I experienced the death at first as a minor annoyance. It was late, maybe two A.M., and I was tired. I wanted to get home and crash, but the overpass I needed was blocked off. I'd driven over it on my way out just a few hours earlier, so whatever it was, it wasn't road construction.
I made a detour, and from the next overpass down the freeway--which is oddly close, now that I think of it--I could see the commotion.
There had to be at least a dozen black and whites with lightbars flashing. Half a dozen paramedic vans and a couple of full-sized hook and ladder trucks. Looked like about fifty public servants of various stripes down there. Freeway traffic stopped in both directions, and backed up for miles.
Jumper. Off the overpass.
I knew the scene. I had seen it before, and I saw it again at a later date, albeit at an earlier stage. Traffic ahead of me had slowed around some road hazard. It looked like trash, then like road kill, then like really big road kill. Even as I passed it, it never looked like what it was, or what it had been. A human being. I made a call to 911, and while I was giving what information I could, the operator and I learned that the emergency vehicles and personnel were already on their way. That part's always going to happen, and it brings me back to why I'm writing this. As a public service.
All those vehicles, all those emergency agencies alerted and engaged, all those highly trained individuals racing to the scene. That costs money. Big money. And what's all that high-powered-get-there-right-now-with-everything-we-got urgency for? A body.
But before it was a mangled and unrecognizable corpse, it was a person. More importantly to the taxpayer, though, it was an opportunity to save some bucks.
If something more, maybe not even much more, than just a crumb from the smorgasbord of resources available to that body had been available to that person--perhaps what happened could have been circumvented. At a net savings. But way back when Ronald Reagan was governor, we ass-raped the funding to the mental institutions of the proud state of California, and turned those people out on to the streets. And onto the highways. Eventually.
So, I propose we take a little tiny piece of the taxpayer dollars we were going to spend anyway on processing the meat, and palliate the mental illness instead. To save money.
I'm just trying to be practical here.