The Ridiculous and The Sublime

A brief story in Yahoo News tells of the ridiculous behavior of some people:

OSHAWA, Ont. – A southern Ontario man says he will fight the $5,400 bill he got from a fire department for rescuing him after he went through the ice while fishing.

Neil Robbescheuten, 62, was ice fishing on Lake Scugog earlier this month when a dense fog rolled in and he became disoriented trying to find his way back to the shore.

The Oshawa man says he went through the ice in a marshy area near some bulrushes so he was able to pull himself out onto a tree stump while he called 911 and three firetrucks responded to rescue him.

He later received the invoice of $5,392.78 for the rescue and says he plans to fight it because he worries it will make people think twice about calling emergency services when they’re in trouble.

Scugog Fire Chief Richard Miller says . . .  the temperature was warm and rainy that weekend and the local conservation authorities had issued warnings urging people to stay away from bodies of water.

I don’t believe for a minute Neil’s claim that his concern here is that others will not call for assistance if they fall through the ice — as though they will be thinking of Neil and his plight as they struggle to free themselves from peril. More than likely Neil is just pissed off because he got a bill for the help he received in extricating himself from the ice. Or he is just embarrassed. Let’s face it, he did a stupid thing in face of the fact that warnings had gone out to stay off the ice and he went out anyway.

We seem to have yet another example of a man who simply doesn’t want to accept responsibility for his own actions and would prefer to turn attention elsewhere — his own and that of others who hear about his experience. He chose to ignore warnings and go ice fishing when he shouldn’t have done so. He has no one to blame but himself and should shut up and pay the firemen — and be thankful they came and pulled him out of the water. Indeed if everyone were punished who took unnecessary chances that require others to risk their lives to save them there might be fewer stupid people doing risky things. I would suggest that Neil might be a good candidate for this year’s Darwin Award for stupidity. If they gave awards for ingratitude, I would certainly nominate him for that as well. No wonder he wants to direct attention elsewhere.

While mulling over Neil’s behavior, however, I came across the following story that restores my faith in human nature. It centers around  a group of 13 members of the University of Iowa’s AirCare unit who were returning from a memorial service in honor of three of their members who were killed in a helicopter crash. After their meal, as they waited for the check at Applebees, the waitress told them the bill had been taken care of. She showed them a note written on a napkin by an anonymous patron:

“For all you do and in memory of your team mates … This meal is on us.”

From the ridiculous to the sublime! We need to read more stories about the good that people do and fewer stories about stupid and ungrateful people like Neil.

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8 thoughts on “The Ridiculous and The Sublime

  1. I do find that the number of people that go out on dubious ice surfaces and risk life and limb to snowmobile or ice fish in Ontario is just bizarre. Every year without fail . . . .

  2. A lot of Minnesotans and Iowans do the same, despite all the warnings about thin ice. I’ve got an 11-year-old nephew who rides his snowmobile on frozen rivers in southwest Minnesota because there’s a lack of substantial snowfall the last couple winters. Fortunately the river levels are fairly low, so they are better to be on than a lake. But if he still were to hit open water, he may not drown but there’s a serious risk of hypothermia. It really upsets my mother (his grandmother). On the Iowa AirCare unit, that was a heckuva gesture. That helicopter crash happened just south of us, and one of the three on board lived two blocks from us in Forest City. Real dedicated guy. Our emergency workers put themselves in harm’s way more often than we think, plus often have to deal with a lot of grisly or tense images and emotional scenes — for which they often do not get paid a whole lot. And sometimes, as in volunteer fire departments or ambulance crews, they don’t get paid at all. That’s a heckuva service they provide, and it was nice to read about some recognizing it. Thanks Hugh!

  3. Ha! Darwin Award for Stupidity! I think I’ve earned a few of those over the years. I love the rounding out of your piece with the heart warming story of the generous gratitude shown to real heroes. Thanks Hugh – Ilene

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