on the topic of please: seriously?!

i’m taking this at face value: S.C. man gets $500 federal fine for soda refill

as a news junkie, i see stories similar to this one maybe once or twice a month. they’re head scratchers… head shakers… puzzlers to me. let’s break this one down ’cause i think there’s a lesson here.

try and stay with the class:

  1. man works on a job site at the VA hospital in my old home town, charleston, south carolina.
  2. man has a tasty beverage (no word as to what size or flavor) which he presumably paid for the first time – hence refill.
  3. man drinks some or all, and refills his cup.
  4. man doesn’t pay for the refill, but if he had, it would have cost him $0.89 (no word as whether tax was included) — i’m trying to be thorough here.
  5. as man turns to leave, THE CHIEF OF POLICE, grabs him by the arm and inquires as to the man’s intent to pay the $0.89.
  6. man declares he was not aware he had to pay; he admits he’s done this before (which presumes to support his ignorance of the policy).
  7. man offers, on-the-spot, to pay and the offer is denied.
  8. man is fined $525 – a federal fine as he was on federal property.
  9. man is permanently barred from the property.
  10. man loses his job; his employment is contingent on access to the property.

of course, the ubiquitous part in the story comes as predicted…  “[he was] aggressive during the confrontation.” here’s a guy with a big g-man paw wrapped around his arm… in the hospital cafeteria… which also happens to be at the man’s job site… over $0.89. gotcha. if he really was aggressive, i assure you he would have been arrested. btw, i added the ‘big’ part, it’s just a hunch.

the spin in the wound comes as the official statement from the VA hospital: “[we’re] fortunate to have a highly trained Federal police force to ensure the safety of our patients, visitors and employees […] they are responsible for enforcing the law.”

i’m not making this up. the va hospital has just confirmed a threat i didn’t know existed: the unpaid refill. and apparently it requires highly trained federal police to enforce. and, what once was a business policy is now a federal law.

i don’t mean to go off on a rant here (love that line!) but why the thuggery? is a federal chief of police incapable of discretionary decision making? i want to give the constable my benefit of a doubt, but i can’t bring myself to do it. his behavior is that of a feckless thug, nothing more.

Robert Fulghum, in his book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, writes: “It doesn’t matter what you say you believe – it only matters what you do.” the man said is was unaware he had to pay [it doesn’t matter what you say you believe] yet he offered to pay when made aware [it only matters what you do]. that’s good enough for me whether it be 89 cents or 89 dollars. and it should be good enough for anyone else.

so herein lies the lesson… the Man cares more for the soda at its hospitals tasked with caring for its veterans than it does for the veterans themselves  –or–  when in doubt, ask.

ok, that was really two lessons.

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