Maxed Out 

Part of the problem or part of the solution?


Woof-woof. Now what?

I’ve always been drawn to the metaphor of the dog who catches the car. I mean, of all the weird and wacky behaviours dogs fill their lives with, chasing cars ranks right up there with letting some dog pee on your nose because you’re so intent on sniffing his bum you don’t notice he’s hiking his leg. Even that, one could argue dogwise, at least stems from some bizarre social/identification/survival thing going on somewhere in the Primitive Cortex of the dogbrain when bumsniffing is afoot.

But chasing cars?

Even the most unrepentant tirebiter would have a tough time explaining that behaviour were he suddenly given the power of speech and reasoning, both of which I suspect dogs might be capable of if they weren’t so distracted by their outsized noses and the ever-present belief a human is going to walk into their life at any moment, treat in hand.

Where is the upside to chasing cars? If you chase and catch, for example, other dogs, something interesting is bound to happen. They might play with you, chase you back, relinquish their ball, exchange sniffs, pass along coded gossip. Worst case scenario, they bite you, in which case your human servant lavishes love and treats on you for being a victim.

Chase people? What could be more fun. They either like dogs and will scratch your ears or they hate and possibly even fear dogs. Bonus. They might kick in your direction but most of ’em aren’t very good at it.

Chase bikes? Fair match.

But cars? Too fast, too big, too deadly.

So the image of catching the car is absurd. And that’s what gives the very idea both its humour and its David-and-Goliath cachet. What a victory to actually catch a car. What a pain in the bum. What do you do with it once you’ve caught it? Quite possibly it would be such an anticlimax chasing cars just wouldn’t have any appeal in your future.

And so it is with me and consultants. I know, that seems like a rather abrupt leap from dogs chasing cars… but bear with me.

By and large, I’ve been chasing after and barking at consultants off and on for, oh, about 560 columns now. Sometimes it’s the absurdity of watching the muni hire consultants to ferret out what seems on the face of it to be sun-rises-in-the-east information. At least that’s the way I interpreted a consultant’s report nine years ago when, having deferred any action on affordable housing for almost a year awaiting the report, the muni was rewarded by learning that (a) the situation had grown worse, (b) it was even worse than expected, and the denouement that made all the time and expense worthwhile: (c) it was going to get worse before it got better. C’est miracle! Like a ballpeen hammer to the forehead… enlightenment.

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