In Ballston Spa, a seven-year-old ran afoul of state regulators by operating a lemonade stand without a permit. An overzealous state health inspector made him close up shop after alleged complaints by fair vendors — and America erupted in outrage.
Years ago, I myself had a brush with the the food police.
I was in charge of the hot dog stand at our Cub Scout pack’s annual pinewood derby race. It was nothing fancy: dirty water dogs, potato chips, slices of pizza — you’ve seen these ad hoc food concessions at youth sports and school events. You’ve probably eaten a lot of that food, too.
A woman approached. “Do you have a permit?”
Excuse me, for what?
“I do food inspections at the health department. Most people don’t know this, but you need a permit to serve food — and if you don’t have a permit, I could shut you down.”
I laughed. Her son was one of the scouts and I figured she was just pulling my leg.
“I suppose we should be wearing gloves, too, right?”
She looked around. “Yes, actually, you should.”
OK, this woman’s not kidding. For a moment I considered trying to bribe her with a free hot dog, but thought better.
I thanked her and said we’d look into getting a permit next year. We never did.
Even though we were not sanctioned by the county or state to serve food, we managed not to kill anyone with our cheap hot dogs. And thank god for that. Poisoning an entire Cub Scout pack is not something you’d get over easily.
Rules are rules, and stupid rules are still rules. But it seems like the one rule we really need is the one about common sense. There’s no regulating that.