by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
June 3, 2005
RIOTS AT REAL ESTATE AGENCIES?
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- Prior to 2001, the only thing people had to worry about dyingfrom in California were earthquakes, forest fires, extreme heat, sunstroke, drought, mudslides, the LA Freeway system, and Jay Leno's chin. Apparently now rolling blackouts can kill you too.
Food poisoning, rioting and looting, and panic-related heart attacks are all risks that Californians face if they're caught in the wrong place at the wrong time during 20 to 200 hours of anticipated rolling blackouts. And if estimates are correct, close to 300,000 people could die as a result 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 Utilities 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 would not allow economic hardship to be a reason for an exemption. So, of course, death of patrons, customers, clients, or innocent bystanders became the number one reason most applicants gave to leave their power running.
Understandably, some businesses are granted automatic exemptions, like hospitals, kidney dialysis clinics, defense outposts, air and sea transport communication outposts, and radio and tv stations that broadcast emergency information.
But let us not forget those unsung heroes who, with the help of electricity, 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, dental offices, beauty salons, hotels, restaurants, churches, dance and gymnastics studios, liquor stores, real estate offices, and even cemeteries.
Take La Scala, for example. This upscale (snooty) Beverly Hills restaurant claims that anywhere from 26 to 100 of its patrons are likely to die of food poisoning "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 go out, you have bigger problems than your American Express Goldtaniumite card being rejected:
1) The food they serve you may be contaminated because there's no power to the refrigerator.
2) Even though they already know the food could be 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 stoves and ovens, or they can't see in the dark to begin with.
6) Despite their alleged "upscaleness," they're not going to WARN 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 that it's too dark for you to eat it in the first place.
7) Even though their reputation is based on providing excellent food at high prices, La Scala is going to risk killing 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 Filet, cooked rare, and the children will have Anthrax Surprise.
Waiter: Would you like a side of raw eggs with your Pork Tartare?
The same argument has made by Stephen Server, owner of A Perfect Affair, 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 going to kill one to three people, with 100 to 1,000 minor health problems. Golden Crust Bakeries of Valencia also estimated they would only kill one to three people as a result of cheese spoilage.
According to the article, most of the applicants, while making their doomsday predictions, admitted they did not have a backup generator or other contingency plan. According to a spokesman for the engineering firm asked 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 would think the restaurant patrons are a little smarter than to eat contaminated food at a blackout restaurant. But apparently restaurant managers and nightclub owners don't think that highly of their clientele.
The House of Blues in West Hollywood wrote on their application, "People who have consumed alcohol can become overheated very quickly as well as [fail to use] good judgment in remaining calm."
In other words, not only do these people not have sense enough to come in out of the rain, they don't have sense enough to drink water or leave 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 concerned about everyone enjoying themselves, and not wasting their time buying liability insurance or backup generators.
All of this makes me wonder what excuse the cemeteries gave.