Global warming ... health-care costs ... the fiscal cliff ... now this.
Balloons in the library.
If you don’t think that’s a problem, you haven’t seen the sign at the main branch of the Akron-Summit County Public Library that reads, “Please do not bring helium balloons into the library.”
The sign includes a portrait of a blue balloon with the red international symbol for “no” slashed across it.
Now, I don’t know about you, but that regulation won’t have a tremendous impact on my enjoyment of the library either way. But it does seem curious.
No talking on cellphones? Obvious. No machine guns? Works for me. No balloons?
“It’s not that we don’t want people to be in a celebratory mood,” says library spokeswoman Carla Davis. “[But] we have photo sensors by the auditorium that would set off the fire alarms if the helium balloons were to ascend to the ceiling.”
A ringing fire alarm would require evacuation of the building and send firetrucks barreling into downtown.
And, given the library’s 30-foot-high ceilings, collaring a stray balloon before it became an issue would take some doing.
Fortunately, library officials didn’t have to find this out the hard way, Davis says. They were using foresight.
Stray balloons aren’t the only issue in the library’s airspace.
One day a bird decided to patronize the place, and it had to be caught before closing time. If the nighttime security system had been set with the bird still inside, the featherbrain would have triggered a motion detector and riled up the gendarmes.
Davis notes that an outside company was contacted to extricate the bird “in a humane manner.”
Apparently, surface-to-air missiles would have compounded the problem.
Big Rotten Apple
I try to avoid stereotypes, but some of them come about for good reason.
You know the one about New Yorkers considering everything between Manhattan and L.A. to be one big hinterland of hicks?
They don’t even fight that reputation anymore. A cartoon in a recent issue of the New Yorker showed two people strolling down a sidewalk in Manhattan. A stern-looking man, looking straight ahead, says to the stern-looking woman next to him: “I’ve been to cities other than New York. They’re cute.”
With that attitude in mind, get a load of the phone call I received the other day.
A woman from New York left an excited voice mail saying she works for a branch of an organization called Team Lifeguard that investigates “homicidal drownings,” and she wanted to talk to me about a case she is working on.
Working on rather slowly, I’d say. She noted in her message that she got the case file in September 2011 but didn’t get around to reading it until October 2012. And now, she said breathlessly, she “can’t put it down.”
She was calling about an event that was big news in our area: the Brenna Jo Thomas drowning.
I couldn’t recall anyone by that name involved in a controversial drowning. Or, for that matter, a conventional drowning.
But my memory isn’t what it once was, so before I returned her call, I scoured the Beacon Journal’s computer library for stories about Brenna Jo Thomas. Nothing. I looked for a Brenda Jo Thomas. Zip. Even tried Brena Jo Thomas and still came up empty.
I called back and confessed my ignorance.
She was surprised, because the victim had drowned in “Enon, Ohio.”
It soon became clear that this woman in New York, Nancy Bono, thought Enon was either the same place as Akron or right next door.
Why did she think that? I have no idea, other than the names sound sort of similar.
When I told her I had never set foot in Enon nor written one word about the place, she was taken aback and rifled through her documents.
Yes, my dear, Clark County. Southwest Ohio. Enon, in Clark County, is 162 miles from Akron as the dodo bird flies.
One would think an investigator from New York would be aware of something called “the Internet,” where one can solve these sorts of deep, dark geographic mysteries without breaking a sweat. The Internet even covers nondescript places like Ohio.
Please promise me this: If I drown some day under unusual circumstances, don’t let this woman investigate.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or email@example.com.