Deleted Scenes: Apathy In The Time Of Cholera

As I sit here and type—late on Sunday night as has become my sleep-depriving ritual—there have been over 250 deaths attributed to a recent cholera outbreak in Haiti. According to the country’s health commissioner, there are more than 3,000 confirmed cases in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, including in the capital, Port-Au-Prince.

That, my friends, is how much it sucks to be poor.

Not that I’d know. I’m not wealthy by any stretch, I don’t come from money, but I get by. I drink when I want, go out to dinner when I want. Part of this is because I’m irresponsible with what money I make, but even more than that, it’s a class issue. Even at my most broke, I never had to fear about not having a roof over my head, gas in my tank.

You know what I did this weekend while those people were dying of cholera in Haiti?

I bought a ukulele.

That’s right. A ukulele.

It cost me $132, and I got it off eBay with free shipping. It’s an acoustic/electric, and I bought it so I could plug it into an old bass combo amp I’ve had laying around for a few years, get a Big Muff pedal, a wah, some delay, and tool around and maybe make some goofball drone project out of it. That’s me. That’s what I did this weekend.

You know how to treat cholera?


The most effective treatment for cholera is what’s known as ORT: Oral Rehydration Therapy. Quite literally, it’s the replacement of the fluids and electrolytes lost from the vicious diarrhea cholera gives you. That’s it. You don’t even need Gatorade. If you’ve got clean water, in all likelihood, you can successfully treat cholera. Hell, if you’ve got clean water, you’re not going to get cholera in the first place. If, on the other hand, you’re drinking out of the same river where you shit because your infrastructure was never rebuilt following a devastating earthquake 10 months ago, cholera is (apparently) a possibility.

I don’t even know how to tune a ukulele, let alone play the fucking thing.

People on this planet are shitting themselves to death, and I’m buying a ukulele. I should add to that sentence the word “drunk.” I’m drunk, buying a ukulele.

The pattern for this column seems to be that every week I point a judgmental finger at someone in the news or some circumstance and call somebody an asshole. Well, I know that people dying in Haiti of an utterly preventable disease has literally nothing to do with me—that it’s just not about me, no matter how much I may pretend otherwise in this column space—but this week, I’m the asshole.

And how about that earthquake? It’s been 10 months and they’ve still got people living in tents. Sounds awful until you think of Katrina victims in New Orleans staying in FEMA trailers until the noxious fumes of the decaying cheap plastic walls forced them out. I’d have moved to Texas too.

Maybe that’s what we should do for Haiti. Maybe we should just tell Wyclef Jean (who seems to be the only one who gives a crap about the situation) to rent a yacht and start making trips back and forth between Haiti and Texas until the country’s 9 million-plus people are clear. We can get him a little captain’s hat and everything. Lauren Hill can be Tennille.

Say what you want about the logistics, at least it’s a solution. And, as I can’t even get through writing this without throwing my self-involved ass into the middle of it, it’s probably the best one you’re going to get out of me. Hey, it’s not my fault. I’ve got a lot of things going on. I’m expecting a very important package in the mail any day now.

Strumming aloha ‘oe,

JJ Koczan