All too often, government and corporate “thinking” makes not one iota of common sense. Almost every day, we hear about some incomprehensible rule or regulation and just have to shake our heads in bewilderment.
Recently, several such tales illustrate the point:
In February of this year, a McDonald's employee of eight years service was fired after she bought food for firefighters. Heather Levia, a 23-year-old single mom with twins was working the morning shift at a New York McDonald’s when a group of firefighters came in. The Allegany Fire Department had been in the news recently for putting out house fires in sub-zero temperatures, and Levia, out of gratitude and appreciation, paid for the group's 25 breakfast sandwiches out of her own pocket.
Another group of firefighters came in later that day, ordering $70 worth of food. Levia texted her boss to see if the store could provide it for free. When she was denied, the young mom then called McDonald’s corporate office only to be given the same response.
Maybe going too far after being turned down by the company, Levia then raised enough money among her co-workers to pay for the food.
As a result, she found herself out of a job the next day after reportedly being told she was fired not only for violating corporate policy and insubordination, but for cursing at a superior. Supposedly, she told her boss that it was “freaking” ridiculous, but probably only the two of them know if she really did let loose a string of swear words over the incident.
In August of last year, a North Carolina church group was handing out food to the homeless when a police officer stopped them and threatened them with arrest.
Apparently, they got in trouble for violating some public nuisance law and encouraging vagrancy. What is sad is that hungry, homeless people were already lined up to receive the food but were turned away without getting anything to eat.
“The officer said, quite bluntly, that if we attempted to distribute food, we would be arrested,” the Rev. Hugh Hollowell wrote on the group’s website. “We asked the officer for permission to disperse the biscuits to the over 70 people who had lined up, waiting to eat. They said ‘No.’ I had to face those who were waiting and tell them that I could not feed them, or I would be arrested.”
So, here we have two puzzling tales exemplifying the old saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.”
In some Florida cities it is against various ordinances to hang clothes on a clothesline outside, to park a truck in your driveway, or to have a couch in your carport.
Supposedly, such things are a violation of the public’s right to be protected from visual pollution.
Locally, there’s the account of the “Park Loungers.”
A local family discovered to their doubtless embarrassment that a city code in Fort Walton Beach prevents park visitors from sleeping or lounging too long on seats, benches, blankets, or anything else. The husband and wife with two young children were rousted by a police officer (just doing her job, enforcing a silly law) after a homeless person complained about the family’s violation of the park rules. The dad was play wrestling with the children on the grass when the officer approached them.
The proposed Arizona law protecting a business person from having to serve someone if it violates their religious principles is a tough one. Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the “anti-gay” bill, and she was right to do so. But at the same time, I hate the fact that any American can be forced by law to do business with anyone for any reason. I own a car lot and will happily sell a vehicle to anybody regardless of how different their views or lifestyle may be from mine. But if I decide for some reason NOT to do business with someone, I don’t want to be threatened with an anti-discrimination lawsuit.
And I’m afraid that’s where we’re headed with the current outpouring of corporate and governmental regulations, rules, policies, and laws that make no common sense.
Can a photographer who has a legitimate, morbid phobia of clowns be forced to provide a photo shoot with them in full costume and make-up? Can a landlord refuse to rent to someone with a record for dealing drugs? Can a shop owner refuse service to an abusive, foul-mouthed customer? Remember the signs that once hung on diner walls, the ones that proclaimed “No shoes, no shirt, no service”?
But all of that is probably considered discriminatory according to today’s dumb government laws and corporate policies.
Former Sen. Fred Thompson said it best: “The problem is that all agencies lose sight of common sense as they create regulations.”
Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.