2018-02-28 / Opinions & Letters

Reality check

Midwest Memo
by Alan Shultz

“If we’re going to be buddies, Better bone up on the rules Cause don’t nobody bring me no bad news.” from the musical The Wiz, music by Diana Ross

Americans don’t like tattletales or complainers. It’s not a good thing, or a bad thing, it’s just our thing, it’s how it is. Maybe this trait traces back to our forefathers taming of the wild frontier, maybe not. But it’s a truth, American’s don’t like them.

Every weekday morning, I pass a big sign on the way to work. The sign reads: “If you see something, say something.” There may be some fine print of attribution on the sign, but I’ve not seen it. I don’t really know who it is admonishing me this way.

A quick Google search suggests that “If you see something, say something,” is registered to the Homeland Security Department of the Federal Government. I don’t know – it’s catchy, I’ll grant you that. Maybe I owe them some kind of fee now that I’ve repeated it here twice.

But friend, I’m not buying the message they are selling.

Tattletales and complainers are pretty much persona nongra here in these United States.

I’ve been a slow learner on the subject because my natural inclination is to say something. But it almost always gets me in trouble.

The narrative surrounding this latest school shooting down in Florida only reinforces my feeling on the subject. In the aftermath of the tragedy, the Commander-in- Chief was on television encouraging folks to report potential/perceived trouble to authorities. But the facts clearly indicate that many folks reported their fears of this clearly deranged gunman - reported to deaf ears and to no avail.

When you “say something” and then immediately are made to feel foolish or bothersome - well a lesson is learned.

And this truth crosses the political aisle. The Obama Administration prosecuted government whistleblowers like no other administration in history. And former British Intelligence Officer Christopher Steele reported Russian meddling in our elections only to earn wrath and threats from the next administration.

When our daughter was quite young she had a classmate with real obvious behavioral problems - knives, swears, threats - those kinds of things. When we took our concerns to the school - the administration wanted to hear NONE-OF-IT.

When our entire family contracted salmonella food poisoning from a fast food restaurant in White County, everyone in authority went into “hear no evil” mode. Although the incident logged almost 200 victims - the entire affair was hushed into oblivion. The local hospital treated us like aliens when we suggested they should have followed up after our emergency room visits - once they saw a pattern and identified the outbreak.

Midway through the salmonella crisis I called the CDC – the federal Center for Disease Control. I was genuinely alarmed over the local handling of the affair as the numbers of victims grew and one death occurred. Apparently, I came up ALIEN on the CDC caller ID - because that’s how I was received.

Listen to the way folks are often treated on the 911 tapes played after tragedies. Then tell me “say something” is a genuine policy. In Chicago a recent tragedy involved an annoyed 911 operator who angrily hung up on the caller in need.

Recently, I came upon the traffic roundabout on 6th Street near the White County Hospital. As I slowed, an ambulance headed east came upon the roundabout. Instead of going right in the roundabout, the ambulance went left, a shortcut, which saved five seconds but almost caused a head-on crash.

Because our windshields almost touched, I got a real closeup of the “drop dead” look from the ambulance driver. That look comes to me every time I think of “saying something” to the Monticello fire officials. No thank you. I don’t need to be run over…. twice.

I called my Congressman’s office recently. I had written him on the subject of the separation of church and state. His reply was non-responsive. Now I was on the phone and going to “say something.” Unfortunately, the annoyed young lady who answered the phone had taken the same class that the ambulance driver did. She didn’t actually say “drop dead,” she merely conveyed it.

“If you see something, say something.” Great lip service. Catchy phrase. But be forewarned… Americans still aren’t real open to hearing something.

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