The Fable of the Darkened Street Lights

Nestled in the charming woods of Highland Park are six 17-story apartment buildings. This is Mornelle Court, a community of some 3000 residents.

The most interesting thing to happen in Mornelle Court recently: for the past 21 days the street lights have been out. As week followed week and the darkness continued, I started to wonder if there was a serious problem with the wiring that would have baffled even Thomas Edison.

Earlier today I mentioned this strange situation to the building manager. She replied, "Oh, yes, I noticed they were out." I asked her who she called about this, but she simply shrugged. I took that to mean, "Hey, I only work here."

I began to suspect that the problem wasn't, in fact, a technical fault but an extraordinary example of what Douglas Adams called "SEP" (Somebody Else's Problem).

At 8:30 AM I called Toronto Public Works. The problem was news to them, but to their credit, the lights were fixed within 12 hours.

So here was a community of three thousand people, every one of whom figured, "Somebody else must have reported this by now!" I was tempted to feel smug and proactive. Then I realized that for three weeks I'd been thinking precisely the same thing.

I'm sure there's a moral to this story, but I'm not sure what it is. Oh, well, I'm sure somebody who reads my blog will figure it out and tell us about it.

Email  |  Permalink  |  Re-read  |  Top  |  FAQ  |  Archive