From Chicken Little: Last Day for Sale on Sky

woman in emergency mask

Of course her goggles and irises match!

I mostly bit my tongue when 30 inches of snow fell onto our house during the winter of 2009 and after which no plows visited our neighborhood. Scratch that, no plow, as in singular, moved any snow. Susanne and I understood a little bit better why people in this corner of the state and country act like they don’t need government, because hello, government isn’t, or wasn’t, there for us.

Fine, I get it. One doesn’t feel the pulse of the Capitol this far away, which means, one doesn’t have any reason to think that any government worker in the entire 2.6 million-person force actually cares about the average human walking around in this country. That such an idea couldn’t possibly be true doesn’t stop folks from generalizing what the U. S. government is and what it does. So they generalize. And then do it some more.

Sensing a problem here? At some point, our assumptions about government intent and capability take us off the rails entirely as we try to get our 50-train car over the river with no bridge.

Over time, we’ve gone from “alert your police to suspicious behavior” in the wake of 9/11 and the anthrax-mailing assclown to “pass laws so we can carry our guns into church” because apparently we’re now better at policing than the police. Osmosis? Or maybe strapping explosive metal to your thigh infuses your quadriceps with law enforcement knowledge and then that is carried up to your brain so that you know at any given moment who to shoot and who to leave alone. Damn those police academies for keeping us in the dark.

Well, wherever there’s confusion and hysteria, there’s someone looking to make a few bucks. I was ignorant of a lot of this until the other night, while watching a rerun of NCIS, I saw a commercial for a 72-hour disaster response kit. A what? I went back with my DVR. Yes. I’d understood correctly. Flashing images of the Katrina hurricane, the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, and the Chili earthquake, a deep-voiced, threatening voiceover told me that government wasn’t there for any of these people, and I should not sit around waiting for 1. a natural disaster nor 2. the government to bail me out. Bail me out? Wait a New Jersey minute.

Bailout is from seafaring, as in bailing water out of a sinking boat. It’s taken on a negative connotation because it’s used when the Feds have given money to a struggling company or industry. And the negativity has branched out to the struggling entity. So don’t call me a bailoutee in waiting! I haven’t asked for anything! I’m . . . I’m . . . I’m buying this nonsense, aren’t I? Of course it’s fine to expect that at least the national guard will roll in if half of Walla Walla blows away in a dust storm, leaving only Walla. That’s not a sign of weakness, that’s a sign that I’m an individual and not an institution, that’s all. Sheesh, for a minute there. . . well, I don’t want to think about it.

Okay, so this ad is comparing the non-Katrina response, the Haiti and Chilean earthquakes and saying they’re equally devastating, and suggesting the next one is around the corner and buying their $100 worth of plastic-wrapped product will what, be like having soldiers bringing me clean drinking water and tending to my wounds? Will it pull me out from a crumbled building? Is it like a Roomba on steroids with self-extending grappling hook? I had to laugh at the ludicrousness of this. I laughed, and yet my chuckles were laced with nervousness. Someone will buy this. Of course many someones will buy it. We bought Pet Rocks. We bought Snuggies. We bought ShamWOW!s. We’re Americans, darn it! We buy what we feel like buying! If I’m not spending money on insurance against Armageddon, I’m not a patriot!

I went online to see what was in these kits, anyway. And I was astonished to see how many different Web sites are hawking this schlock. Go on. Google it. 72 disaster kit, that’s what I typed. Open another tab and check it out, I’ll wait.

See? Holy preparedness, Robin! There is a lot of selling of crappy stuff! Light sticks, freeze-dried food, first aid kits, water pouches—I’m sorry, pouches? What’s wrong with water in bottles? Does it have to be so militaristic? I’d rather just put a case of Evian in the basement, okay?

I can buy pre-packaged kits or I can learn how to make my own from one of what, a dozen or so Web sites that have painstakingly put such content together. I’ll be good for 72 hours!

Doing the math, I see that that’s three days. Three days, really? Seriously? And then what? The earthquake ravaged buildings are renovated? The landslides are packed back onto the mountain? The flood waters recede like the hot air at the end of a car wash?

Oh. The government comes into town. The do-nothing, help-nobody government. We want to condescend enough to suggest we’ll need to sort out ourselves for up to three days, but then, we want our government to come to our rescue.

Let me know when any of this starts making sense. Maybe I’ll strap a banana to my thigh and walk into a church with it. That seems less kooky.

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Categories: ponderings


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