Religious Accommodations

Accommodations such as medical, religious, physical and mental are important in our society as long as it isn’t a distraction and provides a pathway towards equality based on the conditions. But what if religious accommodations begin to reshape let’s say the typical American driver license? Today I read where a man in Maine will be allowed to wear his goat horns, yes horns, on his official driver license photo. Okay, it’s safe for me to throw out the yellow flag on this one and ask “why?”

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It is bad enough to wait in anguish at a driver license office. It is true, there are some that take an immense amount of pride in that driver photo as if Glamor Shots or Hollywood will somehow beg you to star in a feature film. But some want to defy the entire process completely in the name of god or whatever they refer to as a higher power. It is as if we are destined to abuse certain systems for our own benefit.

To be candid, I strongly feel that there should not be any religious accommodations when it comes to a driver license photo. My reason is simple; religious rights are not an issue of the state nor motor vehicles. Religion is and should continue to be a private matter. Sure, I’m sympathetic towards reasonable religious accommodations. But I fear that we are stretching the elasticity of public good towards a select few. What is next? Will football helmets require an extension for religious accommodation? Basically, when we extend the far reaches of accommodations we end up dumping more money to resolve additional issues. My fear is that such accommodations will only create a system based on biometrics and DNA. Sure it will be fair but perhaps more intrusive than meeting religious accommodations.

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I don’t want to sound insensitive about this issue. Naturally, I am curious as to what others think. I am only voicing my observation and potential outcomes. It may be true that a healthy democracy always changes and evolves. I have a concern that we may be running in circles chasing a wagging tail. While we should be mindful at accommodations, we must adhere to best practices by identifying those that intend to abuse the system.

Responsibilities of the Media

Sometimes when in inclement weather strikes we think we are prepared. However, we find that perhaps we aren’t as prepared. When the remnants of Hurricane Matthew hit our area, the rain and winds didn’t seem dangerous at first. In fact, our city suffered little damage. But when the power suddenly left us in the dark due to fast rising flood waters and cyclone based whipping winds then we became to realize that we weren’t as prepared as we would have liked. Suddenly we were without power. My first call was to the power company to register a complete power outage request. Many in our neighborhood didn’t know the telephone number to the local power company. As a good planner, I had the power company phone number programmed in my mobile phone. Like a good neighbor, I would attempt to register a power outage for my neighbors. This was not an easy task because the power company wanted the social security number, telephone number or account number of the home with the outage. This created a bit of frustration especially when it was just as difficult to get a live person on the phone to assist. My lesson learned from this particular experience was to stay focused on only my issues.

Next was the news reporting. Our local news was broadcast on a regional radio station. Perhaps the newsroom forgot that nearly half of its audience was listening rather than watching because of power outages. As I listened, I would regularly hear the newscaster phrase “As you see here” filled my a colorful description. It made me wonder how the visually impaired view our news reporting? The most distressing part was the media was so consumed with reporting the most devastating areas that if failed to become a community service to those in need. Many were without power, water, and communications. Those same were prepared with limited food, supplies, funds, and a Red Cross radio. News sources kept saying shelters were open but would say, “you can see the numbers at the bottom of our screen.” No, we can’t see the numbers because over a million residents are without power! Clearly, news sources must learn how to get back to basics for its listening audience. Particularly during a state of emergency.

Additionally, that one news broadcast can be the difference between life and death to some. Many mobile devices have incredible battery power. But that is not to say that resource is readily available. When power begins to diminish and requires a recharge, then this is where many start to panic, especially when listening to news broadcasts. No power means no internet and perhaps no land line if lines are affected. Crucial news and up to date resources were filled with dramatic rescues. When dam levies in Lumberton were beginning to peak and cause a fracture, the story failed to deliver appropriate resources and instructions leaving many trapped when the dam broke. I am mindful that citizens should arm themselves with resources. However, the media has a level of responsibility in providing emergency resources to assist authorities. If news agencies create a business plan for weather phone apps, then they owe its community a resource of open shelters with policies such as pets, restrictions, contact information and potential hazards affecting that area.

A valuable lesson learned from this experience is that some of us follow the Red Cross suggested planning for emergencies. However, it is not a perfect plan of execution. A tough lesson learned is that technologies such as phone apps and portable devices have far outpaced the practical user guide of the average citizen. All agencies should grasp an understanding that all citizens are not entirely connected to Facebook, or the app indulged world. Many seniors during this storm expressed a strong feeling of disconnection because they are not up to date with technologies. They also have concerns that they must invest in high-level device plans to stay abreast with police, fire, media, and emergency authorities. Basically, there should be a firm plan in place making a bit easier for all. If we choose to use our electronic devices then, it should be a complimentary part of the service rather than the requirement.

Customers Behaving Badly

Okay. I know I shouldn’t be ordering fast food but from a recent visit, I noticed something very bizarre. I watched three different orders placed with three identical outcomes. The first person ordered a cheeseburger. The next person ordered a meal with extra special sauce. The last person ordered a two cheeseburger meal. What made this whole encounter amazing is that each of the customers returned his or her food citing an error. The first person told another fast food worker she didn’t want cheese on her burger. The second person returned his food saying there were too many pickles on it. The last person claimed that she said she didn’t want onions on her burgers. I could clearly overhear the conversation because I had nothing better else to do. But it felt as if people are complaining just because they can. I was so interested in this rare form of people watching that I purposely sat and watched customers repeatedly do the same thing by saying an order and complaining about the outcome they initially never raised.

Is there some form of code or culture that allows us to waste products by laying false blame? I would argue that it is entirely acceptable to return French fries because they might be cold. But to turn away cooked food and have it remade because you didn’t specify how you wanted it prepared has to be the newest form of people behaving badly.

After my meal, I made it a point to ask a manager on duty about my discovery. The McDonalds manager told me that it happens all the time. In fact, she instructs her cashiers to repeat the order like they would in a drive-thru lane. The customer agrees and yet there is an inaccuracy complaint. She said, “people want to complain some of the time” but must throw away the food according to law and reissue the order. The only suffering is the customer having to wait a longer period to have his or her order remade. She did mention that fast food locations are testing new phone apps that allow a person to place an order and make custom orders like no onions or extra cheese. But will this change the culture or attitude of those that habitually want to complain about others errors? My guess is no.

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