Saturday, January 20, 2007

Only in America - About Crowds and Bureaucrats

After recently spending two weeks in America I am rather sensitive to all things American... good or bad. And it is true... you see the best best of things right next door to the very worst of things in America. So when I saw this article "Bargains at Any Price" about Apple Notebook computers on sale for $50 each I just had to share it with you.

If that average Joe in America were as passionate about defending his civil rights and liberties as he is about getting a good bargain, the United States, we speculate, might be in much better shape. Last week, the Henrico County school board in Virginia held a special one-day sale, selling 1,000 used Apple laptops for only $50 each… first come, first served.

At the Richmond International Raceway complex where the sale was to take place, lines started forming at midnight and had reached more than half a mile in length in the morning. One woman reportedly wet herself because she didn’t want to leave her place in line.

By 7:00 am, about 5,500 people had gathered in front of the building, so organizers decided to begin the sale two hours early.

The opening of the doors started an immediate stampede in whose course “people were trampled on, […] an elderly man was pushed to the ground, a baby’s buggy was crushed and one desperate buyer tried to drive his car through the crowd,” reported the BBC.

People were yelling at police officers who tried to keep the crowd in check. One man was using a folding chair he had brought with him to beat back people who tried to cut in front of him. A total of 17 people were injured, with four requiring hospital treatment.

Of course, aside from illuminating the Lemming-like temperament of the American masses, the incident doesn’t shed too good a light on the organizers as well. The Associated Press reported that initially, there were five police officers at the scene—ultimately, 71 were needed to keep the mob in check.

And how easy it would have been for the Henrico County officials to advertise “only one computer per person” and cut off the line at 1,000. But then again, crowds and bureaucrats seldom adhere to logical thinking.

- Wayne Mansfield

No comments:

Post a Comment