Columns » Bob Lancaster

Bring it on!

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The dipwad FEMA guy has quit -- white of him -- and I'm herewith nominating ol' moi for the job. My credentials are every bit as good as Brownie’s — I made them up, as he did — and like him I have no qualifications or experience to get in the way. He got the job out of pity — an old college roommate hired him as FEMA furniture — and I’m real good at evoking pity. Lots of people feel sorry for me, or say that they do, in nasty letters and in person, and I’m certainly game if they want to bolster my self-esteem by installing me in a high-paying job with low expectations and no duties. Here are some of the reasons I should be the next FEMA head: • I don’t know the first thing about large-scale rescue operations. • I don’t know the first thing about crisis management. • I don’t have a clue what to do when quick action and decision-making are called for. By the horns is nowhere close to where I’d ever take the bull. • My policy is, when the going gets tough, what do they expect ME to do about it? • When something goes wrong, I believe in blaming somebody else, usually the victims or innocent bystanders. • I can brown-nose with the best of them. I can hold my own with the present FEMA director in every one of those areas, and if his hurricane-aftermath job performance delighted the president, mine will surely transport the big goof into ecstacy. The Three I’s — inaction, ineptitude, and indifference — are right at the top of my job-skills list. I’ve heard it’s expected of the FEMA director that he show up for “work” every once in a while, though I can’t imagine why. Couldn’t you just as easily be unheeding of mass suffering from home? Couldn’t you just as easily invent ass-covering scenarios from home? Why should I add my chauffeur-driven SUV exhaust to that of all the other do-nothing agency heads who only go into “work” every day to assure themselves that they haven’t been replaced or forgotten or outsourced to a cinder-block HQ in Calcutta or Guadalajara? I’ve got my own little putting green here at the house, and the complete Three Stooges on DVD. I’d never get in anybody’s way, or embarrass higher-ups by getting caught feigning industriousness. They could count on me never to become a part of the problem by pretending to be part of the solution. Don’t get me wrong. If they want me to go into the office once a week, or twice a month, I’ll be glad to do it, but if they don’t, I’ll hang out here at the house and let them direct-deposit and give the office space to somebody there who actually does something, such as one of the overworked spinners, or the Homeland Security director’s worm doctor. As far as experience goes, I should admit up front that I did rescue a cat from the top of a pin-oak tree one time. It was a haughty cat named Leontyne, named for the haughty opera singer. She had climbed into the treetop to protest something, perhaps Reaganomics, perhaps the English peas in the Nine Lives Savory Stew. I climbed to the top of a long metal ladder to retrieve her, and then had to shinny on up the trunk another 20 feet or so, a scary proposition for an oldtimer with the belly to bend a middling oak tree double. A clutch of neighborhood evangelicals held hands and prayed in a semi-circle at my ladder’s base – prayed for my safe return to terra firma and the cat’s. Leontyne was moribund by the time I reached her. The reason was, she’d been up there three days and nights before I got the rescue underway. I swear, papers and forms authorizing the rescue outnumbered the hairs on my head. An OSHA form concerning the ladder’s safety. A Health Department form vouching that the cat had had her shots. A waiver from the Fire Department turning down first rescue attempt rights. A homeowners’ exclusion lest I plummet. A movie disclaimer that the event wasn’t being staged just to get it on America’s Funniest Pet Rescue Home Videos. On and on. Another agency reg — the Department of Labor, maybe the Post Office — obliged me to first open negotiations with the cat. I never did get Leontyne’s signed permission, and I reckon if she had squealed post-rescue I’d have wound up sodomized at Tucker Prison and a changed man. A registered cat abuser ever after. For future FEMA employment purposes, I understand I would’ve been better off just ignoring Leontyne’s mews and leaving her to fate — never act until all excuses not to have been exhausted — but I hope to claim that the experience gave me valuable insight into FEMA-style emergency management. It gave me the FEMA perspective on what not to do in an emergency — i.e., anything. Oh, and I have a brother who once rescued a dog from a well. I’m thinking I’ll just doctor the resume regarding that one, making my brother myself, and, deaf to its woofs, letting the dog drown.

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