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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » For Peat's Sake!

   
Author Topic: For Peat's Sake!
sndrake
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It's been a yecchhy week. This cold is probably something worse than that.

On the way home from work last night, I made a stop at the grocery store. There are some sections to the side of the store where flowers will go, and right now are covered with peat moss.

As I passed one section, I noticed it was smoking. On closer inspection, it was on fire, a patch at least 8 inches in diameter. I was ready to stamp on it but noticed it looked like there was already a nice bed of hot coals underneath.

(I wasn't surprised by this - I read enough stuff in my childhood - Sherlock Holmes, How Green Was My Valley, etc. - that the idea of peat as a fuel for fire was familiar.)

So I went into the store and had to try to explain the situation. Fortunately, I'm a regular and they didn't dismiss me as a flake. They were going to send somebody to stamp it out but listened to me when I insisted a bucket of water would probably be the best thing.

Anyway, it got taken care of. (it had spread in the time it took me to get someone)

I wasn't the only person who noticed this, btw. I was, however, the only person who actually went and alerted the store that there was a fire outside.

I don't understand. I didn't want to waste my time, either. But I didn't want to here later that the fire had damaged something or someone knowing I could have done something about it.

[ April 17, 2004, 04:20 PM: Message edited by: sndrake ]

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BannaOj
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wow, I've always wondered what burning peat looked like since I've read about it in books. Does it smell bad too?

Do you think it was that good samaritan syndrome where no one helpes?

AJ

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sndrake
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For good or for bad, I can't report on the smell. My smeller is not working properly.

I don't know what the heck the issue is - it's not exactly "good samaritan syndrome" because it didn't involve a person, just a potentially dangerous situation.

Personally, I think it's a conspiracy to keep my grumpy this week. [Grumble]

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saxon75
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How big is the town/city you live in? The reason I ask is that there's a well known psychological phenomenon called (I think) "diffusion of responsibility," wherein people who live around lots of other people show a marked tendency not to do anything about things that go on around them. People who live in small towns tend not to display this behavior. I think the concept is that when there are lots of people around, you can always assume someone else will deal with it. There's a famous study about a bunch of people who lived in an apartment building in a big city, none of whom called the police when they heard a woman outside being raped and then killed.
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sndrake
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It's a fair-sized suburb of Chicago. The case you're referring to was the Kitty Genovese murder.

Here's the thing though - we have a large immigrant population in town. Might just have been a matter of timing. Chances are that if someone who had immigrated from living in a small town came on the scene, they would have done something.

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saxon75
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I probably ought to have figured you knew about that. [Smile]
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sndrake
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Sax,

Nah, there was nothing in my post to suggest I had a clue to the dynamics. Your post was a good kick in the memory.

Now let me get back to being grumpy. [Grumble]

[Wink]

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aka
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It's really just a manifestation of sheep syndrome. We had a very funny smell in our building at work once. Strong indicator of a fire somewhere, smoldering and ready to burst into flames. My brother and I (who worked at the same place at the time) were the ones who insisted we call the fire department and do something about it. Everyone else in a medium sized office building assumed someone else was dealing with it and didn't worry enough to check, even when their own safety was at stake. What can I say? People are sheep. It's very weird to me. I'm not sure why we are not sheep in my family but we just aren't. I can't understand people who are. If people don't care about their own safety, do they think anyone else does? That's just strange to me.
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sndrake
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Well, I confess to coming from a family of nonsheep. Except for the odd black sheep, of course. [Wink]

I thought for a long time that a lot of my being out of step with most of the world had to do with my neurology. Some of it still does, but I come from a slightly strange family to begin with.

(And I am using "strange" in the good sense of the word.)

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