Vol. 12, No. 3,009 - The American Reporter - October 19, 2006

Make My Day

by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
Syracuse, Indiana

Printable version of this story

SYRACUSE, Ind. -- "Do as I say, not as I do," was one thing my dad was fond of saying when I was a kid. While he never actually directed it toward me -- he held himself to the same standard he held me to - he said it to illustrate how people had double-standards, and expected others to live by their rules, while refusing to live by them themselves.

Think of Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Newt Gingrich, Henry Hyde, Bill Clinton, Dan Burton, and any other politician or religious leader whose wagged their fingers at the public about morality and family values until it was revealed they did the things they were wagging about.

I'll let you make your own jokes about Bill Clinton and wagging.

But sex isn't the only thing that falls into the "Do As I Say, Not As I Do" category. According to the Bonehead of the Day Award (http://bonehead.oddballs.com) and a story in the Monterey County (California) Herald, it's happening at the Salinas City Fire Department.

The Department received a "Government as good as it gets" Bonehead Award after the their administration center caught fire on Wednesday, September 4th and suffered severe smoke damage.

Normally this wouldn't be a big deal - stories of fire departments catching fire have been the subject of numerous sitcoms for years - but after this fire, it was pointed out that the administration center didn't have any sprinkler systems, smoke detectors, or alarm systems.

"Ha ha," you're saying to yourself. "What an odd coincidence."

But it gets better. Fire Marshal Norcliff Wiley's office is in the administration center. The Fire Marshal is the guy in charge of making sure people have sprinkler systems, smoke detectors, and alarm systems in their homes, commercial and industrial buildings.

Or as the Department's own Website (www.ci.salinas.ca.us) puts it: "(The Fire Marshal) conducts building inspections, fire investigations and building plan checks relative to fire prevention."

If you were to look up "irony" in the dictionary, you would find a picture of Norcliff Wiley with a look of stunned astonishment.

"Tell me about it - I'm the fire marshal and it's my office," Wiley told the Herald. "How much worse can you get? The irony ... I just can't ignore."

The building was built in 1974, eleven years before a city ordinance required all buildings to have appropriate fire prevention equipment. And because the building is not a house or commercial building, they're still not required to have it.

At one point, someone had made a proposal to install the necessary equipment, which Wiley supported. However, he believes the cost of the system has prevented the city from installing it, regardless of whether of the hypocrisy that the city's fire prevention guy doesn't have fire prevention equipment in his building.

There is also no word as to whether the cost of repairs will be more or less than the original prevention system.

However, despite the glaringly obvious opportunity to lead by example, Wiley says he can't require anyone to install the equipment, because it's beyond the scope of the fire code, and therefore, out of his hands.

"I can't even require my own employer, the city of Salinas," he said. "It's not my job."

By an amazing coincidence, the "it's not my job" attitude is being seen on various roads in the United Kingdom.

According to a recent story in England's Sun newspaper (official motto: "We've got topless women on Page 3. Let's see the Times do THAT!"), road workers employed by the Frome, Somerset city council are sticking to the "it's not my job" principle as if it were a new Commandment hand-delivered by God.

Their job was to paint white lines on the shoulders of the road. Sounds pretty straightforward: see a shoulder of the road, paint a white line on it.

So what do they do when they find a dead badger lying on the shoulder of the road?

Do they move it? No way.

Do they call a supervisor and stand around for two hours waiting for him to show up so he can move it? Not even close.

They paint right over it.

They don't move the badger, they don't take a shovel and flick him into the grass, and they don't call People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to have a proper badger funeral. They just look at him, shrug their shoulders, and keep on painting.

Think that's an isolated incident? Think again.

It's so bad that Jerry Lerman, owner and moderator of the Bonehead of the Day Website has created the "UK council yellow line bungle bonehead award," which he gives to anyone who can't paint lines on a road. Lerman has even suggested that the UK should be banned from buying yellow paint altogether.

You're probably asking, "it's not that bad, is it?"

Apparently it is. Since August 12, Lerman has given the UKCYLBBA (possibly pronounced "ucky-leeba") four different times to four different city councils in the UK for the "it's not my job" attitude displayed by their road painters or police force.

One crew was so bad, they painted around an orange traffic cone rather than move it. Another created an eight yard long curved bike path. And in Edinburgh, the police ticketed hundreds of cars for parking on a yellow line, two days before the line was painted. Apparently the crew couldn't find any cones or badgers on the road, so they skipped it. (The Edinburgh council refused to revoke the tickets in a majority of the cases).

So what does all this mean for Salinas Fire Marshal Norcliff Wiley and his smoke-damaged office? Probably nothing, until it comes time to paint his office.

Then he can just stick a dead badger to the wall and see what happens.

Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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