Waking the Walker

A mother's quest to survive her son's "zombie" years – aka his teens.

Tag: Glenn Rhee

Will The Golden Rule Help You Survive a Zombie Apocalypse?


I recently came back from the “Magic Kingdom” and I can say, compared to my visit when my Son was 7, my experience was far from magical. This was not at the fault of the staff in the Magic Kingdom. To be honest, I feel for these poor people who try daily to create the “magical experience” Walt Disney wanted for all his guests, but our met with rude, inconsiderate and disrespectful guests, who are only concerned with their own gratification.

On any given day, we all experience the slow decay of common decency and respect for our fellow man, which in itself is a sad reflection of society overall. I had not however anticipated being confronted by this in a place that’s sole purpose is to bring joy and light heartedness to all who walk through the gates. If only Tinkerbell sprinkled “Remember the Golden Rule Fairy Dust” over everyone as they entered the Magic Kingdom’s gates. People were more courteous to each other going through security at the airport than in the Magic Kingdom.

It is this experience that made me start to wonder what type of personality would fair best in an apocalypse. The “it’s all about me” mentality that the bulk of society has become or, the one who is considerate of his fellow man and is conscious of the other persons needs as well as their own.

Needless to say I started to compare the characters of “The Walking Dead.” The first ones that came to mind were Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Meryl Dixon (Michael Rooker).


Rick Grimes, Sheriff, Father and Friend, has tried hard to always consider the groups needs in addition to his families. He has had moments when he has made some bad decisions, especially this last season, but at the core of his decisions he is always looking at what’s best for the group. He is not of the “it’s all about me” mentality, which is why he has become the leader. He believes by working together they can find a way to survive the hellish world of the zombie apocalypse that has become their new reality.


Meryl Dixon, on the other hand, (no pun intended) was the complete opposite of Rick. He was definitely an “all about me” kind of guy. Helping his fellow man was the furthest thing from his mind, unless it would benefit him in some way. In the apocalyptic world of “The Walking Dead” this behavior became amplified and he made more enemies than friends. He often toyed with his brother Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) emotions, playing the “we’re family” card, but his sole purpose was to try to gain an ally in whatever scheme he was running at the time. He was not actually looking out for his brother. He was the walking, talking epitome of the classic self-absorbed; I only care about my needs, the hell with everyone else mentality.

Although, in the end, he did have a bit of an epiphany and made an effort to reconcile his actions by letting Michonne (Danai Gurira) go and going after the Governor (David Morrissey), guns a blazing. Had he not burnt every bridge he crossed and joined forces with his brother and the rest of Rick’s group, they may have been able to put an end to the Governor’s merciless reign, but by going it alone, he had no chance of winning this battle. In the end, he was not a hero, just a sad pathetic loner abandoned by everyone.


Another great comparison would be Gleen Rhee (Steven Yeun) and Nicholas (Michael Traynor). Glenn has always looked out for his fellow man, even risking his life for the benefit of the group. He is the supreme example of living your life by the Golden Rule, which certainly isn’t easy in a world gone mad, with not only walking dead out to get you, but many of the living. Now that he has a wife and a baby on the way, he will do whatever it takes to keep them safe, to include putting himself very much in harms way.

glenn walker bait

Nicholas, much like Meryl, was an “it’s all about me” kind of guy, but he hid it well. To the people of Alexandria, he came off as a strong, courageous young man who risked his life going out into the world of walkers on runs for supplies. The truth was revealed when Glenn accompanied Nicholas, Aiden (Daniel Bonjour), Noah (Tyler James Williams), Tara (Alanna Masterson) and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) on a run in search of solar panel components. Glenn had already seen how unprepared he and Aiden were for the world outside the walls, but this run proved that at Nicholas’ core he was a coward, who only thought of his own safety.

In the end, his actions not only got Noah killed, but the lack of skill on he and Aiden’s part got Aiden killed and Tara seriously injured. Eugene, who admitted to be a coward, was more effective on this run than Nicholas. Add to it, Nicholas tried to cover it up by blaming Glenn for Aiden’s death.

The friction between Glenn and Nicholas escalated to a knock down drag out brawl, in which Glenn could have taken Nicholas’ life, but that is not who Glenn is. By saving Nicholas, he gave him a chance to redeem himself and it appeared he was on the road to redemption when he his true color came shining through.


After a mission to lure a hoard of walkers away from Alexandria went awry, Glenn and Nicholas found themselves trapped in an alley on a dumpster. Instead of working with Glenn to seek a way out, Nichols took his own life and in doing so Glenn went toppling down off the dumpster with Nicholas.

Fortunately Nicholas fell on top of Glenn which shielded Glenn from the hungry walkers long enough for Glenn to shimmy his way under the dumpster until the walkers dispersed wondering after whatever noise caught there attention.

There is one character however that unlike Nicholas has shown that the horrific world of the zombie apocalypse can actually turn the corner and become a productive and positive contribution to the community. Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) was a coward to the nth degree when Rick and company came upon him. Hiding in his chapel, where he locked himself in and his parishioners out. Listening to their cries as the walkers tore them apart.


Yes, a man of the cloth who was more concerned about himself than to come to aid of his followers.

Rick suspected something was up with him, but, he did help Michonne, Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Judith escape the chapel when a small hoard of walkers descended upon the chapel because of his stupidity, so, it was hard to leave him behind when the gang set off for Atlanta after Beth.

Fast forward to the present Season and we find Father Gabriel learning to fight and defending the community and it’s inhabitants. The crumbling world around him has converted him into a man who not only preaches about the Golden Rule, but also lives it.


So, in the end it’s pretty obvious, that no matter what the circumstances, the person who takes into consideration the needs of those around them, in addition to their own, will fair much better than the “it’s all about me” type.

As the Golden Rule states, do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. These are some serious life-saving words to live by, now and in an apocalypse.

© Mariann E. Danko and Waking the Walker, 2016. All rights reserved.

TWD Photos Courtesy of AMC


A year ago this month the carpet was pulled out from under my families’ feet. Our 94-year old Mother ended up in the hospital for a week with severe pneumonia. In addition, we were told she was in heart failure. That, combined with her dementia, landed her in a nursing home. The next four months turned into a roller coaster ride. Every time the phone rang and it was my Brother, I thought it would be bad news. We were all just waiting for the other shoe to drop. We lived in a constant state of “UNCERTAINTY” until the inevitable happened.

Roller Coaster

Uncertainty unfortunately is part of life and it doesn’t have to just apply to life and death situations. I believe in general most people get the concept that at any given time, their present situation could change. Not that we live in fear, but we are aware that in the blink of an eye something could happen that changes our lives, for the good or bad, permanently or temporarily.

 It is this very reason why I was offended when “The Walking Dead” show runner stated the reason they did what they did with the “Is Glenn alive or dead?” storyline was because they wanted the viewers to feel the “uncertainty” that these characters feel every day. Seriously? This is a slap in the face. Do they really think the viewers don’t get this already? We know the characters of “The Walking Dead” are living in a zombie apocalypse for goodness sake. We get that every day could be their last. We don’t need the writers rubbing our noses in it. And, we CERTAINLY don’t need our emotions toyed with for the sake of ratings or a media buzz.


 It’s games like this that can lose viewers. We watch this show as a means of escape from the “uncertainty of the real world.” We become attached to the characters like they are family and mourn their loss just as we mourn are real life family. Not to the same extend as a living person, but we are affected emotionally by their loss. Which is precisely why we don’t need to play the waiting game in regards to the fate of our fictitious characters tooRead the rest of this entry »

Walking Among the Walkers

With the end of the regular football/marching band season the beginning of this month, I’ve been thinking about how valuable the experience of chaperoning 260 teenagers really is, particularly for a single Mom. I have truly been “walking among the walkers” for weeks now, and will continue to as long as the playoffs go. The funny thing is, I have for the most part gone unnoticed, kind of like when Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Glenn Rhee (Steven Yuen) from “The Walking Dead” cover themselves in “walker guts” so they can go unnoticed in a horde of walkers in hopes of getting to a vehicle so they can escape the overridden city of Atlanta. Carol (Melissa McBride) does the same thing so she can mingle with walkers to get into Terminus in order to free Rick and his gang in the Season Five opener. The stunt worked in both cases and for the most part works for me too.Glenn and Rick, walker guts

Granted, I’m not covered in “sweaty teenager stink” but because these kids hormone riddled brains keep them stuck in their own worlds, they are oblivious to parent chaperones standing right next to them. That is until you catch them saying or doing something inappropriate and you make yourself visible, then, all it takes is the look and they know they’re being watched. At least when they become aware of your presence, they don’t chase you down and try to make you dinner like a walker would.

Remaining anonymous aids me in getting into the psyche of the teenage “aka walker” brain and reminds me I was once a walker too and I would never want to go back to High School. It’s allowed me to step outside of my role as my son’s Mother and try to look with empathy at the plight of a high school student. The world today is vastly different than my high school years and there are plenty more pressures put on kids today. Not just from the teachers but from parents, like me. Teen Horde

Read the rest of this entry »


Even with a new year, some things never change. For me, it’s my struggle to wake my walker in the morning. As a matter of fact, the older he gets, the worse it gets. He is definitely cocooning in his new loft bed. In lieu of dynamite, I knew I had to find another tactic. Turns out that tactic came in the form of Sgt. Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) from “The Walking Dead.” With the clock ticking away and my frustration building because my son wasn’t getting out of bed, I found myself standing at the bottom of the steps yelling “MOVE!!!!” as loud as I possibly could. After a week or so of this, I realized I sounded like Sgt. Abraham Ford from “The Walking Dead” Season Five opening episode. Once I made this connection it was all I needed to take it to the next level.

Sargent Abraham Ford

Sargent Abraham Ford

On the extremely tough mornings, I stand at my son’s bedroom door and in my best Sgt. Abraham Ford style voice and infliction I state “This is Sgt. Abraham Ford reporting for my new mission. It’s time to get up soldier. Don’t make me yell. Do I have to remind you what your job is?” By this point my son starts to groan and pleads with me to stop. The Sgt. informs him he will only stop when he gets up. He has a mission to complete and will be relentless until it is accomplished. My son gives in and gets up, slowly, but he still gets up. The Sgt. is fulfilled, his mission is completed, at least for that day.

I’ve found now that sometimes just the threat of sending in the Sgt. is enough to get my son moving. This made me wonder why a military style approach would have more impact than all the others? The only thing I could link this to was respect. In general, most military officers command respect just by their presence, so even though the Sargent in this situation is fictitious and Mom’s impersonating him, by ignoring his orders my son was being disrespectful. Granted, this could be a far fetched concept, my son could just find this so annoying it motivates him to move, but it made my mind meander to the topic of respect. Read the rest of this entry »

Zombie Apocalypse vs Freshman Year in High School

With the start of my son’s freshman year in high school this month, I couldn’t help but wonder which is easier to survive, a zombie apocalypse or freshman year in high school? Looking back at my son’s three years in middle school, especially his sixth grade year and the end of eighth grade, I would have to choose the zombies over freshman year. At least they are a bit more predictable. Devouring you from head to toe is their only goal, not slowly driving you to the brink of insanity. (Although, the isolation of the apocalypse certainly did just that to Morgan, but that’s a whole other subject.) Plus, one good shot to the head and you’re done with them. It’s not that simple with your teenager. Granted, dealing with a horde of zombies would be more than frightening and overwhelming, but, having chaperoned band trips, I can confess, so can a bus load of teenagers.

The Prison Gang

The Prison Gang

As I have learned from watching “The Walking Dead,” the key to survival during the zombie apocalypse is perseverance and preparedness. Don’t quit, give up or give in, is their modus operandi. Preparedness not only involves having the right supplies and weapons, but enough sense and skill to thwart off any dangerous situation before it overcomes you. And in this show, the humans can pose more of a threat than the walkers, so, common sense, instincts and skill can sometimes trump the weapons. A prime example of this is how the gang at the prison outwitted the Governor and his army during their second attack on the prison. The prison gang knew they didn’t have the people or weapons to out battle the Governor’s army, so they used a smoke screen, literally and figuratively, to make them believe they had given up and left the prison, which lured the Governor’s army into the tombs, where walkers and explosions were waiting. This spooked the army and they ran back out, where they were ambushed by the small prison gang as they exited. The prison gang refused to give up or in and used the resources they had, both wits and weapons, to overcome those threatening the sanctuary they had worked so hard to attain.

I’d have to say the same can be said for facing freshman year in high school. Although there have been many times when my perseverance has been tested over the years, giving up was never an option. My son on the other hand, is constantly willing to throw in the towel when the going gets tough, (yup, he’d be walker bait for sure) which is why I worry with every new challenge. He definitely has a bit of a doomsday mentality, which sometimes presents more of a challenge than the challenge itself. When he triggers, I have to pull him off the precipice of the walker pit and show him how unrealistic his thought process is. Generally this settles him down, but, by this point we’re both worn out by the process. I had hoped the glimmers of maturity that I witnessed through middle school were a sign that this would subside. Although it has a little, when it does flare, it’s worse than before because now his teenage hormones are raging. So, knowing I may be up against a walker bait mindset, I try to look for the signs when his “quit, give up and give in” attitude is triggering. This is the instinctive part of my preparedness, which at times has been my life saver. Read the rest of this entry »

The Optimistic Realist Wingman

It may be two weeks since my son and I got back from our TWD Summer Road Trip, but we’re both still riding high on the joys of the trip. Hard to believe a 53 year old single Mom and her 14 year old son could travel 860 miles from PA to GA and not want to rip each others throats out like a starving walker. Add to that, driving over 250 miles around GA and then the return trip to PA. Sure we had a few hiccups, but nothing that took away from the pleasure of our adventure. Maybe it’s because we don’t often get to just hang out together. It’s usually all about the day-to-day tasks at hand, especially during the school year. Or, it could be because we were both equally excited about touring the towns where our favorite show “The Walking Dead” has been filmed. More than likely, it’s a combination of the two. Personally, I feel that this trip has become another turning point in my relationship with my son. And a positive one at that, but the proof is in the pudding.100_3413

Most importantly, we did it. After months of talking and preparing (booking hotels, ordering tickets and collecting directions) it seemed like a far off fantasy that would never come to fruition. Add to that the fact that many thought I was crazy to consider driving that far for just a couple days, let alone driving with my teenage son. Not me though. I believed the TWD bond we have was strong enough to over ride any issues that could arise. Plus, I figured the thrill of exploring new territory would keep us both in good spirits. Turns out, I was right about both. When we got back to PA, we looked at each other with a huge glint of satisfaction in our eyes and both said “We did it!” We worked as a team, and accomplished our goals and then some.

I preach about team work all the time, but, the importance of the need for it at home just doesn’t seem to sink in. It was a different story on the trip though, my son found out very quickly how important it is when traveling on the overly crowded highways and byways of the good ol’ USA. Especially in the areas where the speed limit is 70 miles per hour. My unresponsive, not very helpful at times walker became my wingman. And a good one to boot. He helped to keep an eye on traffic when I was merging or passing, and, was the navigator, which he thoroughly enjoyed. In addition, despite having directions, we did need to consult the atlas and maps on my phone in a few instances, which without his help would have meant pulling off the road, which would have added to the already long trip, which neither of us wanted.

Me and my Wingman

Me and my Wingman

He also learned a lot about the responsibilities of driving. Seeing first hand what it’s like to drive at high rates of speed on crowded highways made him realize that you really have to have your wits about you behind the wheel. I do hope this experience pays off when it comes to him learning to drive in two years. We were almost clipped by more than one tractor-trailer during our travels and this really shook him up, me too, but, I already knew the dangers that the overworked and under rested drivers of these metal menaces traveling at high rates of speed can cause. In all honesty, they are the reason I don’t take more road trips. They take the pleasure out of the trip. The close calls did make us both more vigilant when passing these beasts though. My son even put his video game playing aside to be my extra pair of eyes, which, for any of you who have read previous posts know, is a huge feat. Read the rest of this entry »

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