Thursday, April 20, 2006

I Want To See Before and After Pictures

Hey, guess what happened yesterday – I’ve been the lone voice of dissent at Michele’s again… This time, it was regarding this article (the post is here).

The 20-Minute Toronto Makeover
It’s back by popular demand! Get ready
Toronto. It’s time to commit your participation in the City’s 3rd annual
20-Minute Toronto Makeover. Just like last year, Mayor David Miller is asking
all Torontonians at work, school or at home to stop what you’re doing on Friday,
April 21, come outside at 2:00 p.m. and do a 20-minute clean-up blitz around
your office, school or neighbourhood. Think how quickly we could clean and
beautify the City with just a small amount of time and individual effort!

Everyone seemed to think it’s a good idea. I, on the other hand, found myself greatly annoyed and pissed and I couldn’t even explain why.

Of course, there were negative flashbacks to my own childhood. Growing up in the USSR, we had a lot of these mandatory cleanup events. Some of them worked, others didn’t. Like, when we all spent two Saturday mornings every year cleaning up and winterizing (or de-winterizing, depending on the season) our campus in college, that worked great. When, in my first job at a manufacturing plant, we all got a day of work in spring to clean up the campus, that worked great. On the other hand, when we had to go door-to-door as kids, collecting old newspapers to be recycled… this, in retrospect, probably wasn’t such a good idea after all. Etc. etc.

I think what made an event like this successful was a combination of the following:

- It was our neighborhood. Our campus, our plant. We had a vested interest in keeping the area clean.
- We worked hard and were able to see the results. We had four to eight hours set aside specifically for this job.
- Tools were provided or we were asked to bring our own. At the plant, we received rakes, shovels, brooms, etc. etc.

In comparison, what we have here is:

- 20 minutes.
- Everyone receives a garbage bag and one plastic glove.

This is so pathetic. What can you clean in twenty minutes using only one hand? Allow me to illustrate. Do you have young children? If yes, then I would like to make you an offer. I would like to babysit your kids, absolutely free of charge, for a period of 20 minutes, with my one arm tied behind my back. It is a win-win situation. I get to feel good about myself and you get the rest you so badly need… Wait, what do you mean you don’t get any rest? I’m offering to slave for you for a whole twenty minutes using my one whole hand, you ingrate! Oh well, your loss. Deal’s off.

Another question I have is, is this 20-minute cleanup really mandatory for everybody? What about people working mission-critical jobs? What about policemen, fire brigades, EMTs, ER surgeons? If I am having a baby, will I have to wait twenty minutes before I can get on with my childbirth? What about the banks, will they lock the place down for 20 minutes or will everyone just walk out and leave the place wide open? Please help me out here.

I guess what aggravates me about this thing is an extraordinarily high level of bullshit it carries. I really have low tolerance for that. I’ve thought of it and I’ve thought of it and I just fail to see it as people helping their neighborhood. What I see is large groups of people who believe they are doing a good thing for their neighborhood, while in reality they are doing absolutely nothing. Oh well, everybody’s self-esteem will skyrocket. Something good at least will come out of this.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for volunteer work. However, I believe that it should be: a) voluntary; and b) work. This one is neither. It is instead some 20-minute, mandatory crapshoot.

Thanks for letting me vent. I feel better now.

The Goldie has spoken at 12:47 PM

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