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  • Paul Davidson

Dangerous Decisions (Or, War with Canada)

I saw a penny on the ground today. And I didn’t pick it up.

Why? Not for the reasons you would normally expect. Most of you are probably thinking to yourself, “Well, why pick up a penny anyway? It’s like, only one cent. A penny is nothing.” Not my reasoning by any means — a penny is a penny is a penny. One million of them are…well… more than ten bucks. But the real reason I didn’t pick up the penny?

War with Canada.

Well, potential war with Canada. I have this wonderful “quirky-ability” (besides counting at stoplights) that allows me to imagine the ripple-effect that any action I take part in could create. In fact, it’s something most humans are fascinated with — the concept of decision-making. How one little decision could (in the end) mean you married one person instead of the other or ended up living halfway across the world versus down the street. You can’t live your life worrying about every little decision having a huge effect on you… Well, you can’t. Me, on the other hand, is a different story.

In my head – here’s what would have happened had I picked up that penny.

1. I pick up the penny, shoving it into my pocket. 2. The police officer in his parked vehicle at the corner, notices. 3. He’s watching me. But for what? I did nothing illegal. I just picked up a penny. That’s not illegal, right? 4. I get into my car, still obsessed with the penny legal/illegal picking up scenario. 5. I pull into traffic, worried that the cop is still watching me, and forget to signal. 6. The police officer pulls me over, having seen my moving violation. 7. The cop sites me for a moving violation. 8. My insurance goes up. 9. I go to court to try and fight the ticket. 10. At the hearing, the cop actually shows up contrary to my initial thoughts that he might not, thus giving me the win. 11. I argue that the moving violation was, in actuality, a form of racial profiling. Instead, it was wealth-profiling. He saw me pick up the money, felt that I was greedy, and wanted to teach me a lesson. 12. The person whose court case is following mine happens to be a journalist for USA Today. 13. He writes an article about police officers being involved in wealth-profiling, “a new fad in America” he writes. 14. Local leaders in California, including the Governor’s office are alerted to the article and the sit in that has been coordinated at all Federal buildings around the state. The Governor’s office calls in the National Guard to keep things in order. 15. Radio stations start broadcasting about the sit-in, and it gets even larger. 16. In Sacramento at the Capital building, everything seems under control until the governor himself, Mr. Arnold Swartzenegger shows up… Someone from the crowd rushes towards him, someone frustrated after having lost their car insurance due to 10 moving violations that all followed bank withdrawls. 17. The National Guard, seeking to protect Arnold, shoots the protestor in the leg. Little do they know, the protestor recently had surgery on that leg, which was still healing. 18. The protestor has to be taken to the Emergency Room. He is losing blood fast. 19. The doctors at the Sacramento ER cannot save him. He dies. 20. The papers find out that the protestor was, actually, not an American citizen. He was, in fact, a Canadian citizen. 21. Canadians all across Canada see it as a declaration of war. 22. Canada launches its first strike against the US. 23. The US Congress declares war against Canada. 24. It is a long and costly war.

All because I picked up a penny.

In other news, that penny was no longer there when I walked past that area of town later in the day. I can only hope the chain of events does not trigger a flood, tornado, love-in or Play-Doh party (all other distinct events that I imagined as well).

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