Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay

– written by Otis Redding and Steve Cropper
– lyrics as recorded by Otis Redding December 7, 1967, just three days before his death in a plane crash outside Madison, Wisconsin
– #1 for 4 weeks in 1968

Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun
I’ll be sittin’ when the evenin’ come
Watching the ships roll in
And then I watch ’em roll away again, yeah

I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

I left my home in Georgia
Headed for the ‘Frisco bay
‘Cause I’ve had nothing to live for
And look like nothin’s gonna come my way

So I’m just gonna sit on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

Look like nothing’s gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can’t do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I’ll remain the same, yes

Sittin’ here resting my bones
And this loneliness won’t leave me alone
It’s two thousand miles I roamed
Just to make this dock my home

Now, I’m just gonna sit at the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away
Oooo-wee, sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

When I was a young man I liked this Otis Redding song. The music more than the sad lyrics, but I never imagined how I would be thinking about this song as I read a news article about first responders watching a man drown in ‘Frisco Bay. (NEWSER) – A “major policy change” is coming to a Bay Area town after a team of firefighters watched idly as a 53-year-old man lost consciousness and drowned in the frigid waters of San Francisco Bay on Monday. KGO reports that water rescue and training were dropped from Alameda’s firefighting budget two years ago; it has since relied on the US Coast Guard for any water rescue. But Raymond Zack, who may have been suicidal, was standing up to his neck in water too shallow for a Coast Guard boat to enter.

One Alameda resident said

This just strikes me as not just a problem with funding, but a problem with the culture of what’s going on in our city, that no one would take the time and help this drowning man.

Another Alameda resident, Jenne Olgeirson said:

The police arrived while the man was still standing in the water and watched as he drowned. He then “bobbed” in the water for at least 30 minutes while they watched with binoculars. They did nothing. There was no boat and the helicopter did not arrive until after he had been pulled from the water. He was only 100 yards off the shoreline and the water was not choppy. Because there were no attempts made by the police, an off-duty nurse dove in and dragged the man to the shoreline. It was sickening and absolutely unacceptable.

Another onlooker, Sharon Brunetti, said she was stopped on Robert Crown Memorial Beach by Mr Zack’s stepmother, who asked her to call 911 as the man had threatened to kill himself. Mrs Brunetti said

Mr Zack gradually inched out further and further into the water, before next thing he was floating face down. Witnesses were shocked no firefighters went in to save him. It’s like you are living in a different country that does not care about its citizens.

Interim Fire Chief Mike D’Orazi said he directed staff to write a new policy that would allow commanders at the scene to attempt a water rescue in Alameda following the ‘troubling’ incident.

The incident yesterday was deeply regrettable. But I can also see it from our firefighters’ perspective. They’re standing there wanting to do something, but they are handcuffed by policy at that point.

This news is both troubling and contrary to people I personally know or have witnessed on TV after disasters at the World Trade Center and in New Orleans. Let me go into more details about people I personally know from an incident that occurred near my office. On Oct. 20, 1987 a military jet slammed into the lobby of a hotel near the airport. I was working in another part of the state on that day, and so I can only tell you what others who were in the office told me. This office was headquarters for State of Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

Here is the Indianapolis Star article.

With his instruments dead, Teagarden couldn’t judge his altitude until he dropped below the cloud cover and saw the runway, but then he knew he was still too high to make the landing. Controllers gave him another option, banking hard right toward a second runway. As Teagarden started making the sharp turn, the joy stick locked up in the dead engine and he could no longer control the plane. He looked out at open fields ahead, hoping that’s where the $7.9 million jet would hit the ground, and he hit the eject button.

Moments later, as he hung helplessly from his parachute, Teagarden had the best view of what happened next.

The Ramada Inn was in an office park east of the airport and most of the guests were coming or going on airline flights so they generally checked out early. By 9 a.m. the lobby was fairly quiet except for employees were going about their routines. A salesman had stopped at the Ramada to make a phone call and had just stepped out into the parking lot when he saw the plane coming down.

First, it clipped the roof of a bank branch across the road and then slid on its belly across the Ramada parking lot pushing cars out of the way. The salesman, Thomas D. Murray, 37, Carmel, watched the plane go right past him, hit a grassy embankment and bump a few feet up in the air as it crashed through the lobby entrance. Murray might have been lucky, but he was still too close. The explosion created a fireball which quickly enveloped him.

Murray, the salesman, suffered third-degree burns over 95 percent of his body. He held on for nine days at Wishard Memorial Hospital’s burn unit and died on Oct. 29.

A handful of other employees and guests were injured, but none as severely as Murray and most got out relatively unscathed and stood there watching helplessly as the hotel burned.

In the photo you can see the building across the street from the Ramada that is next to the branch bank. This was my office. My boss was in the parking lot when this took place. Instead of just running to get in a car and get farther away, he went back into the office to warn everyone that a plane is going to crash. He saw the salesman, Murray running in the middle of the street, and he ran over to him and used his jacket and anything else he could find to put out the fire. People I worked with told me that my boss was a hero that day. I talked with him about it later, and he told me that he was scared. He also told me that he just could not do nothing. There were other guys at that office who also helped the injured and helped keep others calm.

The difference between the ‘Frisco Bay firemen and the Indiana government employees at the hotel disaster?  ‘Frisco Bay had those that could stand and do nothing…The Indiana folks had do to something!

Cross-posted at Unified Patriots