I live in a community that has a homeowners association. I made the voluntary decision to live in such a community because I like the fact that I have a mediator at my disposal to resolve disputes with my neighbor when he leaves two or three old washing machines in his front yard. I pay a small monthly fee for the costs associated with running the complex and I get, among other things, access to a small open space area with trails for hiking and mountain biking. I also have access to a couple of swimming pools but, being Welsh, avoid them like the plague. As a member of the association I get a weekly newspaper that is mostly filled with ads promoting yuppie businesses in the area. Every once in a while an interesting article will appear in the paper. That was the case this past week.
A couple of weeks ago a resident in another part of my development came home and was surprised by a knife-wielding intruder inside his house. When confronted the robber immediately fled without any further incident. The homeowner called the cops and a CodeRED alert was issued. I had never heard of a CodeRED alert before but fortunately there was another article, on the next page of the paper, exhorting me to "sign up for CodeRED alerts." Intrigued, I looked into it. Here is what I learned:
"Residents are encouraged to sign up for CodeRED alerts, which allow the County to contact citizens to warn of danger such as inclement weather or criminal activity. With CodeRED the County can simultaneously call, text or email multiple phones within a designated area to warn residents of flood, fire, tornadoes, chemical spills, or dangerous suspects. Within moments, calls reach the affected community to deliver warnings and critical safety instructions."
I thought about the CodeRED alert for a while. Several thoughts came to mind. Have we all regressed to childhood status? Is nobody capable of acting like a responsible adult anymore? Must the government be there to cater to my every need? I don't know about non-Welsh people but we Welsh people have no problem knowing when our homes are about to be carried away by a flood. Yep, we pay attention to the sky. When it rains a whole lot and the river rises we start thinking about flooding. Of course we were smart enough to not build our shacks on the floodplain so planning for a flood mostly consists of finding a high place to sit down and watch as the Scots and the Irish float by in their fancy homes down the newly created river, waving wildly as they go. We return their frantic waves with a smile and shout of encouragement. We will usually say things like, "Did you remember to pay the insurance premium, you cheap Scotsman?"
The same is true for fires. Every single Welshman is able to recognize a fire and not jump into it. As far as I am aware no Welshman has ever voluntarily jumped into a fire. I once jumped into a fire, when I was a much younger man, but that was only because I had miscalculated how far I was able to go in a standing jump. Tornadoes are no different. When we see a tornado we watch it for a while to see what it is going to do. If it gets too close we go somewhere else. It is amazingly effective as a means of not being hurt or killed by a tornado. Chemical spills hardly even interrupt our day. Truth be told the primary reason for that is no Welshman has ever been caught in a chemical spill, unless you count the day Ian's spittoon tipped over. I guess we Welsh just don't see the universe as such a dangerous place as the yuppies I live with do.
Dangerous suspects are another issue entirely. We Welsh are accustomed to having people call the cops and report us as dangerous suspects simply because we are seen in public. I recognize that the CodeRED alert is designed to help people who believe they have seen a dangerous suspect but being on the receiving end of that program gives me an entirely different perspective about its effectiveness. Notwithstanding the multiple times I have suffered police harassment for being seen in public I can't understand the response of my yuppie neighbors to a "dangerous suspect," whatever or whomever that might be.
Going back to the burglary story...the article went on to say that, "A CodeRED alert was launched for the immediate area asking residents to stay inside and lock their doors." Fortunately not everyone followed that advice. One local resident was out jogging on one of the aforementioned paths when he came across a man who was clearly a bum and who was equally as clearly squatting on the association's property. The resident quickly figured out that this was our armed robber and managed to convince the poor fellow to surrender to the cops, probably by promising him three squares and a cot. The armed men in blue soon arrived and carried him off to their station where he was charged with first degree burglary and felony menacing.
As I read the story about the CodeRED exhortation to lock our doors and stay inside while the taxpayer financed professional protectors rounded up a drunken bum who was camping on our open space I could not help but think of Boston shortly after the bombing. Have we all become so infantile that we believe we are incapable of defending ourselves? Are we truly all so weak and frail that we must rely exclusively upon jack-booted thugs to protect us? My experience with the police forces in this terrified and cowering country is that they are far more interested in protecting themselves, government buildings and doughnut shops than they are in protecting my life and property. Under most circumstances I believe the police would be the last group of people I would call in a pinch, unless my intention was to escalate the situation and get an innocent civilian killed.
So I don't think I am going to be signing up for CodeRED. I don't have any PEDs (personal electronic devices) that could receive a message from my government anyway. If I see a suspicious fellow prowling about my neighborhood I will invite him into my garage for a Boddingtons. Only after he has consumed a couple of those will I be able to determine if he is a legitimate threat to my life and property and, if he is, he will be in no condition to do anything about it by then.