Blog: Free At Last

No, this column has nothing at all to do with the civil rights movement. Rather, it has everything to do with the compulsion of our senior citizens (me included) to finally get something for free. Stay tuned and let me tell my tale.

Not that long ago, June 27 to be precise, the City of Malibu held a mid-afternoon “Earthquake Preparedness Workshop” conducted by Susan Dueñas, our public safety manager, on how those of us over 55 years old should prepare ourselves when an earthquake strikes. (Lightning strikes, but I am not sure earthquakes strike.)

The council chambers were filled to capacity. We came on walkers, in wheelchairs and with canes, although many of us were still in full throttle. I had not seen so many people of my generation since I attended a Joan Baez concert a few years ago.

I was thoroughly impressed with how my fellow Malibuites wanted to be well informed, but then I remembered when my bride first told me about the event, “Honey, do you want to attend a talk about earthquakes at City Hall?” she asked. “Are you kidding?” I replied.

“They are handing out free emergency backpacks,” she continued.

“Of course I want to go,” I affirmed, switching gears completely.

Susan Dueñas was informative, as always, and she spoke before the backpacks were distributed. Had the order been reversed, I fear she might have been speaking to an empty house. Here we were, living in one of the most affluent towns in the world, and we were as thrilled to be getting something for free as children getting candy at a Halloween party. I was genuinely surprised Barbra Streisand and Bob Dylan weren’t standing in line with us to get their free backpacks.

For those of you who think I am a bit of a cynic (you bet I am), I asked a few people at the event whether they would have attended were it not for the handouts. “Are you crazy?” was a typical response.

Back in January of this year, an “Earthquake Preparedness Town Hall” was held without any freebies, and only 25 concerned citizens showed up.

If I am anyway representative of my age group, and I fear I am, I would come to almost any talk for far less than a red backpack filled with life-saving items. If the truth be told, my attendance could be bought for a large bag of Peanut M&M’s, and on some days, even for a small bag.

Recently, I wrote a humor column on the small earthquake which some of us felt back in April. I was soundly criticized by one citizen for making light of an earthquake and not using the occasion to educate the public. Although, more often than not, my goal is to entertain and certainly not to educate, I want to let it be known that earthquakes are serious business, so if you want to learn more about them, definitely do not read my columns but go to the city’s link:

And if any of you are handing out something for nothing, be sure to let me know. I will be there!

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