Make My Day: LEARNING TO LIVE WITH LISTERIA
by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- Prior to 2001, the only thing people had to worry=
about dying from in California were earthquakes, forest fires, extreme hea= t, sunstroke, drought, mudslides, Jay Leno's chin, the LA Freeway system, a= nd the Academy Awards. Apparently now rolling blackouts can kill you, too. =
Food poisoning, rioting and looting, and panic-related heart atta= cks are all risks that Californians face if they're caught in the wrong pla= ce at the wrong time during 20 to 200 hours of anticipated rolling blackout= s. And if estimates are correct, close to 300,000 people could die as a res= ult of the blackouts (more on that later).
According to a recent story in the Los Angeles Times and on = National Public Radio's "Weekend Edition Sunday," the California Public Uti= lities Commission will grant exemptions from the 20 to 200 hours of rolling= blackouts they're anticipating this summer.
Applicants were asked to explain -- under penalty of perjury --why = their business or agency should be granted an exemption. However, the PUC w= ould not allow economic hardship to be a reason for an exemption. So, of co= urse, death of patrons, customers, clients, or innocent bystanders became t= he number one reason most applicants gave to leave their power running. =
Understandably, some businesses are granted automaticexemptions, lik= e hospitals, kidney dialysis clinics, defense outposts,air and sea transpor= t communication outposts, and radio and tv stations that broadcast emergenc= y information.
But let us not forget those unsung heros who, with the help ofelect= ricity, could save hundreds and even thousands of lives, if only they didn'= t have to suffer through a rolling blackout. I'm talking about lawyers, den= tal offices, beauty salons, hotels, restaurants, churches, dance and gymnas= tics studios, liquor stores, real estate offices, and even cemeteries. = Take La Scala, for example (I bring it up only because it was in the LA = Times story). This upscale (i.e. snooty) Beverly Hills restaurant claims th= at anywhere from 26 to 100 of its patrons are likely to die of food poisoni= ng "depending upon how many guests are in the restaurant during a blackout,= and how many guests are subjected to contaminated food."
In other words, if you're sitting in La Scala when the lights goout= , you have bigger problems than your American Express Goldtaniumite card be= ing rejected:
1) The food they serve you may be contaminated because there's no po= wer to the refrigerator.
2) Even though they have already admitted they know the foodcould b= e contaminated, they're not going to throw it away.
3) Instead of throwing away the contaminated food, they're going to= serve it to you.
4) They are going to serve it to you, even though they have no way = of cooking it, since the power went out.
5) They can't cook it because they either have no power to the stov= es and ovens, or they can't see in the dark to begin with.
6) Despite their alleged "upscaleness," they're not going to war= n you that this uncooked food was in an unpowered refrigerator, and may= be contaminated, so you could die if you ate it anyway. Never mind if it's= too dark for you to eat it in the first place.
7) Even though they're an upscale restaurant whose reputation is ba= sed on providing excellent food at high prices, they're going to take a cha= nce that they kill off a significant portion of their clientele, no matter = how many multi-million dollar lawsuits they'll face.
Patron: I'll have the Pork Tartare, my wife will have the Chicken F= ilet, cooked rare, and the children will have Anthrax Surprise.
Waiter: W= ould you like a side of raw eggs with your Pork Tartare?
Patron: Yes, that would be fine.
The same argument has made by Stephen Server, owner of A Perfect Af= fair, a Santa Ana caterer. Server believes that he could inadvertently kill= anywhere from 100 to 1,000 people by serving his bacteria-laden food.
But Galley Catering downplayed their lethality: they were only goin= g to kill one to three people, with 100 to 1,000 minor health problems. And= Golden Crust Bakeries of Valencia believed they would kill one to three pe= ople as a result of cheese spoilage.
According to the article, most of the applicants, while making thei= r doomsday predictions, admitted they did not have a backup generator or ot= her contingency plan. According to a spokesman for the engineering firm ask= ed to rank the seriousness of the claims, more than 300 companies each say = 1000 people could die as a result of their own negligence.
You can just hear the cackling as every lawsuit-happy attorney in C= alifornia comiles a list of restaurants who have said they're going to serv= e food in a blackout. They're huddled like vultures, salivating over the pr= ospect of the billions of dollars in legal fees they're going to make. = You would think the restaurant patrons are a little smarter than to eat = contaminated food at a blackout restaurant. But apparentlyrestaurant manage= rs and nightclub owners don't think that highly oftheir clientele.
The House of Blues in West Hollywood wrote on their application,"Pe= ople who have consumed alcohol can become overheated very quickly as well a= s [fail to use] good judgment in remaining calm."
In other words, not only do these people not have sense enough to c= ome in out of the rain, they don't have sense enough to drink water or leav= e an overheating building.
Yes, let's salute the food service professionals of California.They= 're concerned about their customer's safety, not about throwing away= spoiled food or wasting money. They want to make sure that every customer = gets a great meal, even though it could be his or her last. They're more co= ncerned about everyone enjoying themselves, and not wasting their time buyi= ng liability insurance or backup generators.
All of this makes me wonder what excuse the cemeteries gave.