Ideal vs. reality

There’s often quite a distance between rosy official reports and what people see actually happening on the ground. It doesn’t mean things aren’t being done. It does mean the ideal and the reality are not the same thing.

A minor example of this often arises in the town’s CAO report. This is a state-of-affairs update that happens at the top of every council meeting. This is being done; that is being taken care of. We’re on top of this and we’re looking into that.

The reports often appear to be merely a re-statement of service levels. In practice there are all kinds of circumstances that result in those service levels not being achieved – at least not as envisioned. ‘Sidewalk clearing all finished as of yesterday’ is an example. Like hell it is. You happen to know of one or two stretches that are in terrible shape because they somehow got missed. Or the wind came up since the last plowing and drifted them over completely.

That sort of thing.

You have to assume this sort of gap exists in one form or another in all industries. Somebody was telling us the other day the company he works for has all the protocols in place you would expect to protect workers from the risk of COVID infection. But there’s an element of butt-covering in it, he said. They have all this nice-sounding stuff down on paper so they can show the authorities if asked. But what is happening on the job site is a different story.

It reminded us of another story about how ignoring safety procedures can result in horrible injury. The fellow telling it had been burned badly in a refinery explosion. There was a habit among the workers, he said, of disregarding company safety protocols. Everyone thought they were a joke. And the company didn’t bother about enforcing them, because as long as they were on the books their backsides were covered. Then, one day, boom, something happens and the worker spends the next 18 months in the hospital wishing he could just die and get it over with. ‘And for what?’ was his rhetorical question of the audience. ‘So I could prove how tough I was?’
In other words, safety measures are in place for a good reason. Just because nothing happened yesterday doesn’t mean it won’t today.

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