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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Mantras And Milk

Of the key gripes President Obama's critics are fond of repeating, the talking heads are perhaps most attached to the "federal over-reach" mantra. I'm sometimes unclear about which government programs people would jettison, given the opportunity. Defense spending? Maintaining the highways? Veteran's benefits? I suspect the answer would differ from person-to-person and largely depend on whose bread is being buttered.

How about the Bureau of Weights and Measures? Federal over-reach? After packing lunch bags at Meals on Wheels for five years, I've developed a good sense of the heft of a half-pint of milk. Consequently, I recently noticed something wasn't right with the milk delivery to our site. We took down the scale and sure enough more than 1/3 of the half-pints were under weight anywhere from a very noticeable four ounces to a barely detectable half an ounce. We called Headquarters to report the discrepancies and asked for replacements.

As the morning proceeded, we asked the drivers to be patient and described the reason for our delay. Everyone understood this could be a machine/computer filling error or it could be intentional under-filling. Some of you may recall a scandal a few years ago involving two Pennsylvania milk companies and the latter scenario. The drivers were patient and also pleased we'd noticed; we're all volunteers there to ensure the homebound people we serve get the proper nutrition. But an innocent mention of the role Weights and Measures can sometimes play in these situations was enough to trigger one driver into chanting the federal over-reach mantra. To his credit, he quickly apologized for turning the milk mishap into a political issue. Though the bad taste this interchange left in my mouth didn't linger long, my reflections on the mantra have continued. Where is that line in the sand for you?

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