Aside from Bankers and others who now languish in the "robber baron" class, there are other professions too that seem to be in the category of getting no praise for getting it right - and tons of rubbishing if they get it wrong.
Hong Kong has just experienced its strongest winds in over a decade. A city where we used to more regularly experience typhoons that were a direct hit on us, and where the original "illegal structures" used to get blown away, and people died. We began to recognise the force and fury of these acts of nature! Nothing, I might add, like the tornados that seem to sweep through the mid-west of the USA with what seems to be increasing frequency and huge devastation, but nevertheless, enough to make you want to stay well inside.
So it was last Monday. What started off with a general storm warning signal being hosted, indicating that there was some blowy weather in the vicinity, eventually saw that storm pick up speed and ferocity to the extent that by the end of the day it had become Super Typhoon Vicente, and was heading reasonably close to Hong Kong.
The rapidity with which the storm developed came as a surprise to the folk at the Observatory, to the extent that they started to caution the public about the likelihood of higher storm signals being raised quite quickly. Flights into and out of Hong Kong were being increasingly affected, and in mid afternoon the Observatory warned that the signal No. 8 would probably have to be hoisted around 5 pm.
For those unfamiliar with Hong Kong's warning systems, there are only 5 numeric warnings; 1 which is cautionary, 3 which suggests that wind speeds are increasing and some precautions should be taken to bring in plants and chairs. Then the signals go to 8, 9 and 10. From 8 onwards, businesses close down (if they are open - and don't open if it is up in the morning).
A warning in advance helps people who have a long way to go home to make those arrangements, as with an approaching storm public transport becomes less frequent and in a big storm stops altogether.
So far so good, you might think. Businesses and staff had the necessary warnings in good time. They could make orderly arrangements to close up. Travellers could start to make enquiries about their flights.
As things turned out, the Observatory was correct with its warnings, and as the night progressed first the number 9 signal went up, and then the 10. By morning, even though the Super Typhoon had moved away, the signal number 8 was still up - but the Observatory said it should come down around 11 a.m. (For Hong Kong, businesses are expected to re-open two hours after the number 8 is lowered).
Result of the Typhoon? Lots of damage, although mostly trees and general debris. Some flooding - although not nearly as bad as experienced in Beijing last week, and lots of flights delayed or cancelled. Deaths? Nil.
And the public view? Anger because warnings were given two hours before the 8 signal went up, and a Book Fair had to close, losing money for the vendors. Anger at the airport because passengers "just had to get to their destination" - forget the fact that planes could not take off, or land for that matter.
And if there had been a death? There would have been anger because that had happened, and the Observatory obviously did not warn everyone soon enough.
I think some people need to grow up. If you can control the weather - then you can make a lot of money for yourself - but you can't! So why take it out on the Observatory and even more importantly the poor staff who have to remain at work dealing with loud mouthed boorish oafs, of both sexes, who think their lives are so important they have to defy nature. It is not the check in clerk who caused the darned typhoon.
And why doesn't the media look for people who are not whining about the situation? Oh, sorry - naive rhetorical question.
And as for the Observatory? Continue to do what, in your judgement, you think is the best for the safety of Hong Kong but just recognise you'll never get thanked for it. Well, not always - Thank you.