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  • Writer's pictureKaty L. Wood

The Bear Spray Incident

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

(Originally published on my tumblr in March, 2021.)


All of you, probably. Because you thrive on my chaos life.

So here we go.

Couple weeks ago I was feeling rather burnt out. Just hitting a wall with everything one day. So I thought, hey, I’m just gonna step back and go watch a movie/nap on the couch for a bit so my brain can chill out. Nice little bit of self-care. Some good old me time.

I pull up some Netflix, get all cozy on the couch under several blankets because I can’t afford an actual weighted one, and start dozing. All is well and cozy for about, eh, five minutes. Then my nose starts to run. Deeply annoyed at having to leave my nest, I extract myself and retrieve some tissues. Nose blown, I re-enter the nest. And my nose starts to run again.

Okay, screw this. This couch has two reclining seats. I’ll use those instead of fully laying down so my head will be better elevated but still comfy, and hopefully my nose will stop running. I rearrange, still determined to take my nap and chill out.

Then I start to cough.


Do I have the...thing? How could I have the thing? I haven’t been around people in two weeks. Also, I was fine fifteen minutes ago, so what the fuck? But what else could it be? Regular cold, maybe? But, again, I was fine fifteen minutes ago.

Ugh. Whatever. I just want to nap. Maybe I AM coming down with something and that’s why I was burning out so hard today.

Wait. Why are my coughs...spicy? Oh, yeah, I ate some spicy Doritos earlier. They probably just aren’t interacting well with the cough. Annoying, but nothing I can do about it now.

This continues for about another, eh, fifteen minutes, the runny nose and cough getting progressively worse and spicier. It was then that I just so happened to hear this WEIRD little whining noise coming from somewhere.

This whine is very quiet. But very annoying. I must find it and kill it. So I start poking around, trying to zero in on what it is. And. Well. I found it. A can of bear spray my father had given me at some point, sitting seemingly harmlessly on my camping gear shelf.

I stare at it for a minute, trying to figure out how exactly this little can is screaming. Then I see it. A tiny puddle of red near the nozzle. The can is leaking, and the leak is what’s screaming.





That’s right, y’all. This little can of industrial strength pepper spray was in the process of slowly gassing my apartment. THAT’S why my nose was running. THAT’S why my coughs were spicy.

I grabbed a trashbag and wrapped the can up and got it out of the apartment, then spent the next couple hours airing everything out and scrubbing up the (thankfully tiny) spill, very glad I had my respirator from work so I could do it without continuing to get gassed. Took a couple hours, but all was well eventually.

I learned several things from this experience. 1: Just because the can of bear spray is not past its expiration date does not mean it won’t suddenly become very unhappy and try to kill you. 2: If I ever have to actually use bear spray, I’m probably going to be just as fucked as the bear if the effects of even this tiny bit of exposure are anything to go by. 3: Bear spray tastes enough like Flamin’ Hot Limon Dorritos that I could not tell the difference for over half-an-hour.

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