Sunday, August 30, 2009

Prioritize Priorities Please

In order to get away from reality we pass time in a pastime we find rewarding and mind-numbing. Setting our priorities in proper order is important for a happy and healthy life.

I did just that when I recently went to a preseason football game at Giant Stadium in the Meadowlands of New Jersey looking for an enjoyable and relaxing evening away from stress.

Located in a semi-deserted area and supposed final resting place of Jimmy Hoffa this remote stadium is aging but still in great shape. Lacking only a dome to make it a world class arena fit for hosting a Super Bowl it welcomes the Giant faithful with open arms as well as open skies. That's because it is one of the few cold climate stadiums without a dome.

It was the open skies part of our outing that made it necessary for my daughter and I to carry umbrellas to the game since the forecast was for rain, heavy at times due to a passing tropical storm. (As usual the weathermen were wrong and they keep their jobs but that's another story.)

Arriving at the stadium under a beautifully clear sky with, among other things a camera, binoculars, umbrellas, some sandwiches and bottled water held in an open cloth tote bag we walked up to the security gates. This check-in area is manned (and 'womaned') by guards who screen you before you even hand in your ticket and enter the grounds of the stadium. Everyone is frisked! Contraband is either confiscated or sent back with you to store in your car. I came by train and therefore did not have that option.

Now I understand the importance of security and applaud efforts to keep us safe but some of the rules have clearly gone off the deep end.

NO UMBRELLAS (We had two)

NO TOTE BAGS (We had a big ominous cloth one)

NO WATER BOTTLES - Okay water bottles are allowed but NO CAPS!
That's right! You can bring water bottles in but they confiscate the caps! This is presumably so that you cannot fill up the bottles, cap them and use them as projectiles to throw onto the field!
Well they caught me on that one because I definitely paid $25 and traveled 2 hours on public transportation to the swamps of New Jersey with the single thought of filling up an 8 ounce plastic water bottle; capping it and throwing it from the upper level stadium seating in the hopes of hitting a player WHO IS WEARING PADS THAT COULD ALMOST STOP A BULLET!

Oh, and by the way I was informed of the no bottle caps on bottles rule so I carried 5 extra caps in my pocket and replaced the confiscated contraband once inside.
Anyone know the statute of limitations on bottle cap smuggling?

I lose umbrellas far too often and I was not going to lose these two beauties just because some silly Napoleanic/Cheney ruling said so. I put the smaller one in my front pocket and stored or rather shoved the other one down the back of my jeans. Walking became an adventure.

The cloth tote bag was then emptied, folded, rolled up and placed in the pocket of the jacket that I was now wearing that used to be in the tote.
I put the camera around my neck and found that the binocular case fit nicely onto my belt.
My pants were now being pulled downward by the extra items hidden therein.
The sandwiches were in a separate bag and thankfully we were not forced to eat them at the gate as they were cleared for entry into the oh-so secure stadium.

I realize that I committed several infractions but I assure you that no players were harmed during the duration of my stay. At least not by me.

As a juxtaposition to the Fort Knox-Pentagon style security at soon to be demolished Giant Stadium (A new one opens next year next door) I know someone who works as a Judge for the New York City Parking Violations Bureau with a completely different story.

If you get a parking ticket in NY and wish to fight it you may do so in many ways but none more satisfying than a face to face hearing with a judge. Every day disgruntled ticketed drivers pile into the mini-courtrooms where a single judge presides. This judge, an ALJ or Administrative Law Judge hears complaints and rules on the veracity and legality of the ticket in question. In other words this person tells you whether or not you have to pay the fine.

People come in angry and ready for a fight. They come in with their tickets and any evidence they choose to bring to defend their argument. They may also come in with capped water bottles, umbrellas, tote bags and unfortunately even guns because, you see there are no guards or metal detectors in place to protect these impartial judges!

And in order to protect a loose interpretation of the Constitution and the oft misused and misunderstood second amendment therein we allow crazies to carry weapons under the guise of patriotism. Even doing so to political debates where there are admittedly strong opinions on both sides of every issue.

In other words we as a society have decided that a fun venue such as a stadium should be locked down but a court of law or a Presidential Town Hall meeting is open game.

I am not advocating for free-wheeling gun-toting people who wish to do harm to others to be allowed to enter stadiums with weapons but shouldn't we prioritize things just a bit?


Anonymous said...

This is because, substance is not important, what is important is how things look. The aura of security for an 80,000 modern seat ballpark will get more publicity than a small delapidated office where people are trying to do their jobs

mug guy said...

Even when that small number of people trying to do their jobs happens to include the President of the Untied States?
Obviously a large arena makes for a great headline should a tragedy strike but look at the media frenzy (And I am not saying whether it is deserved or not) over the death of Michael Jackson or the more tragic death of Ted Kennedy.
Guns are dangerous and there are far too many in the hands of far too crazy a bunch of deranged individuals but we are stretching things when cloth tote bags are considered verboten!