If you hear Vizzini from the Princess Bride screaming “inconceivable” when you read this story, well, let’s just say it’s part of living in America.
And likewise it’s only in America that a story about a family opting NOT to sue Macy’s for a mishap during the Thanksgiving Day Parade would earn a spot in one of the nation’s most venerable news outlets – the New York Times.
But that’s what A.G. Sulzberger (also known as the son of the paper’s late publisher) wrote about in the City Room this week – the Chamberlain family and their brush with a possible multi-million lawsuit when a parade balloon became entangled in street wires, sending a light fixture toppling onto two of their four children.
The fixture hit the wheelchair of daughter Mary, who has cerebral palsy, and struck Sarah, who is now a high school sophomore (since the incident happened in 2004, she was likely a pre-teen at the time).
So what did the Chamberlains do? Took their kids to the hospital like any normal set of parents. The girls turned out to be alright – a chipped tooth, a scar in the hairline and a few bruises according to the Times. Macy’s paid for the girls medical bills and paid for their parents’ hotel stay in the city that evening. The girls also got a shopping spree.
Then the Chamberlains packed up and went home. And did nothing. They even go to the parade every year. The one benefit they’ve accepted for the incident is a prime viewing location offered up by Macy’s.
That they go to the parade, even relish the event, is as much a testament to their normalcy as their decision not to sue. We’ve all heard that parent in the nursery school line or at the PTO who can’t wait to share their tale of woe . . . over . . . and over . . . and over. And of course, since it happened to their kids, you’re expected to join them in a boycott of whoever or whatever caused them an unending string of grief.
I can see why Sulzberger chose this story of all the stories in the naked city to report this week. It’s not just a story of giving thanks for life’s blessings. It’s a reminder that you can be a good example to the world by not doing a thing.
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