April 2, 2012

"You always get them… ask any serving officer who has ever closed a road."

"The upper class snobs who believe that access is their right…and that my sole intention in closing the road was to provide an inconvenience in their lives."
These people seem to think that telling me that “I pay your wages” will suddenly part the cones and allow them to drive their executive saloon unimpeded through the scene of the accident. One of them actually called me a fascist, and threatened to have my job if I didn’t let them through. They have no comprehension that roads only get closed for a very good reason. A short diversion does not justify elitist abuse from every member of the would-be aristocracy that cannot bear the prospect of being five minutes late for their dinner party. 
They have little, if any, concept of real life, and the tragedies that occur outside their electric gates and see the Police as no more than a necessary evil that should only interact with the lower classes or come running with bowed heads and doffed caps when someone pinches their staddle stones.

None of them knew what I had just gone through – I knew that. But regardless, I wished that some would give me a little more respect. We do what we do for a reason, and there is so much more to our job than most will ever know, or could ever imagine.
Via Metafilter.

61 comments:

Chip Ahoy said...

Hey, I paid £500.00 apiece for those staddle stones, you bet I want them to file a report when they're pinched, although not necessarily head bowed and hats doffed, I get the point being made there, I have a point too.

rhhardin said...

Exploitation is the genre of that one.

In fact roads are closed for no reason but bureaucratic self importance.

Traffic gets by fine until the police show up and close the freeway for ten hours in rush hour.

Add up the total person delays for ten hours at, what, $20 an hour average and you get an idea what idiots the bureaucrats are.

Here's one writing about how important he is.

Stuff happens. Traffic manages to snake by the severed heads and body parts okay.

vet66 said...

If you made an exception and the inevitable happened, they would unashamedly sue your badge off because yo failed to protect them from their own selves. Pity them, they live in a faraway land of devoid of reality.

vet66 said...
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ricpic said...

Cops are in cahoots with elites in the essentially sadistic war on shlubs.

leslyn said...
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Calypso Facto said...
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MarkW said...

When I see cops start going to even a little trouble to avoid snarling traffic (like, say, having stopped motorists pull into a parking lot or onto a side street while they're being ticketed), I'll start to believe that story.

chuckR said...

I agree that often road or lane closures don't make sense.
But for accidents, traffic sometimes doesn't get by fine. People rubberneck. They cause another accident. In the worst case they run into or over a rescue worker or a road worker. I hate being stuck but the solution isn't to let traffic through - it is to get it turned around and rerouted, if that is possible.

leslyn said...

I wish I could write like this. The writer has captured this unthinking (I'll be charitable and not call it stoopid) entitlement attitude and just plain malicious crassness perfectly.

Poignant and moving (for me, anyway) is the witter's desire for just a *little* respect for doing a largely thankless job that's dedicated to serving the public and along the way, encounters much sadness.

No cop wants to close a road, BTW. It'going to be a huge pain in the ass. It's done because it's necessary. You might not mind driving past severed heads and body parts so you can take your most convenient rush hour route, but I doubt you'd enjoy driving over them. At least, I still believe most people would.

BTW, the traffic slowdown that occurs when a road is kept open is called "gaper's block." It's not the fault of the police, who just want to get you out of there and keep traffic moving. Blame yourself and your fellow civilians for that one.

EDH said...

I shoved the nozzle toward the vent and let off a blast of powder. I moved it to a small gap at the side of the bonnet where it had folded up slightly and gave it another squirt. A cloud of powder rose into the air, and I had to step back to avoid breathing too much in. It’s not good for your lungs I am sure.

Don't like to second guess, but don't you think shooting the extinguisher inside the engine compartment, either by prying the hood or coming at it from below, where the fire was brewing might have been more effective than shooting it in the air vents from inside the passenger compartment?

Ann Althouse said...

There are so many times when one person is acting like an everyday human being (getting impatient, selfish, dickish) and the other person is in the midst of something profound (someone just died).

I've been in some situation swhere I was criticized by someone in that everyday mode, where I could have said something about what I was doing that would have brought them up short and made them feel terrible shame...

Years ago, a student criticized me, in email sent to my entire class, for handing in grades from my previous semester's class 2 weeks after the deadline. It was the only time I had ever handed in my grades late, and in fact, I had an extension: My mother had suddenly died a few days before the deadline.

I still feel bad about refraining from defending myself. But I'm glad I don't have to experience the other way I would still feel bad if I had. That would be a much nastier bad feeling.

Ann Althouse said...

My point is: We need to become more aware of the way we don't know the whole story of what is going on with another person, and we ought to consider what cruelty we inadvertently may commit when we forget how much we don't know about the entire world that is inside each other person.

leslyn said...

@Mark W:
Pulling people over at side streets, parking lots, etc happens all the time and is preferable, if one can get people to cooperate. You just don't see it because it doesn't hit you in the eye.

Christopher in MA said...

My point is, we need to be aware of the way we don't know the whole story of what is going on with another person, and we ought to consider what cruelty we inadvertently may commit when we forget how much we don't know about the entire world that is inside each other person.

Perhaps you ought to consider having that as a standing head in any future Trayvon Martin post. It might cause some of the local lynch mob baying for Zimmerman's blood to think before posting.

Pfft Who am I kidding?

David said...

That is a chilling story.

It's also a good idea to read the story that's linked before making an idiotic comment. That way your idiotic comment can be even more inappropriate.

Smilin' Jack said...

There are so many times when one person is acting like an everyday human being (getting impatient, selfish, dickish) and the other person is in the midst of something profound (someone just died).

But there are so many, many more times when one person is acting like an everyday human being (getting impatient, selfish, dickish) because the other person really is just a stupid lazy fuckup.

Matthew said...

Why are everyday people such jerks (getting impatient, selfish, dickish)?

rhhardin said...

That is a chilling story.

The word-processor hum is nice too.

edutcher said...

This is something every commuter faces and about half the time the reason for the slowdown is never really seen.

And that's the aggravating part.

As to the class (actually, classless) warriors among us, it's usually the guy in the junker held together by duct tape, coat hangers, and its own rust who's driving in the breakdown lane, bot the guy in the Beemer.

Zach said...

There are many, many fictional elements in this story. You have the quick identification with "Dave," dramatic irony, foreshadowing, building tension and climax, followed by silent contemplation and a moral.

Plus, the author makes rather a big deal about everyday griping from inconvenienced drivers for someone who just watched a man burn to death.

There's no evidence that this story was made up. But I wouldn't be surprised if it were a composite story, or sweetened a little.

rhhardin said...

It's not a story about a guy dying (that happens 150,000 times a day, well half that for guys), but a story about the importance and depth of our bureaucrat.

Now that would be a man bites dog story. A deep bureaucrat.

Paddy O said...

"We need to become more aware of the way we don't know the whole story of what is going on with another person, and we ought to consider what cruelty we inadvertently may commit when we forget how much we don't know about the entire world that is inside each other person."

Yes! Preach it.

Having this attitude, assuming it, really does transform how we interact with others. We always tend to assume everything is about us, when it rarely is.

traditionalguy said...

IMO the Jerks-R-Us attitude of post christian culture is a result of having no respect for others learned from a church attendance habit.

Everyone is equal in the eyes of God and we experience that weekly reminder at church services in a similar way that the servant in a Conquering Roman's Triumph parade chariot whispered in his ear that he too was only a man.

It takes simple self control to respect and honor all men.

In fact Love requires an exercise in self control for the benefit of others, which is why lust is not called love.

Patience is just another word for suffering. While many modern day frustrations seem to be suffering, they seldom are. Usually they are mere slow downs in comparison to digital speeds we have only recently come to expect.

Patrick said...

That was terrible for the University to put you in that situation. You would think a simple note from the Dean to the students "due to extraordinary circumstances, Professor Althouse will be turning in grades 2 weeks later. We regret the inconvenience." Had they done that, your students would have known something was up, and you wouldn't have been in an extremely awkward and uncomfortable situation.

wyo sis said...

So, how would anyone's life be different if we all just gave each other the benefit of the doubt. I'll start by assuming you all had a bad day and can't work up any human decency.

Ann Althouse said...

"That was terrible for the University to put you in that situation. You would think a simple note from the Dean to the students "due to extraordinary circumstances, Professor Althouse will be turning in grades 2 weeks later. We regret the inconvenience." Had they done that, your students would have known something was up, and you wouldn't have been in an extremely awkward and uncomfortable situation."

That assumes everyone else is constantly meeting deadlines!

Patrick said...

I suppose so, but you were meeting the deadlines (at least for turning in grades), so it would have deflected or headed off the student's email.

This makes me think of times I have not given the benefit of the doubt. It is difficult to imagine that someone who is being a total jerk isn't ordinarily doing so. But even jerks aren't always jerks.

Scott M said...

I'll start by assuming you all had a bad day and can't work up any human decency.

You were aware that you were typing that comment into the internet when you hit enter or send, weren't you?

Smilin' Jack said...

None of them knew what I had just gone through – I knew that. But regardless, I wished that some would give me a little more respect.

It's too bad you didn't get a chance to tell Dave he wouldn't die in vain--that you would use his otherwise insignificant death to show the world the true tragedy here: you don't get enough respect.

...there is so much more to our job than most will ever know, or could ever imagine.

Yes, your trials and tribulations are totally beyond human comprehension. Jesus Himself would be dumbstruck by your awesomeness.

leslyn said...

edutcher said,

This is something every commuter faces and about half the time the reason for the slowdown is never really seen. And that's the aggravating part.

As to the class (actually, classless) warriors among us, it's usually the guy in the junker held together by duct tape, coat hangers, and its own rust who's driving in the breakdown lane, bot the guy in the Beemer.


edutcher, it's the reverse. The guy in the broken-down junker usually avoids these problems, because he can't afford the ticket. And if he does try it and gets caught, he doesn't give you a ration of shit about it.

leslyn said...

Smilin' Jack wears a frown. Or maybe it'eva man-eating, snarling grimace.

Amartel said...

The article is on a blog by a British police officer so there's the origin of the class reference. ("Oh, there you go bringing class into it again.")
A British policeman would be far more attuned to and resentful of upper class abuse of privilege in the same way that an American conservative would be far more attuned to and resentful of abuses of privilege by the government class. In point of fact, anyone can mulishly bumble into someone else's highly dramatic moment.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

It's too bad you didn't get a chance to tell Dave he wouldn't die in vain--that you would use his otherwise insignificant death to show the world the true tragedy here: you don't get enough respect.

Jack.

Have you ever had to pull a burnt body from the wreckage and wait and wait for the ambulance to arrive? Go to an accident scene and see the dead body of the son of a friend impaled by the wreckage? Scrape up body parts from the roadway so people can pass by?

I haven't. But my husband has as a member of the local volunteer fire department has and he has had nightmares from the experience.

We don't have a police force. We don't have a paid fire department. The local hospital's ambulance is often 30 miles or more away from the scene. Most often it is the volunteer firemen, some of whom have EMT training, who are first on the scene.

When there is a death, the wreckage has to stay in place until the 'officials' and examiners arrive. By LAW.....not by choice. The road is often closed Often hours and hours. Meanwhile the situation is protected, once the injured are removed, if you are lucky enough to have injured.

In rural areas, like this story (and I have no doubt that it was probably a compilation of events), the road that is being blocked off is the ONLY way to get to your location. There are no easy alternate routes.

So not only does the fireman, or sheriff have to see the destruction up close and personal, they also have to field the annoyance of people who are anxious to get home, get to work or who may be fearful that they know the persons involved.

Most of the local residents are aware of all of the above issues and are patient and supportive and often also volunteer to help with the traffic re routing.

Others who generally not local, have the same smug self important view of life as you, and tend to be assholes.

You can take your attitude and shove it where the sun doesn't shine.

It may be you on the roadway some day and you might appreciate the people who volunteer and who are paid to try to save your sorry ass.

Probably not.

CatherineM said...

Thanks for saying what I was going to DBQ

TheFunkyDonutMan said...

I read the original post by the supposed British policeman and it comes off as a bit internet-manufactured. I call bullshit.

Freeman Hunt said...

We need to become more aware of the way we don't know the whole story of what is going on with another person, and we ought to consider what cruelty we inadvertently may commit when we forget how much we don't know about the entire world that is inside each other person.

I absolutely agree with this.

A friend's favorite quote came from the clerk at a fast food place to another customer, "I don't know yo' life!" It lacks high language but contains an important truth. When someone is getting on one's nerves, It's important to remember, "I don't know her life," or "I don't know his life."

As for the guy's post:
(1) I felt a chill at the very beginning when he decided to wait for the fire engine rather than immediately trying to get the person out of the car. That was a big mistake.
(2) Here they always send a fire engine out with an ambulance. Always. Even if they're coming to your house to pick you up for a medical emergency.

Anyway, that was horrible, and I wish I hadn't read it. Not because of the perturbed cop, but because of the man who burned to death. That is awful.

rhhardin said...

When there is a death, the wreckage has to stay in place until the 'officials' and examiners arrive. By LAW

That's where the bureaucracy comes in.

Before that, common sense prevailed.

That was too much for the elite and elite wannabe's.

rhhardin said...

You can take your attitude and shove it where the sun doesn't shine.

It may be you on the roadway some day and you might appreciate the people who volunteer and who are paid to try to save your sorry ass.


How about a deal where you can drive where you want in return for that.

Like Americans used to have.

Tully said...

A few years back I pulled barricade duty after a monster storm. We blocked off a road due to serious flooding. I got to spend hours listening to the abuse of the entitled.

Three out of four people we turned back had questions, When can we get in? How bad is it? Most otf them thanked me and turned right around. But some of them thought the whole thing was silly. They were quite willing to take their chances, so move that damned barricade for me!

When (politely) told no effing way, they would then get abusive, often complete to the DYKWIA response. Finally I started answering them back by telling them that while I didn't give a tinker's damn if they drowned their stupid self-important selves (as some undoubtedly would have) I would be damned if I would assist them in putting the lives of emergency responders at risk when we had to go in and try to rescue their sorry moron asses or recover their soggy s***-for-brains bodies.

At least two of them called the captain to complain. He told them much the same thing I had, if in less expressive phrasing. He did ask me later to resist the urge to let the really asinine obnoxious ones through next time.

Harsh Pencil said...

Maybe one problem with rich people saying "I pay your wages" is that given the ridiculous level of progressivity in property taxes (at least where I live), the rich person has a point. He is paying the cop's wages.

If the rich didn't feel they were constantly being told to pick up the tab, they wouldn't act like it as often.

rhhardin said...

Your authority was disrespected? The bureaucrat response.

Around here there are signs High Water and no barricade duty.

Nobody drowns.

The problem here really seems to be disrespect.

That can be solved by not standing there.

Everybody's happy.

paul a'barge said...

Just so everyone knows, this is a Brit piece.

Over here in America, we don't pull up to a road closure and yell at the police. We (Americans) get the F' out of our cars and offer to help.

Scott M said...

I don't remember who the author was, but along the lines of getting stopped and annoyed by traffic...

Apparently he was driving a piece of shit car through the mountains. I don't remember where, but I believe it was somewhere in Pennsylvania. In any case, the highway had a number of tunnels and he would get frustrated whenever someone would break down in one and force a huge delay.

One drive, he broke down very close to the exit of a tunnel he was in. There was a maintenance shoulder or something which he, with help, pushed his car over to and got it started pretty much right away. However, due to the angle, the only way he could get back out was to cross traffic and go back the way he had been coming. So he did, thinking he would simply turn around after exiting the tunnel going the other way.

He ended up at the rear of the clog WHICH HE HAD CAUSED.

I laughed about that one all the way home on St Louis' very flat highways.

leslyn said...

Matthew said...

Why are everyday people such jerks (getting impatient, selfish, dickish)? 4/2/12 10:11 A.K.

They generally aren't. The article was about the entitled snob. And the dicks aren't all entitled snobs. Just the majority them.

I suspect some people who are offended or hostile about this thread recognize themselves.

paul a'barge said...ust so everyone knows, this is a Brit piece. Over here in America, we don't pull up to a road closure and yell at the police. We (Americans) get the F' out of our cars and offer to help. 4/2/12 2:26 P.M.

That's a cultural assertion that just...isn't...true.

A few people who have useful emergency training do offer to help. The rest are jerks who want to gape at someone else's misery and get pissed off when you tell them to go back to their cars. In general.

Amartel said...

Leslyn, what a wretched opinion you have of the rest of us.
I drive a lot and I've never heard of or seen anyone hollering at the cops at a road closure or insisting on driving through or stopping to gape and then bitching about being asked to move along. Ever. Not saying such a thing has never happened in time, just that it's not a normal part of the culture. And I think you made that last one up, too, the one about people getting out and gaping at accident scenes. If your cultural assertions (?) can't be accurate they should at least be positive and hopeful like Paul a'barge.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Working a wreck is never made any easier by the people who have to slow down and rubberneck. It's amazing how people cannot see a Crown Vic covered in lights and reflective tape. They just have to see the gore that is potentially there.

The worst thing I have ever seen, was when i was first on scene at a motorcycle accident, where a biker who had too much to drink did not make a curve, and drove into a brand new barbed wire fence, which Veg-A-Maticed the rider. This was on a rural road, but it still wound up with 3 squads, the coroner, and an ambulance on scene.

I have never had anything happen to me like the British officer had, but even so, I am glad I have a big 25lb CO2 bottle in the squad. It would not be a pretty thing to live with.

Freeman Hunt said...

The rest are jerks who want to gape at someone else's misery and get pissed off when you tell them to go back to their cars. In general.

You know that they're jerks who want to gape at someone's misery?

Could they perhaps be regular people who lack special training but who want to see if there's anything they can do to help?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"It may be you on the roadway some day and you might appreciate the people who volunteer and who are paid to try to save your sorry ass."

How about a deal where you can drive where you want in return for that.

Oh yes. By all means. When the volunteer fire department or the police have temporarily closed a road to remove bodies, to wait for a tow truck to get the debris out of the middle of the road, trying to let an ambulance in by diverting traffic in order to save lives......let us NOT inconvenience your 'ittle self.

How crude to not let you just drive when and wherever you want no matter what the circumstances.

The volunteers are just chortling at the opportunity to screw up your day. Never mind that most of them probably had to throw up before manning the barricades to the accident scene. It really IS all about you.

Certainly...let us just shove this burnt out hulk of a car and the charred remains to the side of the road so you won't be late for dinner. After all, it is just a dead body and YOU are much more important.

Move those severed body parts and get that annoying human dreck out of your very smug and important way.

rhhardin said...

They like to feel important. I got that.

leslyn said...

Amartel said...

Leslyn, what a wretched opinion you have of the rest of us. I drive a lot and I've never heard of or seen anyone hollering at the cops at a road closure or insisting on driving through or stopping to gape and then bitching about being asked to move along. Ever. Not saying such a thing has never happened in time, just that it's not a normal part of the culture. And I think you made that last one up, too, the one about people getting out and gaping at accident scenes. If your cultural assertions (?) can't be accurate they should at least be positive and hopeful like Paul a'barge.

My opinion--and fact-based assertions--are informed by experience. I'm sorry I don't have a study and statistics to cite you, but I don't know if one has ever been done.

I don't have a wretched opinion of "the rest of (you)." Just certain segments of the driving public, and certain unfortunately common aspects of human behavior.

And I think you made that last one up, too, the one about people getting out and gaping at accident scenes.

I didn't.

Freeman Hunt said...

"The rest are jerks who want to gape at someone else's misery and get pissed off when you tell them to go back to their cars. In general."

You know that they're jerks who want to gape at someone's misery? Could they perhaps be regular people who lack special training but who want to see if there's anything they can do to help?

Yes.

No.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

They like to feel important. I got that.

I hope you are pinned in a car upside down in the middle of a rural road or in the median of a busy highway someday.

Those self important volunteers and paid rescue workers might just deign to help you. Assuming they haven't read this thread. Otherwise, they really have better things to do.

Patrick said...

I don't doubt that there are people who are rubberneckers, watching the wreckage, but I always am skeptical of reports of "gawker slowdowns." People slow down around accidents because it makes sense to. People are around, and upset, not necessarily watching where they are going. Kids could be on the highway. Emergency personnel are arriving and working. Yeah, people ought to slow down, and most do.

rhhardin said...

They gave Barney Fife only one bullet and made him keep it in his pocket.

I propose that as a correctly run police department.

Compare and contrast.

shirley elizabeth said...

It may have been changed since your posting, but the story actually says, "The inconsiderate and those full of their own self-importance who believe that access is their right."

Blue@9 said...

rhhardin
They like to feel important. I got that.

No, they're actually doing something important.

Are you an assclown in real life too?

Kit said...

Thank you for your 7:39AM comment. My days are always better when I keep that in mind. Starting my days with the St. Francis prayer, goes a long, long way in that regard.

leslyn said...

@Patrick:
Yes, it's a good idea to slow down while traveling through accident sites. The difficulty is in getting people to move along through the zone. You might try looking at officers' body language who are directing traffic, and see what you think.

"Gaper's block" occurs in moving traffic. The situation where people leave their cars to gape at others' misery occurs when traffic is at a standstill and the lanes are fully blocked. One can recognize these folks because they do not offer to help; they bring their cameras/cellphones with them; and they tell you to get out of the way so they can see. Sometimes they bring young children with them. They may ask a question, but usually it's "Did anybody die?"

These people are, admittedly, a minority. Most people stay in their cars and let the emergency personnel get on with their work.

leslyn said...

Amartelsaid,

I drive a lot and I've never heard of or seen anyone hollering at the cops at a road closure or insisting on driving through or stopping to gape and then bitching about being asked to move along. Ever.

I'm not saying this happens all the time. However, when it happens it may occur without other witnesses from the driving public around.

John Lynch said...

This is a powerful story about the narrator watching a man burn to death... that the narrator then hijacks and turns into a parable about courtesy.

I don't believe it. The original story had a new ending tacked on.

The main story is rich in detail, the end is abstraction. There's a full story arc, with the same sense of doom as "To Build a Fire," when the reader realizes that the tale can only have one ending.

If the same author wrote the whole thing I have to wonder why he did it. It's like going to a memorial service and talking about yourself.

Alex said...

File this under "civility bullshit". It seems that nobody is really interested in being civil to everyone. Especially when there are revolutions to be own.