Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Deck the Halls

    I read a lot of newspapers - or at least their online equivalents - and one theme that I constantly notice is this unfound overreaction to just about everything.  For instance, someone nails a sign to a post that says "road closed" even though the road is clearly open, and the authorities jump down on them with two feet.  Pretty soon the prankster is in court and then jail or a stiff fine.  That kind of stuff.  Or like out in Portland where those kids got in hot water for selling lemonade from some government types before sanity prevailed.  Well up in Boston there is a little bit of a situation that is going on that had the potential to become the same thing, but ended up the way it should have.
    I am going to lay this out for you in a little bit of an awkward way today, Company, because I think it merits it.  Usually I would give you the story and then some thoughts, but I want to sort of reveal my thoughts to you as they came to me as I read this article which originated in the Boston Globe.  I first read the headline "Christmas message at Boston subway stop makes riders smile, but transit bosses not amused" and I groaned out loud.  Immediately upon seeing that I went to this thought: I bet someone saw a Christmas message on the subway and got all bent out of shape because there is a separation of church and state and that violates it and someone will be offended because they don't celebrate Christmas and choose to celebrate some other holiday and how could the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority allow such a thing and only choose to promote one religion over another and I need to raise a big stink about this RIGHT NOW!
     So that is why I was groaning, because from reading that headline it seemed to me that this situation was ripe for overreaction.  Either some rider on the subway would flip out or the higher ups at the Transportation Authority would overreact because someone might take offense, even if most of the riders seemed to like it.  In fact, a paragraph or two in said that officials with the Transportation Authority had initially said that the dispatcher who programmed an electronic message board to display the lyrics of the song "Deck the Halls" could be severely punished.  And he could have been.  And, unfortunately in a lot of instances he would have been because people tend to get a little crazy when things like this happen.
      But fortunately this was not like a lot of instances.  On December 27, Massachusetts State Transportation Secretary Richard Davey told the Globe that any punishment would be light, possible even as light as a reminder that signs must only be used for their intended purpose.  He went on to say that the purpetrator is good employee and has worked for the Transit Authority for a long time, and that he meant well.  Usually those sorts of things don't really matter in an issue like this, but they should.  And in this case it seems they did.
     The guy who did this will get a slap on the wrist, as well he should, because it was essentially a victimless prank.  Unless of course the victim is the fact that the No. 7 train is running 4 mins late.  It is really refreshing to me to see a situation where the authorities have responded with the appropriate amount of reaction for the situation.  It really is a magical season, isn't it?

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