Gather around, kids, it’s time you knew about the legendary Barey Bones. I’m sure you already heard about how Barey Bones obtained the mythical Class 5 hi-vis vest after rigorous training with his pigeon sensei. Now, you will hear the story about how Barey found his tribe.
It was a night much like tonight, when the cold breeze drew campers closer to their fires. Barey was just a cub back then, a furry little creature that had his happy-go-lucky nature taken away from him too soon when his parents were hit by a semi while crossing the road. He didn’t know how to hunt or fish, and he barely knew which berries he could safely eat, so he managed to feed himself off of the dumb mistakes of campers. One day, Barey was rummaging through his favorite dumpster–the last one before humans drove onto the main road. It was, of course, dark, so Barey didn’t even see the figure standing above him as he cleaned the meat off a chicken bone. Nor did he see the lid closing down on the dumpster. If he had seen either of those, he surely would have scared the man away, at least until he could finish his meal. But Barey, focused on that bone, was completely oblivious until he heard the dumpster lid slam shut and the lock click into place.
At first he wasn’t scared. After all, being stuck in a dumpster for a night was like a bear’s dream come true. You get to eat all you can in absolute peace. But then, the dumpster started to move and Barey, trying to find footing as he was tumbled around, quickly spat out the chicken bone as he bearly contained his panic (sorry, I had to). Barey slipped on a banana peel, hitting his head against the side of the dumpster and passing out.
When he awoke, Barey found himself laying on a pile of trash, the banana peel laying on his head. Angrily he picked it up and tossed it aside. That’s when he noticed that he was laying on a conveyor belt that was taking him straight toward a giant steel block with teeth that smashed everything that went through. Barey tried to scramble to his feet, but kept slipping on trash bags and pieces of under cooked meat. His heart beat faster with every inch he moved closer to the smashing block, each unsuccessful step he took. He tried inching away on his back, on his stomach, but there was too much trash and more was falling onto him from above. He could see less and less of what lay ahead of him as he got buried under the trash. He could hear the muffled mechanics of the arm and see the tiny bits of trash fly up as he neared destruction. Unable to watch anymore, Barey closed his eyes tightly, bracing himself to become a puddle of bear stew. He could hear the banging every time the block came down, louder and louder. Then, quieter and quieter. Suddenly, the sounds of the trash compacter were gone completely and Barey felt a cool breeze against his fur. Confused, Barey opened his eyes to find himself outside, a group of animals with tribal tattoos on their faces staring back at him.
“You…saved me,” Barey said. His heart was still beating too fast for him to completely comprehend what had happened.
“We saved you because you have yet to meet your destiny, Barey,” the oldest, a turtle, spoke. Barey was beginning to get used to having strange things happen to him, so he didn’t even question how they knew his name. Instead, he let them take him under their wings–at least, the ones that had wings–and lead him the rest of their tribe.
“We want to welcome you to our tribe, Barey,” a doe said. “We’ve been searching for you for months and it seems that fate must have intervened, letting us find you just when you needed finding the most. Next time, you should really wear slip resistant shoes when you go dumpster diving.”
Barey nodded and listened as all the animals took turns telling him about their tribe. They told him that they were the sacred safety tribe of the forest, that they were the ones who buried exposed roots so hikers wouldn’t trip and dowsed still-smoldering campfires when all the campers have gone to bed. This tribe of animals had done their best to keep everyone, and everything, in the forest safe and sound. They told him that their tribe had formed thousands of years ago, when both animals and man were dying of injures that could have been prevented if someone had bothered to take simple safety precautions. It was this tribe, Barey learned, that had invented the orange caution cones. And it was the tribe that had worked tirelessly to find the perfect slip resistant outsole.
“That’s where you come in, Barey,” the fox said. “This is just the beginning to your journey to keep the forest safe for man and beast alike. We can only do so much–small things like blowing out campfires or warning hikers of an overgrown path. You, however, can do more. You are destined to obtain the powerful Class 5 High Visibility Vest, which will give you the knowledge and power to prevent tragic accidents like your parents’ deaths from happening ever again.”
Barey’s eyes narrowed, the memory of his parents crossing the road without any regard to safety coming back to him. That had settled it. He would do whatever he could to educate and save others from making the same mistakes his poor mother and father did. “Where do I start?” he asked.
The animals were glad that it didn’t take much convincing for Barey to become their safety black belt. But he wasn’t so gung-ho about getting his face tattooed when it came time for him to become an official tribe member. But he closed his eyes, gritted his teeth, and thought about the long journey of mastering safety skills as the wolf took a clean needle and, in a sterile environment, begin to mark Barey as part of the Safety Tribe forever.
But I bet you’re wondering about that bone in good ol’ Barey’s nose, right? Well, remember that chicken bone that Barey was munching on, the one that got him into trouble? As part of his initiation to the tribe, Barey was presented with a bone that looked almost exactly like it–a bone that was pierced in his nose (much to Barey’s protests) to forever remind him of his previous safety mistakes. Sure, it hurt, and you bet it was a bit of an annoyance, but that bone had a bit of magic in it, giving him the strength an courage to succeed in his quest to prevent safety accidents. And it always reminded him to slip his paws into some slip resistant boots and slap a hard hat on his head before he even went near any more dumpsters.