Friday, February 19, 2010

Safety overkill?

Last night we called the fire department. 5 minutes later we heard sirens down the street and a firetruck, two ambulances and cop car pulled up outside the Brussels interns flat. Within moments firefighters in full combat gear trooped up the stairs and into the flat. We stood awkwardly by.

Shortly afterwards, our potentially hazardous gas leak, which we were concerned might ignite the entire building due to the incredibly pungent smell was nothing more than the overpowering smell of waste seeping up through the pipes and into the flat through the boiler opening.

They smirked and joked as they left.

There are things that are simply taken for granted. That should we smell something strong in our flat and have any concern of its being dangerous we can summon the fire department to investigate. They came promptly in full gear, ready for any emergency. The policemen confirmed that we did the right thing, better to be safe than sorry. And of course, the entire operation is subsidized by the Belgian government to keep the citizens of Belgium safe.

Am I the only one shocked at how incredible that is?

Of course, being from Canada, I also assume that is how such institutions should function. I felt comfortable using it to assuage my mind.

I have also traveled enough to know that to get a government, country and citizens to function, expect and use such a system to the point where all aspects are simply taken for granted is, in fact, a huge achievement.

It is easy to complain about taxes, bureaucracy and the inefficiency of a socialised system. It is also incredibly difficult to take a country from an inefficient, corrupt bureaucracy and lack of any such systems to even a minor improvement.

Enough said, either you are from, have lived in, or traveled to any developing nation or country suffering from corruption and know how difficult the lack of such systems makes everything. From going from one side of a city to another, to planning an event, to seeking information. It would be great if every person in the world could enjoy the comfort of trusting and relying on such systems. Yet, if I had never been without I would never have enjoyed the entire experience so much last night.

Modernity certainly has its pitfalls, it absolutely comes with incredible gifts and perks simply unimaginable until they came to be expected!

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