When I was a pre-teen we lived in a small town in Pennsylvania that was on the banks of this little creek that feeds the Delaware River somehow. The roads leading down to the banks of the creek were steep, but the town was small and lazy and not encumbered by a steady stream of Starbucks-hyped motorists lunging to their cubicles. When the snows came in January, as they always did, the town would block off the road at the top of the very steepest hill and let the kids slalom down the slope at blazing speed, bouncing off each other like pinballs in a manic arcade game.
That was before there were lawyers.
College Educations - I remember my college years. There was the occasional Animal House moment of bliss and abandon, but mostly what I remember is working. A lot. Working long and hard and tediously in tool-like monotony. It's worse now. Child-grooming starts with preschool and doesn't end until post-doc (or later, depending on the career choice). Young people that make the wrong choice are left with years of grueling instruction, dim job prospects, years of falling well shy of their life's ambition, and a lifetime of frustration and misery. The ones that make the right choice do incrementally better. The mere prospect of such lifelong servitude should be enough to prompt endless lawsuits.
Pain and Suffering
Exercise - Today's news is filled with admonitions about the raging obesity "epidemic". First of all, it ain't an epidemic. It's a natural outcome of the average American consumer's desire for crappy food and a sedentary lifestyle. Epidemics are diseases that, hopefully, can be treated. Obesity is a condition whose elimination requires radical intervention, surgical or otherwise. But it doesn't have to be eliminated - be obese and happy, I don't care. But I digress. My point is that plenty of people are driven to an unnatural life choice that calls for heavy doses of treadmill pacing. When taken too far, this sort of thing can lead to predictable and tragic consequences, and attract mobs of lawyers with retainer in hand.
Kids Down On Their Luck in Montville
Lawsuit In The Making
Of course now I've come to appreciate lawyers in ways that I could only dimly imagine in my adolescence. Still, they do seem to go a little over the top sometimes, don't they. Take the town of Montville, NJ, a distant suburb of New York not much different then the tiny burb I grew up in. It snows there a fair amount. There are kids roaming around with time on their hands. They have hills that attract children like moths to a porch light. But now there are lawyers aplenty with visions of liability suits dancing in their heads.
The Star Ledger reports that the Montville town council has banned sledding on the steepest, coolest slope in the town. This announcement very nearly caused the children of the town to revolt and demand that schools be reopened so they would have something to do. Psychotic behavior like this should bear witness to the profound lack of judgment displayed by the council, and certainly calls for a closer look. Why would the town's elders take a step outlawing one of winter's few pleasures and flooding child psychiatry phone banks?
“It’s unfortunate, but our insurance carrier is concerned about the liability,” Montville Councilwoman Deborah Nielson said.
Oh dear. But surely the mere possibility of a lawsuit wouldn't prompt the council to go nuclear. And an insurance company's "concern" shouldn't result in steps that shift costs to the health care sector. After all, don't most insurers have liability divisions and health care divisions? Don't they want to minimize claims on both sides of that house? Does it really make sense to reduce potential liability claims only to see real health claims coming through child psychiatrists skyrocket? And that hill in Montville is nothing compared with Schooley's Mountain, also in New Jersey, which kicks ass and is open for business.
So let's look a little deeper.
According to the Star Ledger "The family of a young girl sued Montville about two years ago after she collided with a frozen hay bale, which had been placed there as a boundary marker, and injured her leg, said attorney John Dorsey. He represents Montville’s insurance carrier, the Morris County Joint Insurance Fund."
OK, it's winter. Stuff freezes. Don't sled into it. Sledding is the one athletic activity that takes absolutely no skill. None. It just takes a brain and a willingness to accept the possibility of grievous injury. A squirrel could sled if it could hold onto the steering bar. Squirrels would be even better at it than humans. They can't file lawsuits.
So what sorts of activities are we to steer clear of as attorneys swarm over us? Well, the answer is none. But I'll bet there are a few out there that would surprise you:
Justin Bieber - So far, Justin Bieber is every parents' ideal teen idol - well mannered, cute, friendly, and free of unsightly tattoos. Unfortunately, this will change in due course as Justin embarks on his programmed Disneyfied odyssey. He's Hannah Montana now, but his Miley Cyrus will start peeking out in about a year. But, again, I digress. Suffice it to say the kid's headed for a tragic fall, and the children who have pinned their hopes on him are destined to suffer equal doses of pathos and despair. Attorneys should be combing the record books now for girls born between 1996 and 1998 - the prime Bieber fan base. Sign them up now, because they will have claims aplenty in 2013.