I was an involuntary fireman on two occasions last week, both involving rubbish bins. Neither initiated by me. It dismayed me, not because I was the fireman, but because I was far from being the first on the scene.
I hate to sound like a crazy ranter, but I was very disappointed in the atrocious lack of concern that was displayed by the throngs of people who were carrying out their daily business apparently oblivious to the fire that was burning so very close to them. I’ll clarify.
On both occasions I was walking through the city centre. It’s an open mall area with all the standard trappings of a shopping and business district. Benches for resting on, open-air dining areas, wide thoroughfares for those heading to their places of business or pleasure. Naturally, there are also rubbish bins for the disposal of trash.
There’s a section built into these bins for smokers. Now naturally, there will be times when smokers, like other people getting rid of their rubbish don’t make the basket. I can’t talk about lack of hand-eye coordination. On these occasions, a still smoking cigarette has dropped into the rubbish bin and has found a flammable friend. End result – evident smoke signalling a bin fire.
If this particular bin had been away from people, randomly placed so that only passers-by would drop their trash in it I’d be able to understand how it remained unattended for as long as it apparently had been when I happened upon it. The fact that people were sitting on a bench less than a foot away though, is something I found confusing.
Depending on which way you’re facing, the smoking, flaming rubbish bin is just a jump to the left – or a step to the ri-i-i-i-ight. And yet, three people sit, reading their magazines, eating their lunch, smoking their cigarettes as so many others walk by, all completely unaware of the flaming rubbish bin belching out a thick pillar of grey, choking smoke.
I was able to make my way to a store about 30 metres away, buy a bottle of water, get back, realise that I needed more water, return to the same shop, make my way back top the bin with two additional bottles of water and pour them all in before anyone else seemed to decide that action needed to be taken. I nearly needed an oxygen mask after dousing the fire in that bin and even as I was putting it out, two people simply wandered over and threw their rubbish in without even a word!
On Friday evening it happened again.
This time though, I suppose I can forgive people for not noticing this one. Short Stack were making an appearance in the Queen Street Mall. Um… So all the people standing or sitting around were teens from Generation Zzzz, who might have only noticed if I’d posted it on Twitter or Facebook.
Luckily, there was a smoothie shop right nearby and they did me the favour of giving me a container full of water to douse the fire in this bin. To the great distress and anger of the gathered teens who had to move because the water started leaking through the base of the bin and would have dirtied their black outfits if they’d stayed where they were. They were NOT happy about having to take one step forward.
Sometimes I wonder how some people manage to live life so astoundingly oblivious to their surroundings. Even more scarily, I wonder why they choose not to act if they DO notice.