What Does Mandatory Mean?

We were in Sea Isle City when the "mandatory evacuation" for Cape May County was signed by the Governor, but apparently mandatory means different things to different men-- despite the mandatory order to evacuate, we hung out on the beach Friday with a number of other stalwart vacationers, as the weather was beautiful (the weatherman said, "DO NOT BE FOOLED!") and the water wasn't particularly rough . . . I went for a swim and then Alex and I were skim-boarding when a lifeguard in a sand vehicle informed us that there was a mandatory evacuation and the beach was closed . . . but when I asked him if we had to leave the beach, he told us we were free to stay, and then another lifeguard talked to us while we were skim-boarding, and after advising us that there was a mandatory evacuation, he said that surfers were allowed to surf but people weren't allowed to swim (and, of course, I had already deflated my paddle-board) and then the next lifeguard we saw told us we couldn't skim-board and advised us that there was a mandatory evacuation and suggested, because of traffic, that we "stay the day and enjoy the beach," and then he told us we could go into the water ankle deep but that he was "going for a swim because he could," and he hated to bother us except that his boss was right over there, and for the rest of the day we watched the lifeguards cruise up and down the beach, busting people and not busting them for various infractions (Alex skim-boarded a few more times, but then got busted again) and, finally, we packed and "evacuated," which actually felt more like driving home in some traffic than an actual evacuation and I think next time they either need to get some people with bullhorns-- because that's what I imagine when I hear the word "mandatory"-- or else say we "strongly suggest" that you leave town.


Whitney said...

All "mandatory evacuation" really means is that the emergency services personnel are no longer officially tasked with helping people. You're on your own. As your governor explained to you in comically plain language.

It's a CYA so that they can send their people to safety and not get sued later that a lifeguard had to put his or her own life in danger to help some fat, hairy Italian who ignored the repeated warnings in favor of figuring out that skimboarding is for tiny little kids and poseur masochists, all while a hurricane rolls in.

The problem is that then human emotions get in the way, and that lifeguard crews don't wash their hands of it like they could, but instead stick around, knowing some idiot will drown if they don't.

As such, there are varying degrees of "get the hell out of here," and your blind reliance on the judgment, wisdom, and up-to-the-minute meteorological awareness of a handful of 22-year-olds who've been sitting on the beach for hours and probably getting stoned -- simply because they represent some form of authority -- and your chronic need to defy and outwit any and all authority figures based on loopholes and discrepancies as well as your innate belief that you know more than everyone else -- all of this is why casualties are greater in natural disasters than they need to be, and why we should all be thankful the storm wasn't worse or Dave surely would have been killed.

Of course, they ordered a mandatory evacuation in my neighborhood, and I stayed. For most of the same reasons. Except the skimboard thing. Friggin stupid.

Dave said...

we actually left friday night, but lecky did north brunswick proud and stayed the night. and you may be right, whit, but EVERYONE i talked to told us not to leave, even the guy coming to check on the house and make sure the deck furniture was put in-- and they were right! it didn't get bad until saturday night.

kevin m. brady said...

"deflated my paddleboard" sounds like a euphemism

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