Anarchistic musings from the end stall on Float 'A'
By Ed Sasser

Multi-tasking?  Bureaucrats

Eddy’s Chuck,* Alaska: 

While everyone here wears multiple hats, the term multi-tasking is more or less a big-city, mainland term.   Oh, I suppose I might tie a leader or two while the water in the crab pot boils.  I might cut a skiff seat while the epoxy on the clamped in-wale cures.  But, generally, our idea of multi-tasking would be something along the lines of fishing and drinking beer at the same time.

We've got a State capitol, though, where multi-tasking seems to be all the rage.  I'm not all that sure that it is really multi-tasking that is going on there.  It might just be the symptoms of shortattentionspanitus. Hard to believe that a place so busy can actually be part of Alaska.  I had to go there to testify on a bill this session.  Funny process.  Guess it's true that "folks who respect the law and love the taste of sausage should never watch either being made."

One of the laws we ended up with last year was a "boating safety" law that is really more about boating registration.  It's not a bad thing to have numbers on your boat; you might even get it back if it is stolen.  But in the large scheme of things, government registration of a row or paddle boat under 16 feet long doesn’t seem to be one of life's big priorities.  The only person in Eddy’s Chuck in favor of the law is Hubert.  But we don’t count him since he’s a retired multi-tasking bureaucrat himself and can be counted upon to be the one-eyed deacon in the Amen Corner for everything the government does.

(Belgo was paddling his kayak up Freshwater Bay the other day. He had an Uzi, a sawed-off 87P and a 9mm Glock in the bow of the boat.  He saw a trooper boat up ahead and got a sudden chill because:  he didn't have registration numbers on his kayak.)  That's how it is here now.

One of the multi-tasking bureaucrats I met in Juneau clearly was drawn to his calling because he only had to focus on short-term emergencies.  He became argumentative when I told him he wasn’t really multi-tasking but probably was suffering from ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).  He was curious enough to check out a web site on ADHD to see if he had the symptoms.  But when he got there he was confronted by this neat graphic. He promptly downloaded it for his fax coversheet and sent it to a lobbyist friend.  Never did get to double-click on the symptoms.

These experiences in Juneau have served us well here at the end of the shortest fjord between Ketchikan and Skagway.  Each time we get a visitor from the mainland who appears to be a multi-tasking bureaucrat we easily move into distraction mode.  That’s how we got Harriet buried at sea and how we recently handled the SaniCan inspector.

“How are you?” the inspector asked Stan at the floatplane dock.

“Oh, my hypochondria is in remission but I’ve been told to stay on my placebos for another two weeks just to be sure,” was his cryptic response. 

Once the multi-tasking bureaucrat is off balance, the rest of the team moves in.

“I’m looking for the village council president to see if you have installed portable toilets as required by law,” the M-T B declared. 

“Of course,” said Stan.  “That would be Abba the Palindrome. He’s up at the Laundromat.”

“Abba?” the M-T B queries. 

“Yes,” Belgo takes over, “we call him that because he goes either way.”

“Any Palindrome is a Pal-o-mine,” chimes in Eldridge as he stacks crab pots on the dock six high, blocking the M-T B’s escape from the work float that joins the floatplane dock to the main float.

“Yes, but…about the portable toilets”.

Bob Birch, owner of BobAir plays his card:  “Weather is closing in back in Juneau, sir.  If you want to stay the night, I can get you in the morning…”

“No, I’ll leave with you, I just need to be assured that a portable toilet has been installed and inspect it for compliance.”

We all point.  There it is on the corner of Main Float and Float A.

Satisfied, he returns to the aging Skywagon and leaves for Juneau.  We all high-five each other for a new personal best:  this M-T B never even touched land.  Time for some Eddy’s Chuck style multi-tasking.

One of these days we may actually have a SaniCan that, when you look into the hole, you don’t see the bay below.  Thing is, it seems to work fine the way it is now as long as folks follow the directions on the sign: “Prior to using, check below for kayakers.”

(*Eddy’s Chuck, Alaska is a fictitious place populated by real Alaskan Noodlers.)

Copyright © 1999-2000 by Ed Sasser. All rights reserved.


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