Friday, August 20, 2010

Urgent! Urgent!! Emergency!!!

Now that I have your attention. Your urgency is not my emergency, nor is it likely to be an emergency to most other folks.

We've forgotten the true nature of an emergency. Instant gratification has made us soft and completely impatient. We want assistance and answers and solutions, and we want them now! Drama Queens abound. A couple of weeks ago, a facebook friend posted, "I see the f-bomb being dropped a lot. F this, F that. What are you going to say when it's really serious? When it's really an emergency?" Amen, Bruthah D, amen.

Anyone who has paid attention to the news for the past couple of days, especially anyone in the Greater Puget Sound area, has heard about the sonic booms that were created by two F-15 fighter planes chasing a float plane out of closed airspace due to President Obama's visit to Seattle. The Pierce County 911 lines were jammed when they were flooded with calls by people worrying about the big noise. Big noise... cause for concern? Certainly. An emergency? Nuh uh. Some poor old guy having a heart attack because of the big noise? Yes, an emergency. Too bad he couldn't get through for help.

With all the heat here this past week, I've had the pleasure of listening to the neighbor kids splashing around in their pool. A couple of days ago, one of the kids started screeching and screaming as if his life depended on it. "Agggghhhh... NOOOO... Help!" resounded alarmingly through the neighborhood. I mean, the kid was shouting bloody murder, holy hell, whatever you want to call it. I was genuinely worried. I rushed downstairs from my studio, was about to run outside and save the day, when I heard his mother, "What!? What is it?" The kid whined, "There's a leaf in the pool!" I stood inside the doorway, livid. I had thought the kid was in real trouble, and my heart was lurching in my chest from the adrenaline rush, but no... there was a leaf in the pool. I could have throttled the mother for simply saying, "Oh," and picking the leaf from the pool. Really? Why not offer the kid a popsicle for being so damn brave?!

Back in the day, we'd run all over the neighborhood. We were not, under any circumstance, allowed to scream. In my mother's words, "Unless your hair is on fire, or you've experienced the loss of a limb, I do not expect to hear that kind of noise coming from you!" No doubt, getting caught screaming over a false "emergency" would have, indeed, given us something to cry about. By the time we were doing things that would possibly have caught our hair on fire, we were not about to tell my mother about it. And, no one ever did manage to lose a limb.

I have friends who gripe, with good reason, about those in their work worlds and the "emergency" issues that put them through the proverbial ringer on a daily basis. I remember those days well (and don't miss them one damn bit!), days where it wasn't enough to simply plow through my own work load without someone coming into the office in a panic and saying, "Oh my god! Help! The copier is jammed and I was supposed to get this sent out yesterday!!! Fix it! Fix it!!!" Clearly, two things were a little fuzzy in this person's focus (lack thereof), and had completely escaped their consideration. One was that, if it was due yesterday, it was already late and panicking wouldn't help. Two, failure to see the enormous pile of shite on my desk did not constitute the reality that I had enough of my own problems to deal with.

Mind now, I'm not saying that there is anything at all wrong with asking for help, just take it down a few notches. Casually approach the person whose assistance you're seeking and ask, "Excuse me, if you have a moment, would you be willing to help me with something?" There. See how easy that is?

So, my fine reading gang, it's obviously time to define emergency.

Emergency: ~noun
1. an unexpected occurrence or occasion requiring immediate action, help, or relief
2. a sudden instance of danger demanding immediate remedy or action
3. a patient requiring urgent treatment

Next time you scream and holler, kindly consider the above parameters. Is your little crisis truly an emergency? If it isn't, then calm down and shut up. Because, as Mom used to say, "One of these times you're really going to need me and I won't feel like listening."


  1. Do you think it is because today's children (people under 25) have never read or been read the classic fairy tales? They know Shrek but not Cindarella. Do they even know the story of the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf? I will not deny my occasional petulance. Sadly, I announce it, "I am stomping my feet and being petulant." I rarely act petulant. I even less rarely pull the emergency brake. I can be a shattered mess in the middle of the road and reassuring others, "No, I am fine. I got it." AND THEY BELIEVE ME. For some of us, what might constitute an emergency (are at least assistance) doesn't rank, but a child screaming bloody murder over his peas touching his meatloaf gets adults scrambling to appease his delicate feelings. Gimme a break, we are raising a generations of wussies. My ex always complained I never showed him much sympathy when he was sick (being a doctor myself). My response: I am not your doctor. And you don't get sympathy for your asthma attacks if your medicine sits unused on the counter and you SMOKE. And if you get really sick, have a heart attack or lung cancer...expect me to be PISSED.


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