Friday, May 28, 2010

Common Sense Is Not All That Common

      Two recent news stories make me wonder whatever happened to common sense. Both are taken from the Lancaster Pennsylvania Intelligencer Journal/New Era.

      Four years ago a local woman was going through a very rough period in her life. She had been through a divorce, her daughters were all grown and had left home, and she was suffering from a debilitating illness which left her in a wheelchair. Unable to perform her preschool teaching job, she was stuck in depression.
      One day she found a tiny bird which had fallen from its nest. It still had fuzz on its head and had not yet grown feathers. In spite of the fact that experts predicted it would not last more than three days, she nursed it back to health.
      The bird eventually grew into a female house finch. After it learned to fly, it had the run of the house. It didn’t like the darkness, so her “mother” got her a night light. The bird reminded the mother at eight every night to turn on the light, and it awakened her in the morning by perching on her head and pecking at her hair.
      But it was a two way street. Caring for the bird got the mother through her illness and out of her depression. The two have bonded; the experts would say the bird has imprinted on her benefactor. They have almost literally saved each other’s life.
      Two days after the above story appeared in the newspaper, a representative from the Pennsylvania Game Commission showed up with a warrant in his hand and three policemen in tow – no warning, no letter, no advance notice of any kind. As the representative chased the screeching bird throughout the house, the lady begged to be allowed to catch it for them. “No, if they want your help, they’ll ask,” one of the officers told her.
      Under both federal and state law, keeping a wild animal without a license is illegal. But it seems to me she could have been notified by letter, and given a chance to turn the bird over to authorities.
      Almost by definition, district attorneys are not known for being soft-hearted, but even though he has no jurisdiction in the case, the local DA has asked the game commissioner to grant a temporary rehabilitator’s license to allow the bird to remain in the home. The commissioner has said he would consider it, but so far nothing has happened.
      If a rehabilitator decides the bird is able to be returned to the wild, that’s what will be done. If it's not able, I don’t know what will happen.
      I know that we must have rules. But experience tells me that common sense is a useful attribute for any supervisor to have, along with the permission to use it at his or her discretion. This case cries out for such action.
      What do you think?
      At 10:20 on a recent night, a man carrying a $600 computer set off a theft alarm in a Kansas Walmart store. A customer service manager went after him. She told him that if he showed her his receipt, she would remove the sensor on the computer.
      He refused, and kicked her. Then he punched her. Finally he let go of the computer and took off.
      When she went back inside, the assistant store managers checked to see that she was OK. Then they thanked her for preventing the theft.
      The next day, two hours before the end of her shift, an assistant manager told her she was fired!
      A Walmart spokesperson said that though they appreciate her action, it’s against policy for anyone except a manager or someone in asset protection to try to stop a customer from stealing, because it may put the employee or a customer in jeopardy.
      In my opinion, she should have got a reward, or at least an official “Thank You.” Believe me, I know - employees like that are hard to find.
      As I said above, common sense is a useful attribute for any supervisor to have, along with the permission to use it at his or her discretion.
      I guess the secondary moral of the story is, “If you want to steal something at Walmart, do it while the manager is taking a break.” Just kidding.
      Again, what do you think?
      Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries anthropologists have had the opportunity to study many primitive cultures which have turned up in remote areas of the world. In most cases these cultures have followed similar paths to understanding their environment.
      In all cases the earliest and biggest mystery confronting man was that of the death of people close to him: mates, children, clan members, etc. A common acceptance concept was that of a soul which survived the death of the body, either to wander about as an animal or a disembodied spirit, or to be born again in another form.
      Man Takes Control – The Spirit Runs Through It.

      The book and/or a free look inside is available in paperback or on Kindle at Amazon.

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