Today my wife is helping to chaperone my son’s fourth grade class to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is one parent amongst a half dozen to volunteer her time to help out the school. This is something she has done for both of our children through the years. She has been a “class mom” every year, helping with fundraising and scheduling birthday celebrations and other functions I’ve typically been able to take avoid because I can proudly state “My wife does all that!” as if I have had a hand in it. It reminds me of when I was on a movie set and one of the actors met my new bride for the first time and complimented, “Your wife is beautiful.” My response was, “Thank you.” As soon as I said it I thought to myself, “Thank you? Why should I thank him? I had nothing to do with creating her looks, nor did I apply her makeup that morning.” Yet there I was taking full credit for her DNA.
So I have nothing to do with her chaperoning the children into the city today. No thanks are needed, direct them to her. What I will do is complain for her. My wife has graciously set aside everything else she needs to accomplish in a day to ensure the safety of our kids. For this she must pay for the travel into the city because she is not allowed on the school bus with the children she is helping to protect. Nor is she permitted to take my son home with her after the event is over. She must drive back to the school and wait for the bus to return.
Now common sense would dictate that this is ludicrous. But we no longer live in a common sense society. We live in a litigious society. In a litigious society, common sense and courtesy are vanquished to avoid lawsuits. Let’s say a second grade class in a state on the other side of the country is heading to a puppet show at a local theatre. A mom is on the bus chaperoning when the bus crashes into a tree. The mom decides to take the opportunity to sue the school and wins maybe $200,000 dollars. Or maybe the case gets thrown out of court and the state only has to pay lawyer fees. In the past, lawsuits were a step to fight injustice and change policy. Now they are a get-rich-quick scheme perpetuated by – lawyers.
So to avoid lawsuits, such as the one described above (one which I amended from a real incident after a quick interwebs search) policy is changed, only for the worse. Out of fear of litigation, my wife has to travel separately from the rest of the class even though she is there to help the teacher and ensure safety. The most insane response to litigiousness is that the school has forbidden that she let my son go home with her directly. The mother has relinquished the rights of her child out of fear of a lawsuit. Plain and simple, common sense, like my wife, is left to find its own way home because greed is driving society.
Decisions based on fear and greed do not belong in policies regarding the welfare of the people. Common sense should dictate the direction of our laws, our well-being, of our future. As my wife takes the hour and a half ride into Manhattan today to catch up with the bus, I accept the parents’ gratitude on her behalf as I sit in front of my computer complaining for her.