the heroic and the clueless- A Winter Tale

Right now, I’m in a part of the world, the Great Lakes region of the United States, suffering through some severe winter weather, with the current temperature still around -8F, and wind blasting, with massive snow.

As part of the adventure of this blast of severe winter, I encountered a situation of some major trouble that I noted on my Facebook page like so:

A Winter Tale. So. Out earlier, the plan to do some snow clearing was backed off to a more minimal path clearing. Being out in about -10F will do that. While doing that, I looked down to see water bubbling through pavement and pooling and flowing. A water line break. Right now, at 10:11PM, a crew of county water department guys are basically still in the early stages of getting into this, sorting things out, still to even get started on cutting and digging.

It’s now around -15F here, and the wind is stout. I’m just saying, if anybody out there likes to bitch about “greedy lazy overpaid public employees”, I would invite you to spend the night working with these guys. And, frankly, I would hope they kick your ass into the dirt.

Looking through the latest stuff on Facebook, I found that a local couple, who I used to see often in past activities, had a serious problem when their natural gas service was interrupted because of a malfunction, meaning a result of no heat, when the outside temperature was still something like -8F, with blasting wind still raging.

She later posted an update, the whole drama already past by the time I read everything about it, with a note of praise for the people who got on the case and fixed the problem in pretty short order. That, of course, just like the water crew, involved outside work in the hellish weather conditions, although the specifics involved make it apparent that the water crew had a harder time.

In the comments following the friend’s update was this following comment, from some friend of a friend, who, thankfully, I do not know.

So you are thanking the gas company for fixing their equipment they should have tested and maintenenced during the summer. But by waiting until it caused a problem, now they are heros. Sounds a lot like government.

This is exactly the kind of oblivious and petulant halfwit I was thinking of when I made my comment about inviting people with certain kinds of attitudes to join the water service crew, complete with the wish for them to kick their ass. To actually encounter, the very next day, some online evidence of exactly the kind of combination of attitude and oblivious idiocy I was referring to in my note of the night before was, unfortunately no surprise at all. I know they’re around. They show themselves often. Hey, look! There’s one, right there!

In this case, I thought about making some more comments than the restrained and minimal one I did, but I figured it was a waste of time to argue with some clown on somebody else’s page. I’m just addressing it here.

One immediate obvious thought when I read this stranger’s comment was simple. [That is, by the way, just ignoring the obvious, of this character’s mangled language of “maintenenced” <sic>.] The equipment that malfunctioned was, quite likely, working just fine, during the summer, and maybe something functioning well at a temperature of, say, 80F, might indeed have an unexpected malfunction at -10F.

Moving beyond that item of the glaring obvious, to me it’s a good clue to read that the guy evidently thinks that the organization involved, in this case the natural gas utility, a private company, operating a public utility, should be doing some sort of full testing and overhaul of every single piece of every system throughout the enture region served by this gas company, which is a rather large geographical area.

It’s worth a side note here to point out that the very large service area involves the fact that as the main city of the area morphed over decades into a large metropolitan area included vast areas of widely dispersed, low density suburban sprawl, everyone moving into those areas over decades all naturally demanded, have, and assume as a normal state of existence that a natural gas supply is always being pumped to their home, perpetually, problem-free, and cheaply.

Onbne item to add to the consideration is that without knowing the details of the problem, it might be a good guess that the problem piece is also underground, considering the nature of natural gas distribution, and the important concept of having as little as possible exposed to possible abuse and damage.

But, back to this character and his attitude, he seemed to think it was entirely reasonable that all things should be just constantly inspected and overhauled and factory-fresh at all times, and apparently have it all done in the warm weather months, to add to this, in a region where “warm weather months” (when people have no heating system on) usually means a period of about four or five months of the year, if we’re really lucky.

Stepping aside from the unreasonable unrealistic nature of that expectation, the thought occurred to me that it’s almost an easy guess, without knowing the man posting the comment, that this asshole is almost guaranteed to be one of the characters who is the first to bitch fiercely about the cost of his natural gas service bill, or any other service for that matter, while expecting this ideal program he has in his mind about all parts and pieces of everything in a vast system to be constantly inspected and overhauled to fresh perfection.

Basically, I see there an attitude that’s way too common, a general kind of thing that we might simply summarize as people who want everything, while they don’t want to actually pay anybody for everything. In other words, exactly the kind of character I referred to in the words “…if anybody out there likes to bitch about “greedy lazy overpaid public employees”“. You can bet the farm that something along those lines regularly spews forth from the guy in question about any bills or any taxes to pay for any services that he takes for granted as a natural fundamental of life. I’m guessing it’s a constant… like, for example, maybe bitching about the condition of public roads, and then bitching about taxes on road vehicle fuel to pay for maintaining public roads, even as gasoline taxes are much much lower than in Europe, for example.

I could probably extrapolate and guess that the man in question probably belches out proclamations repeating noises fed into his head about mean old Big Government and happily joins in with the grunting popular among many Americans who fancy themselves as “tea party Republicans” or “tea party Conservatives”, and grumble and bitch about nasty government steals their hard earned money from them in taxes to give Free Stuff to lazy bums and commuinists, imagining themselves as nicely self suffiently independent from any of what governments do, while managing some form of cognitive dissonance that remains oblivious to anything and everything affecting their life and circumstances in this world that are a result of something that falls under the general idea of “the public commons”.

But let’s step away from that here, given the probability of somebody thinking this is about some cliché riddled argument about “government bad” versus “government good”, which is simplistic.

Years ago, I had a conversation I still recall, talking with a man I knew who was working in a management position in the local electric power utility (a private company, for reference). He was talking about the ongoing perpetual struggle to just keep everything working, solidly, and reliably, everywhere in their service area, even when big trouble hit in some form. Because of the fact that any kind of problem or interruption of any kind in electrical power service caused a major uproar, with any arising problem expected to be fixed, like, right now, the people doing the work involved in this not only had to react instantly, at any time of any day, if a problem arises, but to get things working as expected by customers and keep them working, many situations involved some extraordinary patch-job, because a complete and proper fix might involve a massive project shutting down large areas for maybe days, even weeks. In short, the man I was talking to was saying that people had no idea of not just how difficult all this is, always, in normal times (never mind damage from some extraordinary disaster), but how much of the whole system was sort of perpetually cobbled together in patch-jobs and workarounds and so on, just so it all worked, and worked right now.

If all that was conveyed to the Facebook Fool who popped up before my eyes today, I suspect that would trigger some pissy comments about how with all the money I have to pay to the electric company every month, by god they should have that stuff fixed right and working perfectly, the half assed lazy bums, or something to that effect. Never mind the struggles of people who might be dealing with something at 2AM Sunday morning in the middle of a storm to deal with a downed line or a cooked transformer or something, quite possibly not just working in miserable conditions, but even risking their lives, while people like this knucklehead bitch up a storm because my power’s been off for a whole hour now.

Yes, never mind anything about “private sector versus public sector” and all that. This opens up a look at a much broader set of bad attitudes, that go beyond bad attitudes. It’s often raw ignorance that then neatly transforms right into obnoxious behavior. I’m confident that a conversation with the character I saw on Facebook would produce all kinds of gems of obnoxious idiocy, like maybe declarations that poor people have ruined the economy, that continuing federal extended unemployment insurance benefits is terrible because having that just means lazy bums sit at home collecting free money from their hard earned taxes instead of getting off their lazy asses and getting a job, or businesses across America are stuggling because minimum wage is too high, or all kinds of other manifestations of extreme stupidity formed by being buffered from reality.

There are many people across America, probably many millions, who share this kind of obnoxious dim oblivion. There are many people like this, who, as I suggested already, above, sit in the midst of very nice comfortable stable circumstances, with every comfort and indulgence imaginable, all necessities provided as an assumed give and much more, while imagining themselves to be living in circumstances to be regarded as a basic normal, to be expected as a norm due to them by virtue of what they imagine to be their perfectly self sufficient golden virtue and value. They believe and expect all that, with seemingly absolutely no clue of all that goes into providing them with that life and those circumstances.

To all of those people, I think I speak for a great many people when I sincerely say fuck you, you oblivious halfwit asshole.


One Response to the heroic and the clueless- A Winter Tale

  1. […] The circumstances so far have been fairly dramatic, with some big problems I’ve had to deal with, with more still to sort out and work out, dependent on conditions. This has provided plenty to think about, and some of this I already wrote about in my last note. […]

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