Quote of the day/week/however long

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does."
~William James

Friday, July 30, 2010

They Shouldn't Be Alive

 Have you signed your Privacy Act Waiver, sir?

A group of Scouts and their leaders walk into the Grand Canyon with too little water, no marked trail and no survival plan.  A pair of teenagers in a junky rowboat paddle directly into a massive ocean rip tide.  A father and son in Turkey go skiing without checking the weather report.  An ATV lover drives into empty desert alone, crashes his vehicle and is pinned underneath for days.  Newlyweds take a walk in the Amazon jungle, arguing too intensely to remember to drop cookie crumbs behind them.

You got the optional rental insurance, right?

Madam is only a moderately rabid survivalist, preferring a dinner of veal oscar and a nice white wine to wickety grubs, and she would rather sleep on 500-count sheets with a scented candle in a quiet room than on a hippo-ridden jungle mud bank swarming with starving mosquitoes.

Nevertheless, she is riveted to the Discovery Channel to watch people for whom that river bank doesn't seem such a bad deal at the moment, and to Animal Planet to watch Darwin Award nominees like the fisherman sticking his fingers into a shark's mouth, since it must be dead.  A man flapping a newspaper at a rutting bull elk.  A wildlife photographer clicking off half a role of shots of a grizzly bear and two cubs advancing upon him with clear purpose.  An out-of-shape and drunken American targeted by a very fit and clear-headed bull in Pamplona.  A woman shooting flash photos directly in a half-tamed elephant's face.  A large man mauled by a very small pony who has finally had enough of this.

Wonder what he's going to do next.

There are times that Madam is convinced that not only should these individual humans not have survived their personal attacks of freeze-brain, but the entire human race is doomed to face a revolution in which all other animals will rise in exasperation and stomp us into paste, every one of us.  Any limping, disoriented survivors will be driven away from air conditioning, central heating, hand-knit fisherman's sweaters, pizza delivery and chemically treated water to suffer the fate of the terminally out of touch.

And well deserved, would say the three-pound Chihuahua who shouldered the responsibility of administering Madam's most recent reminder of what animals really think of us.

Until that particular Revolution, however, we consular officers need to remember to stay in regular, positive touch not only with police and hospitals, but also with tour companies, public bus stations, cafes and coffee houses in all population centers however modest, and hoteliers of all levels from the Sheraton through respectable B&Bs to the owner of the four rooms over the train station, reminding them that should lost or troubled Americans wander into their facility, we will be happy to take the Americans' calls.

Our wardens are masters at distributing such dual-language business card-size reminders listing numbers for ACS and the duty officer, and the ACS email address that is closely monitored by a bright and savvy ACS local staff member.  So that until the ponies and Chihuahuas and the earth itself finally get their turn, we'll take their calls and assist however we can.  However hard we laugh as soon as we hang up.

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