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I am a stuntman. Last summer, I was working on the TV movie "Charlie's Balloon", doubling as a gangster who, literally, takes a long drive off a short pier.

Sitting in the car waiting for the cameras to roll, I mentally went over my safety checklist. This pier was 15 to 20 feet above the water, higher than is safe. You want the car to land flat, so you have more time to get out before it sinks.

I had reinforced the car's windshield with heavy Lexan, an industrial-strength plastic. Normal windshields are made of safety glass with an impact at 40 mph, they will shatter. We left the electrically powered windows open.

Inside the car, we had installed a five-point seatbelt, the kind race-car drivers wear. The belts go over the shoulders, across the waist, and between your legs. Next to me in the car, an Aqualung was bolted with an extra tank of air, enough for one hour underwater.

Besides the usual film crew, two safety divers were hidden beneath the pier in case of an emergency for example, if I lost consciousness.

The cameras started rolling. The director gave us the signal. I stepped on the gas. We picked up speed and then we were in the air, flying between sky and sea.

However, immediately, the front end dipped downward. We hit the water at an angle. The impact was intense. The windshield exploded. Saltwater rushed in through the jagged, gaping hole in the windshield. The force of the water pinned me back. Within moments, we were swallowed by the pitch-blackness of the muddy water.

I fumbled for the catch that would release my seatbelt but it stuck. I began to panic. The car was turning over. I couldn't tell which way was up. Down I went, rapidly; through 40 feet of water. I grabbed fro the Aqualung, gasping for air.

The car landed upside-down and proceeded to sink into four feet of mud and slime. I was buried upside-down in mud 40 feet underwater ! Mud clogged my eyes and nose. I couldn't see. I couldn't free myself from the seatbelt.

Blood was rushing to my head. I was panicking, telling myself that I did not want to die, when out of nowhere, came the order, "Relax, stupid" two words spoken in a calm, friendly, commanding voice. who spoke them ? Could it be God ? But does God call people stupid ? Yet the friendliness of the words, the good-natured jibe, almost made me laugh.

That was exactly what was needed to cut through my terror. the voice was completely right. I had been stupid. There was no reason to panic. I had forgotten: I had air and I was conscious. I had everything I needed to get out o the situation.

I relaxed. The mud eventually settled. Slowly, gingerly, I found the twisted buckle to my seatbelt. I undid it. while still upside-down, I located the crushed roof and felt around for the open rear window. I wriggled out of it and swam to the surface. Air has never tasted sweeter than it did that day off the San Pedro pier.

From paragraph 1 :
  1.

"I mentally went over my safety checklist". Explain what this means in your own words.

   

From paragraph 3-4 :

  2.

Explain the purpose of each of the following safety features that the narrator had installed in the car:

(a) the heavy Lexan

(b) the Aqua-Lung

    From paragraph 8-9 :
  3.

The stuntman thought he would be unable to escape from the car. Describe two problems that he was facing.

    From paragraph 10-11 :
  4.

(a) "Relax, stupid". In your opinion, who said those words ?

(b) What was the effect of those words on the stuntman ?

    From paragraph 12 :
  5.

How did the stuntman finally escape from the car ?

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Answers
 

1.

(a) He thought about the safety features that he had prepared

 

2.

(a) To reinforce the windshield in case it shatters from the impact

(b) If he gets stuck underwater, he will have air to breathe.

 

3.

Mud clogged his eyes and nose so he couldn't see and he couldn't free himself from the seatbelt.

 

4.

(a) God

(b) He calmed down

 

5.

He undid his seatbelt buckle, located the crushed roof, felt around for the open rear window and swam out.

 
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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