“A Week of Tears”
1. This past Saturday afternoon, two beloved police officers were fatally shot responding to a potential domestic situation in Westerville, Ohio (a town we visit often). Their funerals were today (Friday):
2. On Valentine’s Day, seventeen students in Parkland, Florida, were gunned down by a student who had been expelled from the school:
The police officers were killed in a shoot-out with a criminal with a long record. The students were killed by a student with a history of mental illness. While ALL the deaths make me feel bad, sad, angry, and helpless, what makes my anger burn white-hot is that the student used an AR-15 semi-automatic assault weapon that no civilian needs–a weapon that has been used in most of the school shootings–most of the mass-death shootings–in the U.S. in the last couple of years.
Republican members of Congress, whose campaigns have been heavily funded by the National Rifle Association, refuse to allow any bans on these military-style weapons. As long as this national insanity continues, so will multiple-death incidents facilitated by this weapon.
Other countries are astounded that we allow this madness. I am embarrassed to be a citizen of a country that puts the unrestrained rights of a few gun owners over the safety of the rest of its citizens. This weapon has no other use than to ensure as many deaths as possible in the shortest amount of time.
I repeat: NO CIVILIAN NEEDS A SEMI-AUTOMATIC ASSAULT WEAPON! If you agree, raise your voice.
Today I had to do battle with the protective plastic wrap around the cap of a bottle of mouthwash. I started tearing off the plastic, ended up getting only part of it, and had to use a knife to cut away the rest to free the cap.
Once again, I thought of the person to thank (that is, blame) for similar battles that play out a billion times a day all over the planet with shrink-wrapped caps, foil-sealed openings, and protective closures of all kinds—the person to thank for all the “Do not use if such and such has been tampered with” warnings.
I am talking about the Tylenol Killings. Before these sensational 1982 Chicago deaths appeared in the news, nothing had protective seals, absolutely nothing. Almost overnight, everything did. Six people who had unknowingly taken Tylenol Extra-Strength tablets laced with cyanide died. Three of the deaths occurred in one household when, after one member of the family died, the other two took Tylenol from the same bottle to relieve their grief and pain.
This set off a nation-wide panic, and Tylenol products had to be removed from store shelves everywhere. This video news account from that time shows the extent of the panic:
Eventually, we all learned that only a couple of bottles of Tylenol in just one pharmacy had been tampered with, but at first, no one knew whether it was an isolated incident or if the tablets had been tampered with at the factory.
So, it’s because of this one evil act over 25 years ago that all products had to be made tamper-proof. The victims were totally random; the crime has never been solved. The perpetrator could be alive or dead. He or she might be/might have been the only person on earth who is/was pleased to find all the protective barriers that had to be put in place soon after the act. I really hope that he/she is/was as annoyed with them as the rest of us. I REALLY hope that one day the person is identified, so his/her name can live in infamy.
Just as the 1982 crime has never been resolved, I don’t know how to wrap up this post. Recently we mentioned to our grown children that we remembered the time when nothing had protective seals. They had trouble believing that this was ever the case, so we told them about the Tylenol Killings. If you are young enough not to have known about this crime and its worldwide impact, now you know.
[Health Update: The sciatica pain that sidelined me from blogging for a week is just about gone, but I’m still dealing with pain and difficulty walking due to two bulging disks. I am scheduled to have an MRI of my spine on Wednesday.]
In December, I answered a knock at the door to find a florist’s deliveryman holding a beautiful gift poinsettia from a friend of ours. He asked me where I found the tall, lighted plastic angel next to our stoop—an annual part of our outdoor Christmas display. I told him that I had had that angel for probably 25 years.
He proceeded to tell me that he had searched everywhere, with no luck, for such an old-fashioned angel to match the style of figures in his large outdoor nativity display. Then I did one of the most spontaneous things I have ever done. I reached down, unplugged the angel, and said, “Here, take it.” He was speechless. Well, not entirely; he kept saying, “Are you sure?” I told him that I was, indeed, sure, and I asked him if he would tell me his address in town so that my wife and I could drive by and see the angel in its new setting. He carried the angel to his vehicle in something closely resembling a state of shock. What was going through my mind was how I was going to break the news to my wife that I had just given away the angel, in the spur of the moment, to a total stranger.
As holiday seasons go, the time got away from us, and we never got to visit his nativity display. I was very disappointed but figured that we’d just have to wait until next year.
Today (Friday) I answered a knock at the door to find the same deliveryman holding a HUGE bouquet for me. No, the flowers weren’t from HIM; they were from our daughter and son-in-law in Chicago to celebrate the opening day of my month-long art exhibit at the city library. But as soon as I opened the door, he said, “I have something to show you.” He had pulled up on his phone a picture of his nativity scene so that I could see the angel in its new setting. I told him how grateful I was that he shared the picture, because we thought we had lost the opportunity to see his display this year. He thanked me again for my random act of angel giving. All of my self-doubt about whether or not I had possibly lost my mind in giving the angel away evaporated. My wife, I fear, is still half expecting me to misplace my car keys in the refrigerator.
So today was one of the best days of my life: I had my debut as an artist, I saw how happy I had made another human being by giving away an angel, and I got the biggest bouquet anyone has ever given me. Below my copyright notice, you can see my Facebook post about the flowers.
Copyright © 2018 by John Arthur Robinson
I am aware that my posts have become more political lately, and I have decided that my blog should be a refuge from the world’s chaos, not a commentary on it. My previous blog was entirely based on humor, was family friendly, and was meant to be uplifting.
So I am changing directions in this blog to present from now on (1) inspirational quotes by others, (2) my best photographs, and (3) thoughtful commentary, poems, observations, etc., on the lighter side.