Monday, January 26, 2009

Love thy neighbor as thyself

93-year-old froze to death, owed big utility bill
BAY CITY, Mich. – A 93-year-old man froze to death inside his home just days after the municipal power company restricted his use of electricity because of unpaid bills, officials said. . .
Neighbors discovered Schur's body on Jan. 17. They said the indoor temperature was below 32 degrees at the time, The Bay City Times reported Monday.
"Hypothermia shuts the whole system down, slowly," Virani said. "It's not easy to die from hypothermia without first realizing your fingers and toes feel like they're burning."
Schur owed Bay City Electric Light & Power more than $1,000 in unpaid electric bills, Bay City Manager Robert Belleman told The Associated Press on Monday.
A city utility worker had installed a "limiter" device to restrict the use of electricity at Schur's home on Jan. 13, Belleman said. The device limits power reaching a home and blows out like a fuse if consumption rises past a set level. Power is not restored until the device is reset.
The limiter was tripped sometime between the time of installation and the discovery of Schur's body, Belleman said. He didn't know if anyone had made personal contact with Schur to explain how the device works.

Schur's body was discovered by neighbor George Pauwels Jr.
"His furnace was not running, the insides of his windows were full of ice the morning we found him," Pauwels told the newspaper.

Belleman said city workers keep the limiter on houses for 10 days, then shut off power entirely if the homeowner hasn't paid utility bills or arranged to do so.
He said Bay City Electric Light & Power's policies will be reviewed, but he didn't believe the city did anything wrong.

"I've said this before and some of my colleagues have said this: Neighbors need to keep an eye on neighbors," Belleman said. "When they think there's something wrong, they should contact the appropriate agency or city department."
Schur had no children and his wife had died several years ago.
Bay City is on Saginaw Bay, just north of the city of Saginaw in central Michigan.

What a sad, sad end to an old man's life, but what really astounds me is the fact that this person "Bay City [electric company] Manager Robert Belleman" could be so cold and callous in touting the company line.
He actually said he didn't think his company did anything wrong and basically blamed the neighbors for not "keep[ing] an eye on" the old man. I'm sure that makes the neighbors who went into Mr. Shur's house and discovered his frozen body feel good. Apparently they noticed frost on the inside of his windows and entered the dwelling. This was only four days after the electric company had installed a "limiter" on Mr. Shur's electric service.

I gotta tell ya, I used to feel nothing but contempt and anger for heartless bastards like this Mr. Robert Belleman from the Bay City Electric Company, but today I feel nothing but sorrow for them in their predicament. They are trapped inside a mind so unconscious of the real world around them that they have lost all compassion for their fellow human beings. People like him don't feel the universal love and compassion for other human beings. They don't relate to every other human being as being just like them. They don't realize the total joy that such feelings give to those of us who do.

So the lesson here is not that people like this manager and companies like Bay City Electric are scum. The lesson is that we as human beings need to nuture our love for our fellow human beings and encourage others to pursue a path that will lead them to such feelings and the freedom and the joy that it provides us on this short trip around planet Earth.


rainywalker said...

Rest in peace Mr. Schur. Where ever you are, your better off than here on Earth.

gacomeau said...

I found your blog after doing a google search for this @ss hole Belleman's email address. What a worthless piece of $hit. This Belleman guy deserves to have his tongue stuck to a cold piece of metal outdoors when it's -30 without any clothes on. We could put some of the people who have "limiters" in charge of watching him. There's going to be a special place in hell reserved for Mr. Belleman.

arrozconpollo said...

"Neighbors need to watch out for other neighbors" This flows out of the conservative dogma of "personal responsibility". Nothing wrong with these statements, but there's also nothing wrong with "civic responsibility" and "social justice". Conservatives have made the latter into terms equivalent to communism, which is ridiculous tripe. A little social concern by these PUBLIC employees would go along way to prevent a tragedy like this from occurring.

Why not inform the guy (a phone call, a face to face talk) about how the power limiting device works? Or have a little compassion and not cut off his power when the temperature goes below fucking 200 Kelvin. No, its this 93 year old's "personal responsibility", or the fault of his neighbors not "looking out for him" that this happened, not the heartless PUBLIC SERVANT.

I fear this is a direct result of tripe fed to us by "conservatives" like Bill O'Reilly, who also engage in the tactic of finding the home phone numbers and addresses of scoundrels or mere political enemies.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Thanks Arroz. You defined it well.

MountainLaurel said...

I've got tears in my eyes. With the guy being 93, he may well have not understood or forgotten the instructions.

The utility company should be prosecuted and that dude held personally liable. I thought there were laws against this?

Arrozconpollo, you really hit the nail on the head.

Hawa Bond said...

Gross. I mourn the loss of value for human life. Greed. Selfishness. Apathy. These and other qualities are spreading like a virus, and killing the human race.

Hawa, author of Fackin Truth Blog and Cleanse Master Remix

MacDaddy said...

The watch out for your neighbor stuff is used here to distract us from institutional responsibility. Do I hear lawsuit?

Lorna said...

I sent Mr. Belleman an email expressing my outrage at his callous indifference for this loss of life. It brings tears to my eyes as well, thinking of this man who fought for our country in WWII... now at his most vulnerable, and left at the mercy of a brutal winter.

I encourage everyone else to contact Mr. Belleman as well. His email address is

Cheron L. Hall said...

"They are trapped inside a mind so unconscious of the real world around them that they have lost all compassion for their fellow human beings."

So true. Many have become desensitized to real emotions. It's extremely sad to hear of someone meeting their end in that way.

How many people really know their neighbors anymore?

For a long time I thought my neighbor was a mean, weird looking, old, white lady who probably didn't speak to me because she didn't like black people. We all know what happens when we make ASSumptions...

One day she was carrying a television up stairs. I could hear her tussling and I looked out and I was on the phone...I walked out and just told her, "here, let me help you with that"...

she was a little startled because we only saw each other in passing (4 years of passing) she said, "well, my house is really messy"

I said, "its ok"...she goes,
"no, it's really bad in there"...

and gave me this look...I immediately figured she must be a hoarder and told her I would just drop the television at the door and I won't look in...I didn't...but I saw the floor was covered in mail at the entrance. I turned around and faced her...smiled...formally introduced myself,


we had a long discussion, turns out...she's a Hospital Chaplain...

Ouch...with all of the screaming I do in my house and cursing on the telephone with my ex...I'm sure she thought I needed help!

Evelyn is a cool lady...

SagaciousHillbilly said...

That's a beautiful story GC. Thanks for sharing it.
Preconceived notions are almost always wrong. Contempt prior to investigation is certain sabotoge.
Thanks for stopping by!