Thursday, February 10, 2005

For a Feel Good Story Skip the Local News

I read the local news every day, and ordinarily it's a mishmosh of ordinary things. A car crash here, a school board debate there, a fundraiser over yonder, maybe a dog up on charges of stalking. Well this week we had a local news page that was unabated misery. Story after story. You couldn't get relief anywhere. I was tempted to turn to the business section and see how the Citrus Canker was doing. Okay here is what we were looking at on this dismal day: "Man Helps Woman Remove Son From Sinking Van." Now true, the kid lived. So in a way this was a happy story. But I was worried about parents who would put a 2-year-old into a van, then back it up to a lake for any kind of towing operation and leave him strapped in there by himself. But the good news of the day is that an alert bystander saved the kid before the van sank. "Driver Hits, Kills Elderly Woman." Now sometimes the elderly escape from various nursing and retirement places, or from their own homes and get into traffic scuffles on foot, which they usually lose. In this case, though, it sounds as if the 80-year-old had both presence of mind AND right of way. She was taken out by an 80-year-old man, probably driving a Cadillac the size of your living room. "Pair Accused of Killing Birds." First, the pair in question were two college students. How romantic. Let's go out on a date and kill birds! (Wasn't this one of the 17 Warning Signs of a Bad Boyfriend? Perhaps not. It was probably one of the 5,000 Signs of a Ghastly Human Being.) And the bird in question was no unsympathetic bird such as a pigeon, vulture or crow. No. They killed a SWAN. The actual symbol of the city of Lakeland. It would be like Arnold Schwarzenegger tearing the head off a bald eagle and eating at rock concert! Who kills swans, anyway? Don't they fall in the vampire/werewolf/Mr. Hyde/ class of human beings? They showed the ugly mugs of these sorry-looking college students, too. (I mean sorry-looking in the scum of humanity sense, not in the "sorry we did it" sense.) Sigh. "Trapped Man Dies After ATV Overturns." Well this dude, NOT a teenager, I might add (at age 54 you are only mentally a teenager, at most), died after his All Terrain Vehicle overturned at 12:30 a.m. Was this the best choice of transportation after midnight? Probably not, as he wasn't found until morning. These types of stories more commonly involve the ATV (or riding mower) trapping the rider upside down in a drainage ditch or small pond. "Utility to Raise Its Fuel Charge." Well, not horrifying. Just numbingly familiar. "Man Killed in Car Accident." No spectacular awful details, like the one from the other day that occurred on a day of dense fog. A 16-year-old (apparently parentless, or one whose Significant Olders failed to say, "Don't try to pass traffic in the fog, son.") pulls out to pass slower traffic. In the oncoming lane is a woman with a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old strapped in their car seats. She tries to swerve to avoid Hasty Teen, and he strikes the car, killing the 2-year-old girl, and sending the mother, brother and himself to the hospital. Who lets 16-year-olds drive in dense fog? Or at least who does it without warning them that all the rules of the road change when you have no visibility, including the speed limit? E. Freaking. Gads. Okay, let us go on to our final story of the day: "Veterinarian Accused of Abusing Her Brother." What. What? A veterinarian? Apparently the headline writer found it as appalling as I did. It did not say, "Tax Accountant Accused of Abusing Her Brother." Nor did it say, "Customer Service Manager Accused of Abusing Her Brother." No. It said VETERINARIAN. You know, the people who are supposed to cure our sick puppies, kitties and hamsters. The ones who love dogs, kids and old people. The ones who go through the equivalent of medical school for the privilege of having patients with extremely bad breath. A Vet! Abusing someone! Her own brother! Who was disabled and happened to live with her. Whoever heard of such a thing? Wasn't Robin Williams playing a veterinarian in at least half his movies? The sappy half, anyway? Magpies on the Hudson. Good Morning, Veterinarians. Perch Adams. Mrs. Doberman. How could this woman besmirch the good name of veterinarians everywhere? What kind of person is nice to ferrets and mean to her own brother? It just makes no sense. But it was par for the course on this utterly depressing news day. So all I can say it that it's possible for an entire town or city to just be having "one of those days" when nothing goes right. Lakeland got up on the wrong side of the bed and rolled right into the Drainage Ditch of Depression. I believe even during the period of three major hurricanes in two months we did not have such an oddball day of badness in the local news. So cheer up. Tomorrow HAS to be a better day. Unless you're the veterinarian's brother.

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