Rob's Soapbox Archives

October 25th, 2010


Our show has been based in Sacramento, California since May, 1999. I’ve never been very fond of the area, the people, the culture, the attitude, the climate or the surroundings, but other than that, it’s a great place.

In all seriousness, I have written and talked extensively about the negative energy that surrounds the town and engulfs the people; it’s not a pleasant place, and never before has that been on display more prevalently than in the wake of a major fire at the Roseville Galleria shopping mall.

That’s right; a mall fire has taken the region to lows never before seen or imagined. That’s about right for the area though, I suppose. Only something as trivial and embarrassing could shine the light of transparency on how wretched the people in this community are.

I’m still trying to decide who is the most pitiful of the bunch; the group of people that are devastated that they “lost their mall,” or the group of people continuing to attack local fire and police officials for allegedly botching the entire operation and worsening the damage.

The fact that so many people define their identity by a shopping mall is pathetic, but almost understandable given the other choices. The best thing about Sacramento is that if you drive 2 hours in any direction, you get to a nice place, so it’s hard to find much about the region to embrace. Thus, over the last few years, many folks have decided that a big building with stores in it was as good a place as any to become the place to be seen. So be it; it’s fitting for the area. Having people proudly brag about regularly hanging out at the Roseville Galleria is about what I’d expect of the region.

You need look no further than the local rag, the “Sacramento Bee,” whose headline three days after the fire read “Roseville adjusts to life without Galleria,” proving further that the city’s very identity is attached to inanimate steel surrounded by cookie-cutter satellite stores found in any metropolitan area; ah, the uniqueness! Headlines such as “San Francisco adjusts to life without the Bay,” or “New York adjusts to life without Times Square,” or even “Denver adjusts to life without the Rocky Moutains,” would all make sense and imply an event of devastating and tragic proportions. Adjusting to life without a mall? That’s just putrid.

Even with that understanding and acceptance of the class of people that populate the area, it was still surprising even to me to see the total hubris, selfishness and vanity in the stream of people who continue to lament and mourn the fact that they can’t visit their precious shopping mall. A little relativity and perspective would go a long way in these peoples’ lives. Perhaps a trip to Detroit? Maybe a visit to Darfur, just to get a taste of what actual suffering is in light of your inability to head to Bebe for the day? Just a thought.

More embarrassing, in my opinion, has been the growing sentiment that cops and firefighters should be blamed and chided for the outcome (an outcome, I remind you, which resulted in an arrested suspect, and zero injuries or lives lost). 

People are outraged that the police “wouldn’t allow the firefighters inside,” and that the “firefighters were afraid of a backpack,” and that the cops “should have known that a crazy kid rambling about aliens wouldn’t have explosives.” That last point, at the time of this writing, remains to be proven; which has also led to my favorite conspiracy theory of the day: The SWAT team will go into the mall, find nothing, then plant a detonated explosive device, which they will then proudly display to the media in order to justify their actions from the very beginning. Cue the black helicopters, please.

Cop haters unite; there are few people on earth I have less regard for than those of you who find time in your lives to hate cops and take other first responders for granted. I would wish upon you a fate in which you found yourself in need of a law enforcement officer one day and they never came; but sadly, the truth of the matter is that they will come…and they would come even if they knew you hated them, because that’s the kind of people they are.

The further truth of the matter is that the cops and firefighters who arrived on scene and followed as backup handled everything perfectly. They did not prematurely evacuate the mall, they waited for indications that this particular madman might be of a greater danger. Once discovering that, the mall was evacuated without stampede or incident. They detained and arrested the man, who then claimed not only that he had a backpack with explosives, but that he was working with a second individual inside.

Here is where the story falls apart; nonsensical, irrational people claim that at this moment the cops should have deduced that the man was lying; that there was no danger in the backpack and that there was no accomplice and in the process should have stormed, haphazardly into the mall, securing the area and saving the day for Brookstone! We, apparently, expect our cops to be psychics now as well. Officers and firefighters have a creed for behavior in the field that begins with protect themselves first (because dead cops don’t protect a lot of people and dead firefighters don’t save houses). But the truth of the matter is much deeper; they’re people. Cops and firefighters have families, children and loved ones who wait everyday for them to come home safely from one of the most dangerous jobs in America. For generations, millions of them have never come home in the name of serving others, and the families have proudly mourned the loss of the fallen knowing that they had saved babies, the elderly, even pets that mattered.

On 9/11, hundreds of cops and firefighters died rushing into buildings to save human life; now 10 years later, the Northern California community of Sacramento has emblazoned itself forever as the city that demands its cops and firefighters rush haphazardly into dangerous buildings to save stuff; only stuff. No one’s personal stuff, either; stuff that was owned and fully insured by businesses who will recover its full value; stuff that had yet to become of any sort of value emotionally to any person, anywhere. Yet we are told that the cops are idiots and the firefighters are cowards for letting stuff burn. It’s a new day and a new low. Stay classy, Sacramento; few cities could show such ignorance and wretched lack of regard for the finest amongst them, but you found a way. I always knew you had it in you.