Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Where am I? (Pray for the geographically impaired.)

A few weeks back, the day before my husband and I were leaving on vacation, there was a “catastrophic” pipe break that affected the water supply of a good slug of eastern Massachusetts.

Because the water authority had to switch to a less clean and pure reservoir source (Canada geese could be crapping in there….), a “boil order” was declared. I.e., we were told that we needed to boil the water we use to drink, cook, brush our teeth, and wash our dishes (unless we wanted to rinse those dishes in a bleach solution). Showering’s okay, as long as you don’t open your mouth.

I bought a couple of liters of water for us, and a few more for an elderly neighbor. (Talk about plague of locusts. The local stores were almost stripped clean.  I saw a woman interviewed on TV who’d just purchased $150 worth of bottled water. Huh? Did she not get the part about “you can boil it and make it okay”? Fights reported broke out in some stores. Gosh, what would people do if there were a real emergency?)

Anyway, we had our modest amount of bottled, and we boiled up about 5 gallons to tide us over until we got to Paris where the water would, presumably, be potable.

But before we left, I went online to see if I could find info on washing clothing, and general ‘wazzup’ on the broken pipe, the boil order, and the communities affected by it.

There was no info on laundry in the article, but I threw a load in anyway.

I figured that using water that a Canada goose might had gone in was really just the equivalent of swimming in a lake. And, as a child having bathed and splashed in a lake that was septic system fed rather than spring fed, I knew that if I could survive, then some sheets and towels could.

No, I wouldn’t have made baby formula or frozen lemonade with the hot and cold running Canada geese tap, but throwing my final pre-trip load in the washer seemed safe enough.

As I am known to do, I have digressed.

While on line, I read the comments made on an article on the broken pipe, the boil order, and the communities affected by it.

Boston was one of the communities.

In one of the earliest comments, Wannamker said,

I live in Allston... Am I not affected? I don't know if "Boston" includes Allston/Brighton or not.

MikeWa helpfully answered:

YES I THINK SO!! Allston/Brighton is part of Boston i think...do you have Boston Police/Fire?-could be a good hint? Better safe than sorry, boil anyway

Wannamaker, perhaps a recent blow-in from Philadelphia, given the nom de comment, came back to thank MikeWa for his boil anyway suggestion. Then returned to add:

And actually MikeWa, we have Brighton Police Department, and Brighton Fire... You're right about better safe than sorry though. No sense in risking it.

Several people jumped in to point out that there’s no such thing as the Brighton Police and Brighton Fire Departments, including dollylou:

HELLO! Multiple people don't know where the heck they live?? Yes, Allston/Brighton are neighborhoods of Boston. Sheesh! Get with the program.

Wannamaker shot back, pretty snidely, I’d say, for someone who doesn’t know where he or she lives:

Thanks dollylou. I guess we're not all as smart as you. Glad you are so mature about it.

I hate to tell you Wannamaker, but, at least when it comes to knowing where you live, dollylou is smarter than you.

Commenters continued to weigh in. GOP wrote:

I live in Allston/Brighton not Boston. Don't you think I know where I live. Shheeshhh!

Well, GOP, not to single you out, but it’s possible to live in Allston/Brighton and in Boston at the same time. It’s the miracle of named neighborhoods. Yes, in the way, way, way back, they were separately incorporated towns, but they’ve been part of Boston for, like, what, a kazillion years. Well before Wannamaker and GOP were born, I suspect.

rickterp did single GOP out:

You live in the City of Boston and specifically the neighborhood of Allston/Brighton. It's really not rocket science.

hubanero, meanwhile, delivered a haymaker to Wannamaker:

Wannamaker: No offense, but if you really don't know that you live in the city of Boston, and you think you've seen "Brighton Police" cars, I don't just think it's intelligence that's at issue.

hubanero may be right here.  It’s either hallucination or complete and utter lack of attention to what’s on the side of a patrol car.

The comments went on, including those from a couple of folks who sprung to Wannamaker’s defense, pointing out that they lived in Charlestown, which is on the map of Boston, but which is really not part of Boston…

Only it is.

The comments continued, interspersed with consistent opinions on laundry (okay) and inconsistent views on dishes (yes, no, maybe).

The comments ran on for page upon page, but I gave up at page 4. With respect to the ‘where am I’ comments, I’ll end with my favorite, this hilarious note from movingtarget2:

It says Medford is affected? I live in Medford. Does anybody know if Medford is in Medford? Do I live in Massachusetts?

Thank you,  movingtarget2.

So, here’s my question:

How can you be a sentient adult, aware enough of the world outside of yourself to make comments in online forums, and not know where you live?

I realize that Boston has distinctive neighborhoods, and things can get confusing.

There are multiple Beacon Streets, for example, so you really do need to know your neighborhood (or at least your zip code).

But it stuns me that someone wouldn’t know what city they live in.

Apparently, just seeing police cars and fire engines aren’t enough to clue someone in. I know, you don’t see property  taxes unless you’re an owner. (God, I do hope that people who own property know where they live.) Obviously, the folks who don’t know where they live don’t have kids in the Boston Public Schools.

And – most obviously and discouraging – they clearly don’t know or care about where they live. The clearly don’t know who the mayor of this city is. Or how the city is run. They clearly haven’t registered to vote. (Maybe that’s a good thing….)

Am I missing something here, or is someone knowing where they live a minimal expectation or not?


John said...

They live in the Republic of Facebook. What more does one need to know?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately this is further evidence of something I say on a regular basis: "The world is full of stupid people and they are reproducing."

J.L. Scott said...

I'd say I can see where it would be confusing to newbies - every neighborhood seems to have a town center, there are enough differences between neighborhoods to make each feel like a separate city, and unless you're outside of Boston you never say "Boston" when someone asks you where you live. If they're transplants they may still be voting in their home states.

That said, anyone who's ever gotten a parking ticket, read a sign, or felt the sting (or occasional pat on the back) from a decision the city administration has made can't possible ignore the overarching umbrella under which we all reside.

Jennifer Womble said...

Hilarious and concerning all at once!