A couple of years ago, ABC TV news had a fluff story about a six-year-old girl named Abby in Naples, Fla., who set up a lemonade stand at the end of her driveway. According to the report, one of the neighbors had complained to authorities that Abby didn’t have a license to conduct such a business at that location. Abby’s mother, with the press in tow, went to city hall and obtained a business license, issued for free on a temporary basis, for her daughter. Soon Abby was back in business and everyone felt fuzzy all over because of the happy ending.
Perhaps it’s just my nature, but I didn’t feel fuzzy all over.
First of all, I doubt if any of the neighbors cared if the girl had a business license. Most likely a neighbor was concerned because of the various problems caused by a lemonade stand at the end of a driveway. Abby’s neighborhood had narrow streets and no sidewalks. There was a column of bushes alongside the driveway blocking the lemonade stand, which appeared to be within two feet of the street, from oncoming traffic in one direction. It was an accident waiting to happen. Perhaps one of the neighbors perceived a dangerous situation and called authorities. Or perhaps one of the neighbors didn’t care to have cars stopping in the street or parking on their lawn.
Believe it or not, some people who don’t have kids don’t necessarily find the offspring of their neighbors to be delightful little creatures. Many kids tend to be noisy, reckless and downright irritating. They consider the entire neighborhood, including other yards and the street, to be their entitled playground.
Conversely, responsible adults assume the street is for automobile traffic, not a recreational area for rowdy children. A neighbor upset about a kid setting up shop at the end of a driveway has a legitimate complaint.
In my opinion, everyone except Abby acted inappropriately.
The neighbor who made the complaint was inappropriate. Enterprising kids all over America have been opening lemonade stands in their driveways ever since they invented lemons and driveways. I had one when I was in the third grade. Most kids learn the hard lessons of business right away. You sell several glasses the first day or two, mostly to kind-hearted neighbors, then it tapers off. You spend hours sitting there alone wondering if Bill Gates started this way. After about a week, you close up shop. If the complaining neighbor had a little more patience, the lemonade stand would have probably disappeared in short order.
Abby’s mother reacted inappropriately. Instead of recognizing the numerous problems of the stand at the end of a driveway, she was determined to have her way. If it disturbed some of the neighbors, the stand didn’t belong there. She should have taught her child to be more considerate of others and put a stop to it.
The City of Naples blew it too. They gave the girl a free business license. Soon other kids in Naples opened lemonade stands, wanting similar treatment. The city was then forced to accommodate everyone or shut them all down. Just because you’re a cute little girl doesn’t give you any more rights than anyone else.
With all the national publicity, including an appearance on the David Letterman TV show, Abby’s lemonade enterprise did volume business. She even had to recruit some friends to keep up with the demand.
In my warped sense of justice, it all disintegrated into a sad lack of closure. Traffic had grossly increased in the once tranquil neighborhood. The complaining neighbor will probably be ostracized and may even be forced to move. Abby’s mother had encouraged her daughter to be self-centered. The City of Naples undoubtedly incurred legal fees.
Abby has had her 15 minutes of fame and must now deal with the consequences, which may include being responsible for a neighborhood feud and the inevitability of closing a popular tourist attraction.
One person’s happy ending is another person’s notion of a big fat mess.
Speaking of being fuzzy all over, I recently discovered a fuzzy object on the bottom shelf in my refrigerator. It was dark blue and wiggled a bit when I reached for it. If I’m not mistaken, it was originally a lemon.
Quote for the Day -- "I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade… and try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka and have a party." Ron White
Bret Burquest is the author of 9 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where being fuzzy all over sometimes means it's time for the monthly bath.