Now that the July 4th holiday has passed and the fireworks have all been shot off and enjoyed, drawing the appropriate amount of oohs and ahhs from the crowd, I can share with you this conversation I had with a coworker last week.My co-worker Stephanie is a pragmatist and money conscious in light of the increased cost of gas and other amenities as a
Peripheral Vision result. At McDonald's, we traditionally order off of their $1 menu. Her, because she's watching her pennies; me, because I'm on a diet and the $1 dollar items are smaller portions. Anyway, at lunch one day last week (we were eating in this particular day) we were talking about the extended holiday weekend and what plans, if any, we had. I said I'd either be with my mother or helping the Lions' Club with their bingo and then, hopefully, watching fireworks.
"I know that fireworks are pretty and everyone loves them, but in light of the way the economy is, I have a problem with (the local government) spending money on something that brings only fleeting moments of pleasure," she said.
She went on to say that she wondered what kind of cost cutting measures are being done. An example she gave (more like, questioned), why does it take two police officers in two separate police cruisers to make a traffic stop? "Do you know how much gas they're using?" she said.
When I pointed out that it was a safety issue - how many times has a police officer been wounded or killed during what was a routine traffic stop? - she said that the police officers should ride together like they did in the olden days.
Furthermore, she said, why are they out just riding around, using up gas? "They should just wait until they receive a call-like the fire trucks and ambulance do," she said.
"You're comparing apples with oranges," I said.
Now, as someone who covered the police beat for the Octorara area for 11 years, I know for a fact that residents like to SEE their police department out and about patrolling and that they question what they're doing when they don't see them.
About now you're probably wondering the same thing that I was during that lunchtime conversation - had Stephanie gotten pulled over and was now espewing sour grapes? The answer was no (which, knowing her, I do believe).
No, Stephanie was just feeling the pain of the pump - the gas pump, that is, as she commutes a hefty hike to come to work. But she did question what the local municipalities were doing to save money in this time of inflated gas prices and poor economy. The money used to put on the fireworks show could go towards a much-needed tax break to its residents.
Now, I doubt that the cost of the fireworks amounts to anything equivalent to a possible tax break. And plus, I pointed out, it's the fire company who puts on the show, not the borough. "And the fire company does that with money from who? Ultimately, us," she shot back.
I don't know if I was losing this argument or not, but I do know that nothing was going to sway Stephanie from her opinion. "Write that in your paper and I'll bet you'll get a lot of letters," she said.
I was ready to label her the 4th of July Scrooge. I mean, really, how could anybody be against fireworks? It's a time-honored tradition to celebrate the birth of our nation. Not to have them would be like peanut butter without jelly, Bert without Ernie, and so on. When we parted for the long weekend, I shouted after her, "And see some fireworks!"