[The Phyne Dyner talks about his attempt to have a rare, quiet Shabbat dinner consisting of a rarely enjoyed piece of grilled steak and all the trimmings. It had been a good week, punctuated by a visit to his friends at Nagi’s Mediterranean Market and an equally enjoyable visit with folks at Russ’ Optical. The former was a trip to replenish the supply of Sicilian lemon juice. The latter, was to look at men’s eyeglass frames that did not look like row upon row of black, grey, and brown rectangles…marketed to the Amish.]
A man wakes up in the night to hear the sounds of an obvious break-in coming from the tool shed behind his house. He dials 9-1-1 and asks for police assistance. The 9-1-1 Operator responds in a monotone: “I’m sorry. We have no available officers. Someone will assist you as soon as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
The man arms himself and confronts the burglar. Holding the miscreant on the ground at pistol-point, he makes a second call to 9-1-1. “Never mind sending an officer. Send the coroner. I shot the intruder and I need someone to come and get the carcass.
Within minutes, a phalanx of SWAT officers and ten patrol cars converge on the homeowner. A police helicopter, its searchlight blazing, hovers overhead.
“The dispatcher said you shot the guy”, a cop says as the burglar and homeowner are placed in manacles.
“Yeah, well, she’s a lying b*tch. She told me that she had no available officers.”
Chapter One – Shabbos Interruptus
We had just uncorked the wine. The introductory songs to greet the Shabbat had just rolled off of our tongues. Our greyhound pranced around the table, hoping for another bit of Shabbat bread.
Suddenly, a black form flapped into the dining room from my study and the patio beyond.
“B-b-bat!” I yelled.
My wife looked at me suspiciously. She was in no mood for pranks. Her workplace was finishing almost four months of short staffing. She was tired from her week and just wanted to eat in peace.
Just then, the bat flitted over her head. At the time, it looked as big as a condor. Her eyes flew open and she jumped to her feet, screaming, “What do we do?”
I yelled for my wife to close all of the doors and to secure the dog in a bedroom. I told her to open the sliding door onto the patio deck. The first rule is always “contain the threat”. Hopefully, the bat would fly back outside, to its own Shabbat feast of mosquitoes and leave me to enjoy my steak.
My wife scampered through the house implementing my “battle stations” instructions. I kept an eye on the bat.
The winged plague (known rabies carriers) skittered into the kitchen and affixed itself to some wall art. We eyed each other from ten paces.
Her tasks completed, my wife returned to my side, always the faithful executive officer asking, “Sir. What are your orders?”
“What do we do?” my wife asked in a trembling voice.
“Jeez, do I look like friggin’ Marlin Perkins?”
A few minutes later, the bat remained on his art-deco perch and my wife hissed that there was “No !#$$%@ entry” for animal control in the phone book. “I’m calling 9-1-1” she announced.
I heard fragments of the resulting call. Those fragments told me that the Woman of Valor was unhappy.
“They said animal control goes home at 5pm and they don’t have anyone on call. I asked what I should do and the operator told me to try calling them in the morning. Other than that, she said I could always try one of the private pest removal companies.”
Likely, the unionized dogcatchers were fatigued after a full week of playing computer solitaire and needed some R&R time to recover and catch their breath. They left promptly, according to their contract, at 5pm each night.
[Note: In truth, the city abandoned its own animal control several years ago. Now, a volunteer-based animal rescue group “provides” dogcatching services to the city. These are not “real” volunteers, they volunteer only during convenient hours. Therefore, I pretend to pay my taxes, and the city pretends to provide me with services. Just like in the old USSR.]
Now, I have lived in some pretty far-flung places that some would regard to be located on the skin just inside the anal opening of the Republic. All of them had poorly groomed guys with bad dental hygiene who were employed by the hamlet as “Animal Control Officers”. Des Moines, Iowa has a little under 400,000 inhabitants, paved bicycle trails, city swimming pools by the dozen, and a plethora of obese and waddling female clerks. I was incredulous that there was no animal control at night or on weekends.
Removing rabid bats from citizen’s homes seemed, to me, to be a bit higher on the city services priority list than are bicycle trails. It’s a public health issue. I paid $250,000 to a private medical school where I learned that rabies is a bad hombre…100% fatal once symptoms develop.
[This was not my first experience with the sloth of 9-1-1 operators. I returned home one afternoon to see a scruffy young man hiding in my neighbor’s bushes. He attempted to walk nonchalantly to the street. Every time a car approached, he ducked down behind a parked car. Or, he would run up and hide in bushes surrounding a home if he had time to do so. I called 9-1-1.
“Oooo, that sounds really suspicious” said the operator in a mocking tone. Only after I secured her name and ID number did she promise to dispatch an officer to my neighborhood. The patrol car never showed up. F*ck 9-1-1.]
Chapter Two – Capitalism Unmasked
My wife picked up her phone. I kept eyes on the bat.
The telephone book informed her of a company willing to remove bats and they also listed the availability of an offered “emergency service”. A potentially rabid bat in the house fits my definition of emergency. My wife dialed the number and got an answering service.
“They promised someone would call very shortly.”
That was nearly twenty minutes ago. My wife re-called the answering service. She got a lecture on patience.
“F*ck patience. There’s a goddam likely rabid bat in my house.”
The line went dead after she got another lecture.
Twenty minutes passed. I took the phone from my wife and dialed the number.
It went downhill quickly. I heard all about “policy”, mission statements about “dedicated service” and nothing about Billy Bob or Jimmy Joe coming to remove the flippin’ bat. The contentious twenty-five minute verbal exchange ended when my call waiting informed me that the privateer dogcatcher, Billy Bob, had finally deigned to call.
“I’ll be happy to come get your bat”, the man identifying himself as “Wade”, said politely. “But you may not like the price.”
“Three-hundred and eighty-nine dollars, plus tax.”
“It’s a bat. Not a grizzly bear.”
“I know”, he sounded apologetic and understanding, “…the rates really jump after 9pm. I’m really sorry about not getting to you sooner. We’re getting fifty calls a night. It’s bat season. Like I said, the rates really go up the later it gets.”
I looked at the clock and quickly deduced why the return call was so slow in coming. I also did some quick math as I watched the still-unmoving bat.
“Holy buckets, Wade, that’s a butt-load of money from bats.”
“Oh, I only go out on about ten calls per season. People don’t want to pay almost $400.”
In my best, bored 9-1-1 Operator tone I replied mockingly, “Yeah, damn cheapskate consumers.”
[This drives home my points made to Dr. LaBaume and the falseness of the “capitalism” part of “anarcho-capitalism”. Where are the legions of competing bat-removal companies? If human “evil-doers” are substituted for “bats”, this is a micro-lesson on how von Miseans fail to grasp reality. They bring to my mind, the homely girls with the stringy hair and the perpetual pimple on their forehead, who were defaulted into staying home to read “Atlas Shrugged”. Their prettier peers went out on dates and had a shaggingly good time and the homely girls wound up believing in the Randian cult of “Objectivism” until their dutifully protected girl-parts dried up in middle age. F*ck capitalism.]
Chapter Three – Batman Rises
Wade and I chatted amiably for a few minutes. We discussed the pros and cons of different bat-capturing techniques. I thanked him for his time and he bid me success (and safety) as he took leave so I could deal with the flying, (likely rabid) mammalian interloper in my kitchen.
My “Woman of Valor” looked at me warily. “So, is he coming?”
“No. We’re on our own.”
She looked pissed, but her executive officer demeanor returned quickly. “What will you do?” (“What are your orders?”)
“What would John Galt do?” I asked in reply.
She held up a middle finger.
I retrieved my heavy lineman’s gloves, a huge plastic jug with a screw top, and put on my heavy, canvas and waxed barn coat. No bat, short of Dracula, could bite through my armor.
A few minutes later, the bat glared at me with its beady eyes from within his plastic execution chamber. He would never fly free again. I screwed the top on and pitched the jug, avec le bat, into the dumpster. I closed the sliding door and locked it. No more bat visitors until I got around to finding where the last one got in.
I sat down and finished my, now stone-cold, steak dinner in pissed off silence. My wife picked at her plate, tunelessly humming the Batman Theme.
Self-reliance rules the day. The state coddles its listless voluptuaries with amusements, bike trails, and pogey-bait for the Yuppies. In the vacuum left when the state abandons the common cause, predatory capitalism takes root, or libertarian socialism (voluntary, shared, mutual assistance) steps up.
It’s a mixed bag for the self-reliant individual. We are cajoled by the state into setting aside the emergency provisions we may need to care for ourselves for up to seventy-two hours. We put aside more than just the officially recommended dozen cans of tuna…
…and worry if our preparedness will be perceived by the state as “a military-style stockpile”.