Folks in California have long been worried about missiles from North Korea, earthquakes, and wildfires but they’ve completely missed the real threat to their life, liberty, and well-being.
La Jolla’s Meanley & Son Hardware is an old-fashioned outfit. Bob Meanley runs the family hardware store and for 25 years it’s been their tradition to allow customers to help themselves to some free popcorn from their machine. Meanley says that they averaged giving away about 30 to 40 bags a day over the past 25 years. Thanks to the county’s Department of Environmental Health, they’re now giving away zero bags and that butter-stained, popping machine of mass destruction has been moved into a closet.
Of course, Meanley could have elected to keep the popcorn tradition alive. All he would have had to do is install a three-basin sink to clean the popcorn machine, submit to regular restaurant-style health inspections, add proper ventilation, hand over his first-born child, submit to regular blood tests, and commit to pray three times daily while kneeling in the direction of the Department of Environmental Health’s office building. Perhaps I’m exaggerating. Who knows? It’s getting harder to tell.
Have you ever eaten popcorn from a machine like the one at Meanley’s hardware store? Of course you have. I have too. And when we do, the last thing on our minds is whether or not the machine has been properly cleaned. We know it’s dirty. Especially if it’s in the same building where they sell chainsaws and fertilizer. But we assume the risk and eat the popcorn anyway. Safety standards aren’t usually a primary concern among consumers of free popcorn.
The county is defending its actions by reminding us that food-born illnesses are a major crisis. It’s hard to disagree with them. Just yesterday I was walking out to my mailbox when I had to step over 14 people who were doubled over in pain. I stopped to ask one what the problem was. He only had the strength to answer in one to three word sentences, sort of like in cartoons when the superhero is in real bad trouble.
I asked, “What seems to be the problem, sir?”
He replied, “Can’t breathe. Liver rotting. Dirty popcorn machine.”
If that man was fortunate enough to live in San Diego County he might still be with us today.
This all started because someone phoned in an anonymous tip to the authorities about the popcorn machine at Bob Meanley’s hardware store. I’m guessing it was that same woman who called the police on a group of people for committing the crime of grilling out while black. It has to be the same woman. Who else could possibly do such a terrible thing? Please tell me that there isn't more than one person on the planet that does these sorts of things.
911 Operator: “911. What is your emergency?”
Anonymous Tipster Who Is Most Likely The Same Woman Who Called The Police On The Black People For Using A Charcoal Grill:“Yes, I’d like to report a public health hazard.”
911 Operator: Did you find some more grilling violations?
Anonymous Tipster Who Is Most Likely The Same Woman Who Called The Police On The Black People For Using A Charcoal Grill:No. Not yet. But I have a few leads. Wait! How'd you know it was me?
911 Operator: You're pretty much the only person on the planet who likes to do this sort of thing. So is this about the chocolate fountain at the buffet? Did that guy in his pajamas dip his mashed potatoes in there again?”
Anonymous Tipster Who Is Most Likely The Same Woman Who Called The Police On The Black People For Using A Charcoal Grill:“No. No. This is different. This one’s about the hardware store. They’re passing out free popcorn without wearing hazardous material suits. There are kids everywhere and they’re all smiling while their dads buy hammers. I feel triggered. Tears are starting to form in my eyes.”
911 Operator: “Okay, ma’am. We’re on our way!”
And ever since that phone conversation ended, the streets of San Diego County have been a lot safer. Citizens can now comfortably go about their business without the threat of being maimed or murdered by a popcorn machine. Just imagine what kind of horror these poor residents would be living in were it not for the heroic actions of San Diego County’s Department of Environmental Health and one anonymous tipster who is most likely the same woman who called the police on black people for using a charcoal grill.
The great founding father Patrick Henry said it best. "Give me liberty. Except for in matters pertaining to popcorn and charcoal grills. In those cases, give me regulations!"