I hate to have to do it, but it has become apparent that I am going to have to take an issue before the Court.
I was wrestling with the decision this morning – to sue or not to sue – when a commercial interrupted the morning news. Just the fact that I was watching the news at all is portentous. I usually get all the news I need on the weather report, as the Paul Simon song says. Anyway, in the midst of this internal battle, a commercial came on. Apparently, if you watch an advertisement for some new drug that touts its efficacy in lessening a health issue and decide to try that pharmaceutical wonder — even after listening to two seconds of efficacy proclamation and two minutes of possible and/or likely side effects — and if you further actually experience one of those side effects, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation. It was like a sign.
So, I am going to have to sue my granddaughter. Not for something so innocuous as listed side effects. No, this is far more insidious. We are talking reckless endangerment. Contributing to the health delinquency of an elder. Cruel and unusual temptation. Need I go on?
While, clearly, the child is at fault, I wouldn’t be so unfair as to place an unmanageable burden on her or her family. I will allow her to make restitution in weekly payments. The kid gets an allowance after all. And she has no bills. She can afford to fork out the coins to pay for my stairclimber/treadmill to undo the damage she enabled.
In a way, I am doing her a favor. She will learn to put her money to use to help someone instead of egocentrically throwing it away at garage sales for toys or books that will just have to be sorted through and disposed of at some point. Plus, she won’t have decisions to make. She will know exactly how her money will be used.
And it isn’t like it will last forever. I mean I am not seeking punitive damages for my pain and suffering. I figure by the time she is old enough to go out and get a job, she will have paid off her debt to society at large and to me in particular. And she will have a slimmer, trimmer grandmother and will know that, even though she contributed to the problem, she was also instrumental in the solution.
The basic premise is this: she sold Girl Scout cookies. I bought them, then I ate them. She had to know when she offered them to me that this was the likely outcome.
It’s like that poor woman who sued because she spilled hot coffee on herself. The purveyors of the coffee knew it was hot. They advertised it that way. Hot, fresh coffee. They should have figured that one day someone was going to spill the hot beverage. So they should have served the hot coffee kind of cold to prevent harm. Of course, it would have tasted nasty and they wouldn’t have sold much and they might have lost a bunch of money and gone out of business, eliminating countless jobs across the nation, but they wouldn’t have caused bodily harm.
Or what about that prisoner who sued because his peanut butter was creamy, not crunchy. The warden should have figured that serving only creamy peanut butter would someday offend somebody. They wouldn’t make crunchy, after all, if some people didn’t prefer it. So the thing to have done, I guess, was not to have served peanut butter at all. Or hot coffee.
That opens up the question of what do you serve in a prison? If it’s oatmeal, might there not be some grits lovers who take exception? Would you not trample all over the rights of a prisoner who likes bean soup if you serve up chicken noodle? It could get a little dicey planning the menu, but hey, if you open up a prison, you have to know going in that you might be playing host to some discriminating incarcerates who don’t take kindly to being served the wrong peanut butter.
So, the point is, the girl let herself in for this law suit when she not only began selling Girl Scout cookies, she willingly, knowingly – with malice aforethought? –offered them to me. One look at me should have told her it was risky business. Just a little bit of introspection should have warned her that harm could be done here. Obviously, I have no discipline or I would still be pencil thin with muscles instead of fat lumps. And equally obviously, Girl Scout cookies are really, really good. She had already sold hundreds of boxes before she paraded them in front of me.
So let’s review the facts. She is almost eight years old and smart – clearly she has reached the age of accountability; she is well aware that Girl Scout cookies are yummy; she made the cookies available to me, when it was readily apparent that I 1) should not be eating yummy sugary calorie laden things, and 2) I have no more restraint than a bull elk in mating season. The thighs alone should have given her pause.