.
“We’re exhausted, but there’s still a few left to rescue,” said Basque. “It’s going to take another couple of days. Luckily there’s some great new Netflix series starting, but that’s small consolation when you’re out of Cheezies and the pee bottle is full.”