Perhaps you’ve seen the “Mayhem, like me” television commercials for an insurance company—a guy who is always causing various kinds of incidents, accidents, crashes, and explosions. Mayhem.
Dean Winters is the actor’s name and he is no stranger to mayhem. Seven years ago he collapsed in his doctor’s office where he’d gone for treatment of a bacterial infection. He went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance and was revived by paramedics, then was in the intensive care unit at a hospital for three weeks. During the next year, gangrene cost him two toes and half of one thumb. He also had ten operations including a skin graft. After living through mayhem he became “Mayhem” in 2010.
It’s not a new advertising concept. As we were recently leafing through the program for the St. Louis Fashion Pageant of 1924 (historical research takes the researcher on some interesting side journeys), an ad for the Missouri State Life Insurance Company sounded a familiar theme:
I ride on the point of a pin.
Or the pilot of a locomotive.
I lurk in the bottom of the bathtub with a cake of soap.
Or in the shaky corner of a skyscraper—
I cling to the baby’s toy automobile left at the top of the stairs.
Or sit in the driver’s seat with the near-sighted motorist who won’t wear glasses—
I fly through the air with the sign wrenched loose by the wind
And with the cinders borne from the spouting chimney—
I stalk the hunter as he pursues the fleeting rabbit.
And slink behind the errand boy who eats a banana and throws away the peel—
I am ever present.
There is only one protection against me—
GET YOURS TOMORROW
All the reader had to do was call the St. Louis Branch of the insurance company at Central 1700.
Other than “cinders…from a spouting chimney,” all of these dangers remain ninety-two years later. Mayhem never goes away—although sometimes it adjourns for a few months.