Friday, April 24, 2009

A Little Excitement, BIG Response

I ran my new scooter into a ditch last summer. (I’ve learned how to turn it since then.) No major damage, but as I was standing at roadside nursing a banged forearm and dealing with blood from my ring finger, several passersby stopped to check on me. A volunteer fireman pulled over in his pickup truck. Then came an ambulance, a highway patrol officer and—TA-DA—a fire engine!

Hey, it's nice to feel loved, but this was ridiculous. My scooter was the only vehicle involved. There were no serious injuries, no gasoline spill. (I rode the scooter home.)

I heartily applaud our emergency responders for their daily diligence; they save many lives. I had to wonder at the time, though, whether this procession was really necessary, and how much my small adventure cost city and county taxpayers.

Mark Twain, in Pudd’nhead Wilson, described a comical fire scene in an 1850s Mississippi River town. “[T]he fire-boys mounted to the hall and flooded it with water enough to annihilate forty times as much fire as there was there; for a village fire company does not often get a chance to show off, and so when it does get a chance it makes the most of it. Such citizens of that village as were of a thoughtful and judicious temperament did not insure against fire; they insured against the fire company.”

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