The Navy Times is reporting one of the more spectacular examples of irrational and highly destructive responses to COVID-19. An engineer who found the hospital ship, USNS Mercy, “suspicious” decided he would do something about it.
The man then drove his locomotive engine off the end of the tracks. Locomotives, being the massive solid pieces of physics they are do not stop quickly, even without tracks under them. So this locomotive smashed the concrete safety barrier, the steel safety barrier, the fence beyond those, bulldozed its way through a parking lot, smashed its way through the next lot filled with gravel, and finally smashed one more fence. Luckily, hurting nobody.
I would love to see the total distance traveled on this one. The engine stopped 250 yards from the ship. This was all because the engineer decided, in his own little mind, that he had to step up and indulge his illusions of grandeur and save Los Angeles from the big bad Mercy Class hospital ship that has been in operation since 1986. The hull was laid down as a freighter back in 1975, this ship didn’t appear out of nowhere.
But that didn’t matter to Eduardo Moreno, 44, now charged with one count of train wrecking.
Stress makes people act irrationally.
While we should strive to be more courteous than ever and keep ever in our minds that everyone is feeling the strain, realize that the strain can and will trigger events like this. There will always be a few. We can’t just will the irrational and afraid from our midst, partly because fear is a natural bi-product of heightened risk.
Now, more than any other time in recent history, more than 9/11 likely, we must be aware. Be conscious that people are going to act out. Some of this will be annoying, stupid, and overall harmless. Some won’t. It’s that group you need to be prepared to engage, deescalate, or defeat because they will threaten your life. They have made the choice that what ever crazy thing they are doing is necessary and they are somehow helping, or at least protecting their people.
I read a smaller scale account of parallel behavior yesterday, where a woman in mask, gloves, and googles was running at people with a spray bottle full of unknown liquid. The individual giving the account stopped the woman, verbally, by giving a very loud and sincere promise of the consequences of squirting with a bottle of who knows what.
Her response, paraphrased, “Someone has to do this.”
She was seen a few minutes later attempting to justify her actions to the police.
The spray bottle was, she claimed, just water. But what if had been bleach or another eye, nose, or mouth unfriendly chemical? What if had been some other mix? A bodily fluid? An infected bodily fluid? There are no good endings to squirting strangers with unknown stuff, but this lady did it. She justified it in her head somewhere that she was the one who had to undertake this thing.
Are you looking out for those whose fear has broken their reason?
With tensions high the people who are normally just absorbed by society and taken care of are able to run far more amok than usual. The strain bar has shifted. It can and will push more people to do weird and sometimes dangerous acts. Are you mentally and physically prepared to deal with this when it happens to you or near you? Have you thought about the steps of verbally engaging, physically engaging, and if necessary lethally engaging someone doing something that is just plain crazy?