Thursday, October 01, 2009

"Fried Fridays: The Four 'R's' ..."

Reading, (w)Riting, (a)Rithmatic...and Ridiculous.

Yet another story, here, of creatively dealing with the twists and turns of the economy. As the old saying goes, Necessity is the mother of Invention. To survive is to adapt, and what better way to adapt than to pool resources.

Having started a “Fried Fridays” column with those words, you are correctly saying in a low voice, “okay, what happened now…” Your next thought would be ‘what idiot…’ or ‘what government agency….’ or, uh,…oh, wait, same thing, different words…


(cue music and sing along…)

“And like a good neighbor, State Farm is the-e-e-e-e-re”

Call Lisa Snyder ‘State Farm’. With the economy all amuck, jobs shifting and work hours shifting and daily coordinated mayhem shifting, Lisa was like a godsend when it came to help getting neighbors’ kidlets on the school bus in the morning.

Three neighboring moms took her up on her offer to have their kids come and wait at her home for about an hour before the bus arrived, so that those parents could go to work. Everybody got along. Everything was hunky dory, peachy keen, copasetic.

As our mornings stay darker longer (at least until daylight saving ends), picture your own neighborhood with kids having to stand out in the dark and increasing cold waiting the big yellow banana crate. Think how you would feel if a neighbor like Lisa offered for your kid(s) to come and stay safe and warm, right in front of the actual bus stop, while you scurry to get to your job that probably pays poorly with mediocre benefits, if any, just to stay afloat. We’re not talking a battalion, just the kids from 3 families that all get along swimmingly.

Now feel the lump in your throat when, in the mail, you open a note from the Michigan Department of Human Services and read the stern warning that if YOU continue to keep the kids before school that you will be in violation of state law, accusing you of operating as an unlicensed day care center.


Of course, you’re shaking in your boots, a good bit confused (Lisa’s words were ‘freaked out/blown away), and increasingly getting really steamed over the lunacy of it all. And rightly so.

Snyder called her husband and the three families involved, and no one had any idea where this was coming from, especially since they are all such good friends. Just so happened another neighbor complained to the state agency; in response, the government agency stated it was following official procedure. Too damned bad official procedure doesn’t seem to include talking to the alleged ‘offender’ first to establish facts, but I digress…

The unlicensed daycare law currently on the Michigan books is a poorly written one, and with the immediate (and warranted) outcry, Governor Jennifer Granholm immediately stepped in and asked the agency director Ismael Ahmed to intervene and instigate new legislation to change the current statute, admitting to the total lack of common sense in this particular situation.

I’ll give the state of Michigan a pat on the back for their new agency opinion that “good neighbors should be allowed to help each other ensure their children are safe. Being a good neighbor means helping out neighbors who are in need. This could be as simple as providing a cup of sugar, monitoring their house while they're on vacation or making sure their children are safe while they wait for the school bus.”

I’ll assume the new verbage is not yet in place, but the proverbial ball is rolling to correct the asinine interpretation that was made. Case closed, kinda sorta.

HOWEVER……(pull out soapbox)

No other articles on this could I find addressed the neighbor who filed the complaint. What happened to spur the legal effort? Did the kids make too much noise? Did they blare music or somehow wake up other neighbors? Was this possibly a revenge of sorts from some unrelated issue? From my perspective, I immediately latched onto what I see as a big problem for lots of people in lots of neighborhoods: Neighbors that are complete, total asses and jerks.

True, I don't know how this whole situation got so blown up, but the neighbor has a significant hand in it, and it doesn't seem that anyone is holding them responsible for their part, even if just to complete the 'knowledge' circle. There is a lot of cheap journalism that will turn a buck on only the most moldable story without reporting a FULL picture of what was going on. Go for the ol' info-byte to nab a reader and move on. That in itself is a sad statement on where many are choosing to let media efforts go.

Contrary to the popular saying, squeaky wheels do not automatically deserve the grease. Oops, gosh, there I go digressing again!

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