When the story came out that a convicted felon in California died because hed failed to take care of himself after receiving a heart transplant while in prison - even as 5,000 Californians alone await heart donations - I knew that common sense had officially been declared dead, too.
Of course, that message should have hit me long ago. If it hadnt, it surely came recently when I read about all the hospitals that are ending the practice of distributing birth announcements to newspapers because of fears of child abductions.
Have we lost our collective minds? Why are we so afraid?
The story about the birth announcements was bewildering - especially as it reveals a hysterically distorted view of how the process works. Here were usually intelligent people from the Medical College of Georgia, responding to another hospitals study of maternity ward security issues, and agreeing that theyd no longer send out birth announcements.
The problem is that birth announcements dont run until weeks - sometimes months - after the child has already left the hospital. Its not as if there are people reading the paper, seeing a kids name, and running down to the maternity ward to nab that particular baby. Or that someone intelligent enough to read the paper would say, Hey, according to this, theres babies at the hospital! Lets go grab one!
But when common sense dies, theres no way to explain it. Im still amazed over all the work local kids - the 4-Hers, particularly - have put into their efforts to collect pop-top tabs for the Ronald McDonald House charity. Students at Bel Air Elementary, for example, saved up gallon jugs full of the tabs, which will be recycled for their aluminum content at roughly 45 cents per pound.
Hooray for the kind kids, but arent we missing something here? Like, maybe, the rest of the can? Im glad to see these kids dedicated and working so hard for a goal, but please, I just hope they arent taking off the tops - which has much less recyclable aluminum than the rest of the can - and tossing the remainder in the garbage.
A Ronald McDonald House spokesman a while back explained to me that they collect the tabs because the cans are too messy. But they also started taking the tabs because they simply got tired of turning away people whod filled milk jugs after falling for the urban legend about how some kid could get a kidney if enough of them were turned in.
Hey, maybe we ought to start a rumor that you can get a heart-transplant for a prison inmate if you collect pull-tabs.
As if all this nuttiness werent enough, Jim Whitehead will soon retire as a Columbia County commissioner. If there is any public servant with more common sense, I havent met him or her yet. We sure will miss him.
Columbia Countys "hottest gift
Speaking of Whitehead, you may want to keep his recent adventure in mind if you are still looking for a last-minute Christmas gift for that special someone.
If you still have an empty spot under your tree, Malcolm Washington has a deal for you.
Washington is a sales associate on the used car lot at Augusta Lincoln-Mercury in Martinez. He can set you up in a barely-used, bright red 2002 Ford Mustang GT convertible, with an asking price of just $26,990.
Whats so special about this car? Its the one recently stolen by an ex-Columbia County Recreation Depart-ment employee who drove the borrowed convertible three weeks ago in the Merchants Association Christmas Parade.
In his final County Commission meeting Tuesday, County Commission Chairman Jim Whitehead - who was a passenger in the car during the parade, and who got teased unmercifully about it when the convertible went missing - showed off a tongue-in-cheek going-away gift he received: A photo of him riding in the Mustang. Not only is Whitehead the essence of common sense - he also is a good sport.
After the car was found in Augusta - thanks to a tip that yours truly passed on to the Columbia County Sheriffs office - taxpayers had to fork over $794.79 to return the convertible to showroom condition.
Just in time for Christmas!
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com, or call 863-6165, extension 106.)
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