Simi Valley Sophist

The Simi Valley Sophist ruminates on all manner of topics from the micro to the macro. SVS travels whatever path strikes his fancy. Encyclopedia Britannica: Sophist "Any of certain Greek lecturers, writers, and teachers in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, most of whom travelled about the Greek-speaking world giving instruction in a wide range of subjects in return ..."

Location: California, United States

Retired: 30years law enforcement-last 20 years Criminal Intelligence Detective.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Clueless & Self-Centered

I had the occasion the other day to be reminded of how clueless and self-centered some Americans are when it comes to local disasters and interruptions to their normal routine. Picture this scenario: the grass and brush bordering a city is aflame and threatening residences. Firefighting equipment from the local fire department and California Department of Forestry are rolling into the area with emergency lights flashing and sirens waling. Smoke and ash is blowing across the city as firefighting helicopters and fixed wing aircraft swoop down and dump their loads of water and fire retardant. Police officers are standing in the middle of intersections re-directing heavy vehicular traffic around the area and clearing a path for the responding fire engines.

At one non-traffic light controlled intersection, the police officer has four directions of traffic coming at him, one of which consists of three lanes. Naturally that’s where all lanes are full, and all non-emergency traffic must be turned around in a U-turn and sent back the way from which they came. That’s also the route being used by responding fire engines. All goes fairly well until the invariable happens; Someone decides that he or she does not want to go along with the program and stops in the intersection to demand access to the closed area or asks a question like “What’s happening?’ or “Why can’t I go to…?” or “When will the road be open?” or “How do I get to…?” Naturally this interruption entails the driver stopping in the intersection, rolling down a window and then waiting for the officer to have to walk away from his position and address the driver. At this point, everything comes to a standstill while the officer must deal with the inconsiderate driver.

Not all disruptions occur from vehicle drivers. Sometimes pedestrians walk right out into the intersection, blocking traffic, with the intentions of talking to the officer directing traffic. Then, of course, the person is indignant when he is yelled at and instructed to get out of the intersection.

Or, how about this one? The road is closed with traffic cones and two police cars with emergency lights flashing are stationed behind the cones when a mental giant drives through the traffic cones into the closed area. The driver is, of course, also indignant when he is ordered to leave the area.

Here’s a favorite one told to me by a police officer. There is a city-wide power failure and a police officer is in an intersection directing traffic when a motorist stops in the intersection and rolls down the window to ask “how long will the power be out?” The officer stated that he got so tired of telling people that he did not know the answer that he started telling them that it would be within a week or so. That apparently freaks the citizen out.

None of this that I’ve written is anything new to a police officer. But, perhaps readers will understand that when they are inconvenienced at one of these occurrences that it is his clueless and self-centered fellow citizens who are helping to inconvenience him.